Pre-assessment is an invaluable tool to determine students’ prior knowledge. If we believe that people construct knowledge by building upon what they already know, then it is only logical that teachers would need to ascertain their students’ current understanding of whatever the topic is. This is necessary to facilitate growth in every student, regardless of their level. That said, we must be careful of how we pre-assess. Too many paper and pencil, bubble-in tests create apathy in the students. If students are apathetic taking the test, the results obtained will not be an accurate reflection of their understanding.I have enjoyed reading about the different types of pre-assessment in the model units. I especially liked the plant web created by the class as described on page 46-47. It allows everyone a chance to contribute something. It also provides a way for students to show and reflect upon their growth throughout the unit. I was not as fond of the “Find someone who…” pre-assessment described before on pages 45 -46. Imagine if you were one of those children who couldn’t have their name written down for any of the descriptions – embarrassing!
Yes, I believe that pre-assessment activities will assist a teacher in their teaching. Pre-assessment allows the teacher and student to discover what is already known in a specific topic or subject. It is critical to recognize prior knowledge in a subject so students can engage in questioning, thinking and theorizing in order to construct new knowledge appropriate to their level. Using pre-assessment activities in your classroom allows you to differentiate instruction, plan learning activities that address varying levels of readiness, determine which students have not achieved the mastery of certain objectives, form flexible groups in your instruction. I also believe that using pre-assessment activities in your classroom avoids teaching students what they already know, guides your instruction to challenge students appropriately, motivates your students to become more attentive to your instruction, and more importantly engages your students in relevant and meaningful instruction.
Of course because you can't teach someone something they already know! I am very attracted to Unit 3 - We're All In It Together and think I'll use it with my PGP students when school starts. I like the ABC unit but I fear that any pre-assessment would show they already know the material! Also, next year my PGP kids will be 100% Bi-Lingual and I don't want to introduce to much English reading for fear of confusing them with what they are learning in the classroom. While I speak and read some Spanish, I can't write it. Rather than using Still pictures I think I will make an Animoto instead. I spent last week at an Alan November presentation and am trying to incorporate as much technology into my PGP curriculum as I can.
Pre-assessment activities definitely assist you in teaching. I think Pre-assessing tells you right away what the students know and what they need to know. It gives the teacher a starting point for each unit and helps avoid time being wasted on things the students already knows. I liked the “find someone who” pre-assessment on pages 45 – 46. The children find friends who knew something about each topic. The teacher could easily tell the knowledge level, but all students were participating and engaged. On page 74 the teacher gave pictures of a community to the students and had the students write about it. This is a quick and easy way to determine the depth of their knowledge.
Pre-assessment is the key. That's the simple answer. The more complex answer surrounds the value in what a teacher takes away from pre-assessing. If it's just a quick pre-cursor to the assignment, it may not necessarily be of as much value as if it's really used to determine what students already know, what they need to learn, and how quickly they may (or may not) comprehend what is going to be taught. I love the pre-assessments in this book. They fit so seamlessly into the design of the unit - they are just perfect! In particular, in this section, I enjoyed the unit that started on p. 67, "We're all in it Together"... I think the pre-assessment, as well as the entire unit, are wonderful.
In response to D. Pico... great comments in your 2nd paragraph... paper/pencil for pre-assessment is not always the way to go. Our kids are way over-tested, no matter how much other educational "stuff" we try to throw in their hands between all the bubbling... and I think the key to pre-assessment is to have it NOT be a completely paper/pencil independent work-type task.
In response to Mrs. M's Kinders... I, too, loved the "find someone who" idea on p. 45! GREAT idea! Although I just said in my post above that we need to keep kids away from paper/pencil... this one on p. 45 didn't feel like traditional paper/pencil to me. They got up, moved around, talked to each other, were engaged, and the assessment took place all around them!
Pre-assessment is essential in ascertaining the best educational experience for all students. If am doing what’s best for all kids, then I have to know how much (or little) they know about a subject before we begin. It is an essential key to differentiation. I think it comes quite naturally for those of us teaching Fine Arts in some ways. Time restraints are an obvious drawback in our case. It is my goal to raise the bar for all students from the novice to accomplished musician.
In response to Mrs. M's Kinders:Amen to not wasting time!!! I am grateful for a tool box full of pre-assessment strategies.
In response to Miss Lee:I agree with your comment regarding how pre-assessment is used. I also think it can be a great equalizer amongst students - all kids are experts at something. It may become an eye opener for us all.
