Assessment in Perspective: Using Displays
Assessment in Perspective: Focusing on the Reader Behind the Numbers (stop by the final Stenhouse blog tour site: Reflect and Refine on Wednesday, May 22nd for a conversation with the authors, Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan). The book provided a smart discussion of types of assessments, purpose for assessment, and practical ways to capture the stories of readers within the busy days of learning in our classrooms. The authors shared ways to balance summative assessments required by districts, states, and federal mandates, with the formative assessments we value in our daily work with children.
I found the book to be very applicable to classroom practice, but I must admit when I first saw the title for chapter 4, Triangulating Assessment, I felt my heart race and tension begin to rise within me. However, when I went to read this chapter I found it not to be about looking at three types of formal assessments and averaging the numbers to make an instructional decision. Instead, the authors talked about formulating our questions about readers, determining the ways to find out more (making assessment decisions), and then gathering a variety of information to begin to shape the stories of learners. In this conversation they shared ways to display the information in order to think more deeply about it.
For the authors, triangulating assessment is about "analyzing, questioning, and assessing." It's about asking big questions and finding what's next for learners. In talking about using displays, Tammy and Clare shared bar graphs, stem-and-leaf graphs, data walls, line graphs, conferring notes, "messy sheets," picture graphs and other ways we can display information to begin to make instructional decisions. I loved the way they showed examples that easily work within our day to day classroom practices and the conversations we have about the learners in our classrooms with our instructional teams. Putting a name to many of the assessment techniques we use helped me to think about them more deeply.
Capturing the Stories of Learners
This conversation also caused me to pause to consider the way collecting assessment information in my classroom as transformed since I have moved from a notebook to my iPad. It's been a little more than a year since I packed my paper notebook away and went digital. The transformation has been freeing and helped me to be so much more effective. Here are a few "must haves" for finding the stories of learners in my classroom:
Evernote!: Evernote has set me free. It is the number one application I want to use for assessment as it allows me to flexibly gather information about learners. I can take pictures of student work, record conversations, write notes, link to student digital writing, and tag it all in ways to easily group and locate it for reflection and planning. It has really helped organize all the little pieces of information I collect to tell the stories of the children in my classroom. It's easy to get started and use. Here's a page I created to collect resources for Evernote.
Ghostwriter: Ghostwriter, part of the Evernote trunk, is one of the newer applications I've added to my list (thanks, Marie!). I like Ghostwriter because it allows me to collect information about individuals (perfect for intervention plans), small groups, or the entire class. I can create a form or table to collect information, snap a picture of it, and make it the "paper" for a notebook. Then I am able to type or write directly on the document. Every day I can turn the page to get a new piece of paper already dated and can easily send this information to Evernote, parents, or team members. Ghostwriter has its glitches, but they are well worth it. I'm sure it will continue to improve.
These are a few of my "must haves" for going digital in capturing the stories of learners within my classroom. What are your favorites? I'd love to hear more.