I think pre-assessment can assist with creating differentiated lessons simply by allowing you the instructor to know where your kids are. From that point, looking at the end goal in sight, you can determine where you're going to take them and how you are going to get them there. In the ABC unit from Chapter 1, the instructor pre-assessed to determine her students' basic knowledge of the alphabet to determine which activities would be appropriate for her various students. On page 22, she mentions how she had 2 levels of ABC Center activities. She then taught the level 1 activities to the students needing more basic letter knowledge and level 2 activities to those who know more about how letters worked. If she had not pre-assessed she would not have known which activities would be to simple or too difficult for each students.
Pre-assessment is a must for differentiation! On page 25 in Lesson 1 the teacher quickly pre-assesses the students to see what they know about the alphabet. On page 26 in lesson 2, the teacher is able to easily differentiate for three readiness groups. As described on pages 22 & 23 the teacher also uses the pre-assessment to differentiate her ABC center into level 1 and level 2. She teaches the lessons to those who need it and they are then able work with what they know or move into a different level. On page 33 & 34 the teacher works with higher and lower readiness groups. She works with one group, while the other group is working in the ABC center, where their work is also differentiated.
I am extremely interested in working some kind of pre-assessment into my PGP classes this coming school year. As I have students from multiple grades and various classes, it's really valuable to find out exactly what the strengths and weaknesses of my gifted students are. Often times, I figure this out by chance within the first week or 2 as opposed to focused study questions or inquiry of some kind. On p. 24, I liked how the teacher had a series of leading questions to ask students about their book explorations. It gives her an immediate idea of what they "got" and "didn't get" with regard to the alphabet. Great idea to do that!
Pre-assessment can help when planning differentiated lessons because you have a baseline of where your students are on that particular topic/subject area, so it is easier to see where the gaps are, which kids need less instruction and how to group kids. This all falls under the “readiness” profile on page 9.
In response to Katie's comment on June 6... I agree that pre-assessment works to help figure out where the gaps are so that students are able to learn more appropriately. Pre-assessment is such a valuable tool!
In response to Miss M's Kinders... I agree that pre-assessment is a "must" for differentiation. Otherwise, there is no way to actually differentiate. It's such a simple concept but in practice, takes quite a bit of planning!
Oh do I agree with Ms. M - you can't differentiate if you don't pre-access. It's something that I , like Ms. Lee have never done with my PGP kids and something I really OUGHT to do. Now the question is how?
I believe pre-assessment is a must for teaching in general. We do it every year with OS and DRAs to plan for small groups in reading and even in math and writing. As it implies on page 6-7, pre-assessment is the bases for lesson planning and instruction. It helps us to identify each students readiness that is mentioned on page 9 and shown on page 24 with ABC unit, so we can make modifications in our instruction. I have had many special needs students in my classroom over the years and have had to make many adjustments based on their readiness.
Shauna, you've given me an idea - I'm going to ask the classroom teacher to share their assessments with me. Why reinvent the wheel? Yet another DUH moment for me. I think that when I packed up the library I packed up my brain too.
In re-reading "The Alphabet Lesson" (pages 19 - 37) the author lists the concepts on page 19. Pre assessment gives the teacher a "list" of which concepts she either doesn't need to teach or only needs to review or perhaps just teach to a few of her 22 students. If all but 2 of her students already know their upper and lower case letters then she would be wasting her time and boring the other 20 if she spent a full week on that concept. The pre assessment would tell her to create a center for those 2 students and to spend some extra time with them while the others work on identifying and and applying the beginning sounds of words.
Pre-assessment is vital to appropriate instruction. When lessons are being planned, consideration must be given to what students already know. This can be done by a paper/pencil task, a recording, or an interview. On page 25, the unit describes a pre-assessment where students use paper & pencil to show what they know about the alphabet. This will guide the teacher to set up centers and activities that fit the differentiated needs of each student. Pre-assessments can happen in many different ways. I can interview students to see what they know about a topic or I can have students prepare a recording, either a FlipChart or a PowerPoint, or an I-Movie explaining what they know about a topic. On another note, I am noticing that the unit studies begin with consuming many different alphabet books. This is a fantastic way to begin the conversation around a topic. However, I am concerned about an activity listed that asks students to color alphabet sheets of vowels and consonants. I am surprised to read that Carol Ann Tomlinson is promoting an activity that is so simple and low level—and not developmentally appropriate.
