Workshop Topic: Assessing Literacy Development
Instructions for workshop leaders
By Carol Seefeldt Ph.D
1 > Goals
- To develop skills using informal assessment strategies.
- To analyze information collected through informal strategies.
- To develop portfolio standards for the center or school.
2 > In Advance
- Distribute the handout (pages 12-14) one week before the workshop.
- Have a flip chart and marker available.
- Divide teachers into groups of two or more and assign each to collect information using one of the assessment strategies described in the handout. For example, one group might be asked to collect information on one child's literacy development by writing anecdotal notes, another through story reading, and so on. Ask teachers to remove the child's name from the work.
3 > Begin the Workshop
Groups will take turns describing the strategy they used to assess a child's literacy development. Have members of the group talk about techniques they found helpful when using the strategy, the problems that occurred, and how the problems were solved.
Ask the group to discuss the strategy, adding ideas for increasing its effectiveness in assessing literacy development. For example, after the strategy of anecdotal notes is presented, the group might suggest taking notes on how children were:
- looking at or reading books, alone or with others.
- using invented spelling to make signs or titles for their work.
- using language to convince others, keep a play theme moving, or share information.
Or, when using the strategy of instructional conversations, you can ask children to:
- tell everything they know about a specific literacy skill.
- show you what they mean through drawing or writing.
- probe for deeper understanding asking "Why did you say that?" and "How did you decide that?"
4 > Continue the Workshop
Collecting information on a child's literacy development is the first step. The next step is analyzing the collected data. Refer to Figure A on page 12 of the handout and ask each teacher to answer the following questions: How does information obtained from each of the strategies inform teachers about the child's current literacy learning? What learning experiences would be appropriate to take the child to the next level of understanding? Discuss teachers' conclusions as a group.
5 > Conclude the Workshop
Make plans to develop a portfolio for each child. As a group, decide on what will be kept in the portfolios and how the data will be interpreted. For example, all materials should be dated and it should be noted when, how, and under what conditions the work was completed. Each teacher might ask children to select for inclusion in the portfolio a story they told or a sample of their emergent writing, a drawing, or some other item that they are proud of that illustrates a special accomplishment or has special merit or meaning to them. Growth charts and checklists, perhaps modeled after Figure A, could also be included.
Agree on techniques for involving children and reporting to parents. Remind teachers that when reporting to parents, they should not compare the work of one child with other children.
About the Author
Carol Seefeldt, Ph.D., professor emeritus of the University of Maryland, College Park, and visiting scholar at Johns Hopkins University, has worked in early childhood education for more than 30 years.