Yes, I do think pre-assessment activities will assist me in my teaching for three main reasons. First, it is obviously a timesaver when it comes to planning and student assessment. Also, it is critical to differentiated instructional planning so that we can provide learning for the individualat his/her level as well as outside their comfort zone for maximum learning to occur. Beyond the content learning needed by the individual it also takes into account their learning styles and multiple intelligences.Lastly, it provides essential information when planning for small flexible groups.
In response to what Ms. E said, "pre assessment...guides your instruction...motivates your students...and engages students in relevant and meaningful instruction," she has summarized the crux of the whole matter. Very well said! I couldn't agree more!
I absolutely believe in pre-assessment. Without it, you can't really know what your kids already know. I remember being a student in school and how mind-numbingly boring it was. I already knew everything on the tests and what the teacher was teaching. I don't want any of my students to experience that if I can help it. Plus, you're not really teaching if any of your students already knows everything in your lesson; you're wasting your time and theirs. In the primary grades, pre-assessment is vital for flexible grouping. So much of our instruction is done in a small group format, we'd be doing our students a disservice if we didn't pre-assess. I liked that the teacher was able to pre-assess her students' knowledge of plants before really getting into the plant unit. I thought it was great that she was able to find something new to focus in on during her science unit. Sometimes it's a bit frustrating trying to find something new or challenging to teach while utilizing our prescriptive SBISD science lessons. Her "Find Someone Who.." pre-assessment activity on pages 45-46 reminded me of a fun Tribes-type activity that my students might enjoy and would give me some interesting anecdotal data to examine.
I think Karen Donathen hit the nail on the head when she posted on June 20 at 7:32 AM that "Pre-assessment is essential in ascertaining the best educational experience for all students. If am doing what’s best for all kids, then I have to know how much (or little) they know about a subject before we begin." Amen to that! We all want to do right by our students and the best way to meet their needs is to meet them where they are and move on from there. Kids who are struggling don't need to be made to feel stupid and kids who are more advanced shouldn't be bored. Teaching is not a "one size fits all" business.
I believe that pre-assessment activities are critical to good 1st teaching, which I think is what we are all about. I look upon pre-assessment as the window into what could happen with the new learning. When pre-assessment is done and analyzed before a lesson is planned, the teacher has a very clear picture of what to teach students. I think pre-assessment has the ability to tell the teacher as much about what a child doesn’t know as it does about what he/she does know. I have used them in the past to help me work through the TEKS for a grade level. By taking a writing sample early on in the year, I can easily see what grammar skills a student has or has not mastered. By asking a student to problem solve in Mathematics early in the year, I can see what computation skills as well as what critical thinking skills a student possesses. So, yes, I think using pre-assessments properly gives the student and teacher a ‘leg-up’ on learning.
I agree with DiPoco regarding the paper and pencil assessments. I still see many teachers giving a paper and pencil assessment and I still see if reflected in some of the curriculum guides, which is a shame. I have never felt that these type of assessments give a true picture of what a child knows.
Ms. E - I agree too - one of the many things I like about this book is that the pre-assesments aren't pencil and paper tests. Our poor kids are tested to death. Pre tests, post tests, benchmark tests, practice TAKS, real TAKS, and field test TAKS.
Miss. Lee, if we are both doing "We're in this Together" maybe we can try Skypeing or some other interactive technology.
Comment on Miss Lee’s post of June 19th: I love your reference to ‘simple’ and ‘complex’. I totally agree-pre-assessment is the simple answer. The more complex answer is what the teacher does with the information. What decisions does the teacher make? How is the instruction different after the pre-assessment-how is it the same? Michael Fullan has a wonderful quote: “It’s as simple and complex as that.”
Pre-assessment is essential so that the time we have can be used efficiently. If we can pre-assess, we can meet the children where they are and take them where we they need to be. If we start with too much information that they know, we waste time that we could use for extension. If we leave a gap between what they know and where we start teaching we will have to go back at some point and waste time re-teaching. Taking the time to pre-assess will eliminate wasting time…pay now or pay later.I agree with tiff and Mrs. Donathan. Mrs. Donathan said "Pre-assessment is essential in ascertaining the best educational experience for all students. If am doing what’s best for all kids, then I have to know how much (or little) they know about a subject before we begin." and tiff added at the end of her response "Teaching is not a "one size fits all" business." Not only should we use pre-assessment and differenciation techniques for academics...we should use them for behavior. LOVE IT!
Yes, I absolutely believe in Pre-Assessment. We can find out what our students know and plan our instruction and make better use of our time.
In response to D. Pico: I agree with everything you wrote: pre-assessment is necessary but we also need to be selective in how we assess. Great point!