You have to be aware of what your students already know; in what areas individual students may be lacking knowledge and in what areas individual students excel before you can begin differentiation. It is also important to be aware of learning styles and interests. Pre-assessment gives you the foundation on which to build on. (pgs. 9, 11, and 17)
I think you learn so much more about your student's knowledge/interests through the preassessment piece of it. If you know their strengths/weaknesses- you can adjust their methods of showing you what they have learned. In giving them more choices in how they can show you what they have learned- they will share more with you. This is made difficult at times with the lack of time, but I know I have to find a good balance so that my students can share more about what they have learned- (Pg. 9, 1l)
I totally agree with Katie's response of June 6th. Just as a doctor wouldn't diagnose without seeing the whole patient- teachers can't begin to help a child learn to their highest potential unless we know all the factors that are influencing them. This is probably the biggest difference between teaching when I was a student and being a teacher today- I don't remember my teachers getting to know their students as well as teachers today have to.
In response to Katie...preassessment is definitely one of the most important steps in differentiation. "Readiness"....is the starting block of it all.
I definitely see a direct connection between pre-assessment and successful differentiation. Page 6-7 of the book explains the importance. I really liked this part: "The teacher also assesses learner interests and learning profiles in order to enhance individual motivation and learning efficiency." This part of pre-assessment may sometimes be forgotten, but keeping our students motivated is critical.
Katie, thank you for reminding me about the readiness profile on p. 9. Pre-Assessment is key to determining if a student is ready for the curriculum.
In response to Sharon G.: I think that my teachers in my early years definitely got to know me. However, as I moved up in school, that personal attention definitely dropped. I agree with you that it is critical that we continue to give our students personal attention and understand their needs as learners at every age.
Pre-Assessment is critical in differentiating. It gives you a starting point for each student. I mentioned previously in the first question, that I didn't realize that pre-assessment could be so informal. I had many students this year who were really advanced in math. I would give them the graded assessment at the beginning of the unit. If they made an A, they were exempt from taking it again. I am not sure this is right, but... I would then extend these kids in small group with me or with Odessey on the computer. They consistently had high grades. Would it have been appropriate to assess and grade them at a more advanced level at the risk of lower grades? Is that even allowed? On page 25, the author explains a simple way to pre-assess on an alphabet unit. It is simple and effective. I need to come up with some simple ways of pre assessing students that do not involve using the graded post assessment. I agree with Sharon G's comment made on June 7th. Pre-Assessment with each unit does require time that we don't always have. This where I struggle. I know it is essential to find out where the gaps are for each individual student. There isn't enough time to teach concepts they already know. We have to be efficient and teach what is needed. I guess if you look at it that way, pre-Assessment could be considered a time saver in the long run. Is that stretching it a bit???? :)
Preassessment is a critical foundation to differentiated instruction.It saves time but more importantly focuses your instruction where it is needed. This is the foundation of the hallmark on p.6 of the link between assessment and instruction.It ties in directly with the baseball coach scenario on p.11 when it come for positions assigned to the players , the order of the players, the skills and practice needed.It reminds me of the phrase to "begin with the end in mind" so that the preassessment would show the skills and subskills necessary for that particular unit.It also reminds me of assessing by giving the hardest problem firstand if the student can master that, then the other practice or problems are unnecessary.This preassessment is a core foundation to planning effective instruction and knowing what and how your students learn.
In response to Miss Roth's post today, pre-assessment may seem like a lot to do for every concept, but like Miss Roth said it can informal without paper and pen. A quick and informal observation as your students work in centers or the simple popcorn game (where the students just popcorn out what they know about a subject) about a concept you will be teaching can be used to help figure out where the students are in their knowledge. I was also a little surprised about the coloring sheets in the unit, but I thought maybe to turn it into a simple sort for a higher level activity.
Pages 9 and 10 describe three characteristics that “may indicate a need for modifications:” readiness, interest and learning profile. I think it is impossible to know where a child is in regards to these characteristics without some sort of pre-assessment, be it formal or informal. Readiness – I read in Strategies for Differentiating Instruction, a book study last summer, a recommendation to pose the most difficult question at the beginning of the unit to see who is able to answer it. I do not think I agree with that any longer, however. While it may be useful to identify those students who can basically “skip” the instruction the rest of the class needs, it may not be useful in identifying which understanding or skills some students may be missing, as described on page 5. A good readiness assessment will assess the important skills needed to solve the end, more difficult question.Interest – interest can be discovered through student surveys and one-on-one conversations.Learning profiles – I must admit I do not feel at all the expert on this. I imagine student surveys would also be helpful, as well as observation of students working with others.
