I am back again today to bring my thoughts on chapter 3 of Mindsets in the Classroom. I will also be linking up with the lovely ladies at Hello Sunshine. If you haven't joined us yet I encourage you to do so. This is an amazing book!
This was a very large chapter but it was filled with lots of great information that I found very helpful. I am blessed to work in a private school and have always had small class sizes. This has allowed me to be very flexible in how I teach. This past year I taught reading and math in groups with whole group mini lessons. It was a rough start but we made it into a functional system that the kids seemed to enjoy. After reading this chapter I have so many things I want to change about how I made the groups and how I assessed for them.
She began by discussing previewing and preassessing. I have always done assessments at the beginning of new units but I had never thought to preview the material ahead of time, other than just telling them what the assessment was on. Ricci states that 5-10 minutes of previewing can help a student unlock prior knowledge so that they can give their teacher a better reflection of their understanding on a topic.
These preassessments are such an important part of a differentiation. They show you where students are struggling and what they already know. These can also help you place students in correct groupings that will help them with their struggles and challenge them at the same time. She stressed that you must only measure their understanding in the areas that you are assessing. So if it isn't a spelling assessment, don't worry about the spelling. This is something that I am guilty of but more when it comes to grammar. She also stresses the importance of using different formats and effective questions. I like using different formats because I find it fascinating how my little firsties think.
Assessing the data that these assessments bring forth is important. I typically create a graph with what was assessed and the names of the kids who struggled. This way I can find overlaps a little easier. This is also what I use when I create my groups. I tend to change my groups every nine weeks in reading because we run several formative assessments to see how they are doing. That usually results in adjustments. I love being flexible in my groups. It was difficult for my at first but once I got a little better at it I was able to see how much more my students learned. I also had fewer behavior issues doing this because my groups were changing and students figured out that eventually they would probably end up with a friend. Math changed a little more often because we use Saxon math so concepts go by very quickly and I need to switch a lot more to help students out.
One thing that I will always need to work on is management. Every class is so different and the way they handle things is different. I need to make sure that my expectations are posted and very clear when they are in groups.
One of the things she closes the chapter with is the importance of formative assessments. I never used to do a lot of these but I have changed the way I teach so much over the last few years that now I do quite a few. I like having my kids write answers on the Promethean board because it focuses their attention and it allows me to see what they know and what they don't. It also is very casual to them because I usually allow them to call for classmate help if they get stuck. We also do games to help us test our knowledge on a subject. My class this past year loved Around the World. We must have played that in every subject. They enjoyed it and I got to see who knew the information and who didn't. I feel that I need to work more on the enrichment side of things though. I definitely did not do as well as I would like in this area last year. I struggle with ideas for solid enrichment ideas that are not always worksheet based. It is one of my goals for this summer and next school year to find better enrichment activities.
One thing that I have never done before but would like to do this year is exit slips. I like the idea of giving the kiddos a question at the end of every class about the topic we covered to see what they learned.
Well that is all for now. Talk to you all again tomorrow with the awesome chapter 2 of Teaching with Intention.