Assessment, Assessment, Assessment - Yikes!

Is anyone else as exhausted as I am this week?  My body is still recovering from the lazy days of Christmas break and these full weeks back to school are t.i.r.i.n.g!  It doesn't help that we are full swing into middle of the year assessments.  Whew!  There's isn't a moment of down time in Room 206 this week - that's for sure!  Not that we ever have minutes to spare, but this week is especially busy!

During math workshop, we are winding up our unit on long division (thank goodness - I'm soooo ready to move on).  We've had tons of fun with long division games, activities, and review this week, but you can only do so many long division problems, ya know what I mean!  :) To spice it up a bit, I bought the cutest long division activities from the fabulous Jennifer Findley. You should check them out!  Also, if you haven't checked out my long division assessment pack yet, it was a lifesaver for keeping me focused, organized, and informed daily of my student's progress.

Tomorrow we will play Math Baseball to review for our long division district assessment on Friday. I'll post pictures this weekend of how we play this game. It's a great review game that keeps all students engaged!

During reading workshop, our district DRA window is open, so I'm busily assessing all 31 of my kiddo's fluency and comprehension during workshop time. Part of the assessment requires the students to write a summary, so we are  practicing, practicing, practicing summarizing. I'm a big fan of the "somebody, wanted, but, so, then," strategy for narrative summarizing. After years of having students write boring (long) lists, retelling the events of a story, I stumbled upon this strategy in a teacher book by Kylene Beers (2003) called, When Kids Can't Read: What Teachers Can Do - and the lightbulb went off.  Not only does the "SWBST" strategy help students shift from retelling to summarizing, it also gets them to the theme/heart/lesson learned of the story and beyond that loooooong list of events.  I love it and so do my kids.  I've noticed other bloggers are loving it too.  Check out Miss. Nannini's posts about how she uses the same strategy.  She always has the cutest anchor charts to go along with her lessons!

I'm not done yet, in writing we are reassessing all students for word work. We use the Words Their Way program that differentiates word work for students based on their abilities.  We reassess mid-year to make shifts (if necessary) in word work groups and note progress from the beginning of the year.  Giving the mid-year assessment is easy, grading all the assessments and organizing the new groups and planning for the second half of the year takes time, LOTS of time.  And I always end up with at least four to five groups in my room.  I just can't seem to get it down to only three groups!

Last but not least, we are in the middle of our STAR reading and math assessment windows as well.  These computerized assessments give us data on each individual's grade level abilities, percentile ranking, progress from the fall test window, and skills that are lacking.  We use this data, along with all the other data, to form our intervention groups.

Now you know why I titled this post Assessment, Assessment, Assessment - Yikes!  We are definitely living in the age of assessment.  I truly believe we are moving in the right direction as educators, knowing our individual student's strengths, weaknesses and daily struggles and accomplishments allows us to offer them the exact prescription of knowledge they need.  Gone are the days of whole class anything!  We're on to something good here, but we're exhausted in the meantime!  Well, at least I am!  LOL

How are you all dealing with assessment overload?

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