Yes, I believe that pre-assessment is the best for our students. It allows us to know where all the students are and enables us to design lessons that will be interesting and educational instead of boring especially for the gt students. I think by pre-assessing students it will also help teachers save time which is always short(it seems)
In response to Mrs. Donathan and Kaycie D.'s: I agree that we should differentiate for academics and also use it for behavioral issues. I believe by using it for behavior issues would eliminate some of the stress of trying to punish everyone the same exact way. Great ideas- thanks, ladies!
Pre-assessment makes teaching more efficient. It helps you not waste time on concepts the kids already know. It also gives you a heads up on the students that might need a little more background knowledge for the lesson. It will also provide some insight on how you can differentiate your lesson to met the individual needs of the students.
In response to D.Pico's comment, I also thought the plant web was a great pre-assessment. I also liked how it provided the students an opportunity to "share and test their ideas" before they presented it. It gives them a chance to become comfortable with a new topic so they can access their background knowledge and give you a better view of what they know.
This is a test to see if I can post to this blog. My past 3 times have failed!
Attempt #4!Of course, I believe that a great educator should inventory their students to see what prior knowledge that they have so that they can help guide the classroom instruction. At a training I did yesterday, a teacher shared with us about a Harvard Professor who uses his blogs to find out what his students know BEFORE coming to lecture. He then guides his discussion based on the posts that his students place on his blog. This would be a perfect way to help differentiate for my GT and ESL students. Using their posts, I can then pull small groups for further explorations!
I believe that pre-assessment is extremely important for my teaching. Children learn most when what they are being taught builds on what they already know. By using pre-assessment tools, I can not only spend less time on topics that my students already understand, but also teach at a level that is just beyond what they come to my class knowing. There is so much time lost covering things that my students already know. Pre-assessment also helps me gauge immediately who will be needing more help and how I can best assist them.
Like D. Pico said on June 14, I also liked the pre-assessment ideas provided in the book. They were entertaining and motivating for the students to do. I agree with D. Pico's comment that "If students are apathetic taking the test, the results obtained will not be an accurate reflection of their understanding." The plant scavenger hunt (p. 46-47) would be great in my classroom for students to not only interact and learn from their peers, but also to show me what they know, what they don't know and what they need clarification on.
Pre-assessment activities do help me in my teaching. In math, it lets me know if I need to review a concept or teach it step by step from the beginning. I pre-assessed double digit multiplication last year and it was extremely helpful to know the amount of teaching my students required on the concept. The disadvantage to pre-assessment is that it takes time when we have an already jam-packet curriculum. Finding quick and easy pre-assessment activities are key to keep on track with curriculum.
I agree with Kaycie D.'s comment- pay now or pay later. I wish that our science curriculum allowed for more flexibility.
In response to Theresa's comment about the Harvard Professor. Let's collaborate on how to use technology to pre-assess more!
Absolutely I feel that pre-assessments help! They guide your teaching. They tell you where to start, what the kids know, where the "holes" are, etc... The issue is finding the time to create the pre Assessments and in my case not making them too involved.
Yes, I believe that pre-assessment is very important to effective planning and instruction. On page 40-41 the unit developer says, "I knew that my job throughout this unit would involve matching students and activities appropriately- not only to ensure challenge and success, but also to ensure engagement..." There is no way she would have been able to match her students without starting the unit with pre-assessment. I like that she said these assessments were informal. That takes the pressure off the kids.
I agree with Ms. Lee. If pre-assessments are being given but nothing is done with the results, there really is no purpose. We teachers need the time to plan appropriate pre-assessments and also need the time to plan and adjust based on what we learn from the results.
In response to the Harvard comments from CarrieKohl and Theresa posted on June 21... I think this is a marvelous idea. It is not complicated, and it would definitely give you good insight as to what the students know. Do you all think it would work for second grade? I guess my issue would be having to teach the kids how to do the technology component in addition to the content.
I like Theresa's response about using a blog as a method of pre-assessment. I have done this before, and it was very effective and the kids really enjoyed it.
Brandy - I teach 2nd grade and it might be doable! Why don't we pilot it together? What school are you at? Then, our kids could collaborate with yours via small groups and the internet! I'm also thinking Google Docs.... Just a thought. I wish I knew the Harvard Professor's name. That is going to drive me nuts until I can figure it out! Betsy - what grade did you teach when you used the blog?
I used kidblog.org this year with my 4th graders. We posted projects (power points, photostories, wordles etc. Things from the orginal tools and the recent 11 Tools that I thought they could handle) and the kids responded to the projects presented from my other two classes. It was SUPER easy to do. Had't thought about using it for pre-assessment though! I did post a teacher question that they all had to respond to as well as asking them to post. Second graders could easily handle it!