Pre-assessment can guide our teaching to really narrow in on what the students need to know. I am thinking back to teaching multiplication (double digit). This is a great concept to pre-assess. The students who “get it” or remember it from the previous summer, do need practice, but do not need the step by step lessons that many other students need. By pre-assessing, I will know who to push to a more complex aspect of multiplication and who needs my help. In Unit I, I liked how the teacher approached the differentiation as splitting up the activities and gave more difficult pieces to those students who are “ready” (example page 9 of activities divided by readiness). It also gives everyone ownership and value in the unit.
In response to K.Donathen’s comment, “You have to be aware of what your students already know; in what areas individual students may be lacking knowledge and in what areas individual students excel before you can begin differentiation.” – You are so right. In your subject field, you must go crazy when you are teaching something that the kids already know. You need to find out what they know so you don’t go crazy either! By the way, you are excellent at drawing on their interests!
I agree with CynthiaMer's comment about "beginning with the end in mind." We need to try to do more preassesments with our science curriculum to help maximize their learning!
I loved the pre-assessment the teacher used for the ABC unit on page 25. I loved how simple it was and how much information she was able to gather in that activity. Pre-assessment is a way for the teacher to see where everyone stands and meet them where they are instead throwing a rope at them and hoping that they are grabbing it as it swings by and if they do some of them are hanging on for dear life while trying to make meaning out the lesson while others sail easily to the other side.I like Miss Roth's use of Technology as a pre-assessment. Laughed out loud and had a momentary flash back of Covey training when I read CynthiaMer and CarrieKohl's comments using "begin with the end in mind" such an easy fix...should make that a poster in my room and in all planning rooms!
I like page 37: "I think the time that is put into assessing the prior knowledge and matching them to activities accordingly really pays off in that each child is then invited to grow as much as he or she can from their own starting point." I also like all the sections: 24 - 36! It shows seamless integration in what I already do for the Language Arts portion of my day... Daily 5. Back when I was part of the "Masters On-Line" through the district, we worked hard to make unit studies based on "Keeping the End in Mind". In fact, there is a whole book about doing so that I think might have been written by Cain and Cain... It was powerful and that is usually the what I ask myself now before I ask the kids to complete an assignment. Now, thinking about keeping the end in mind - I'm totally overbooked for the summer! Funny how us teachers think of all the wonderful things for our students yet we forget to apply them to our personal lives sometimes!
As identified on page 6, pre-assessment will assist a teacher in “how” she teaches, in accordance with her student’s readiness levels, interests and best modes of learning. This provides a goal of flexible instruction providing multiple ways of learning to support her students. Pre-assessment becomes our starting gate and gives each child their own map for success in the race to learn. As stated previously my area that I feel I need to work on, is to formally identify what kind of pre-assessment I plan on using for each unit and how I will use the information that is given.
I agree with BrandiB's comment that I didn't realize that pre-assessment could be so informal. Often times I have viewed it as a formal written "quiz", but in looking at her units, sometimes it appears it's nothing more than a few questions when she pulls her large group together.
I like Ms. Roth's idea of having her student's prepare a powerpoint or an imovie of what they know as a form of preassessment. Even my 7 year olds could do a flip video of what they know on a topic or even respond to some questions in google docs, which is an area I want to expand more in my classroom.
Ms. E - you are so right! Using the flip cameras for pre-assessment would be so easy for kindergarteners. Definitely something I will try next year!
Pre-assessment is a great tool to help guide lessons. I love pre-assessments, especially in math so that I know exactly where to focus my attention. A pre-assessment adds a lot to the learning profile mentioned on p.10 because not only do you have a good idea of the background knowledge of a student, their learning style etc., you also have a very specific snapshot of what they need to work on.I like Ms.E's idea of using a flip camera for pre-assessment, where students are creating a video of what they already know. Since technology is an important part of our curriculum, that could be a fun way to integrate video into lessons. Also, like Teresa said, I think it is extremely important to begin with the end in mind. If we know where we are going and where we want our students to end up, it will be easy to pre-assess to find a starting point and make our way efficiently to our end goal.