Tch Tips: Three Ways to Formatively Assess Content and Language

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As educators, we all know how important it is to assess student learning. Often, formative assessment strategies focus on student understanding of content learning. But what about language learning?

Whether or not you have ELLs in your classroom, our students are always improving their language skills. Why not try a formative assessment strategy that checks in on both language and content?

Here are four ways you can assess all students for content and language learning in your classroom:

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Tch Tips: Creative Assessment Strategies

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Do your students meet your test announcements with an audible groan?

You probably want to be more creative, but there’s just so much content you have to explore with your students and so little time. It may seem impossible to break away from those boring but efficient paper-and-pencil tests. But what if I told you that creativity and efficient, effective assessment are not mutually exclusive?

There are many creative and exciting ways to assess student learning and measure applied proficiency beyond the traditional paper-and-pencil tests.

Take some of these great ideas for a spin in your classroom sometime soon.

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Math in Early Childhood: 6 Strategies for Teaching Math Throughout the Day

Building on Young Children's Mathematical Thinking

Hour-long lessons? Asking students to work quietly at their desks? Not in early childhood!

Effective preschool teachers have perfected the art of infusing learning throughout their day so students can learn in continuous, small chunks while engaging in hands-on activities. Our latest video series, created in partnership with Development and Research in Early Math Education (DREME), features six engaging lessons that build on young children’s mathematical thinking. These videos do an amazing job at getting us to rethink what is possible in early childhood math.

While we were filming these lessons, we got a chance to capture six strategies that can be used to teach math throughout the day. These strategies get kids moving, connecting, and building understanding. As you watch, think about which strategies you would like to adapt for use in your classroom.

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Setting the Tone for All Learners with Visual Cues

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Inclusion practices have moved many students from special education rooms into mainstream classes, and as I’ve traveled the states as Oregon Teacher of the Year, I’ve heard one message loud and clear:

General education teachers need help adapting their classrooms and lessons for a wider range of skills.

We have classrooms with students reading at the Pre-K level sitting next to kids who read at the pre-college level.

Teachers need help.

These differences in ability are not just academic. Think of your own classrooms and the different behaviors and social skills you navigate each day. We have kids all over the place — so we teachers are going to be teaching all over the place.

Teaching Channel has invited me in to look at their amazing video lessons from inspiring teachers and imagine some adaptations that might help out your learners with IEPs (Individualized Education Programs). This is not to critique their outstanding work, but rather a special education teacher thinking about what one of my students might need to succeed — in that classroom, and with that same lesson. I want to set the tone from blog one and let these amazing teachers know how much they inspire me.

And on that note, I can’t think of a better video lesson to start with than Nick Romagnolo’s Setting the Tone from Day One. Hats off to Nick, because had I seen this video as a student teacher, I would’ve had a much better start to my career!

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Three Alternative Approaches to Effective Testing

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Popular culture often presents school assessment in the narrowest possible fashion. Based on what we see in films and television, it would seem that assessment in schools is restricted to a narrow range of tests: How often do we watch students in fictional classes being told they have a pop quiz tomorrow or see them practicing fill-in-the-bubble SAT questions?

This might be a stereotype of teacher practice, but it speaks to a deeper issue that teachers face: It can be difficult to see the full range of options open to us when we’re trying to find the best way to assess our students.

Testing itself represents just one small subset of assessment practice, but it’s a good example of the broader problem. There are a lot of different ways to use tests to assess your students, but in the hubbub of a busy classroom, it’s easy to default to the same one or two test types and use them in the same old way.

The best way to avoid this trap is having some alternative testing strategies in your toolkit to widen your options.

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Winter Olympics: 5 Rings, 5 Events, 5 Engineering Challenges

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Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, get on up it’s…”  Olympics time!

~ Sanka Coffie, Cool Runnings

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The Olympics are full of amazing athletes, but what keeps people watching night after night are the stories.

For two weeks every four years, households around the world tune in to watch. We cheer on Apolo Ohno, Lindsey Vonn, and Shawn White. We’re suddenly captivated by otherwise mundane tasks like sweeping (curling anyone?).

The stories of the athletes teach lessons of perseverance in which athletes train, and retrain, and retrain… until they reach their goal and the glory.

How can we provide students with analogous opportunities to embrace a process that leads them to overcome a challenge and improve upon a system?

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Tch Tips: Five Strategies to Assess Young Students’ Learning

Tch tips

When we think of assessment, we often think about tests. But good assessment is much more than tests — it’s a chance to discover what our students understand so that we can help them learn and grow.

Just like with everything else, assessment looks a little different for young students. Our squirrelliest little ones are not likely to sit down for many formal assessments, so the majority of them may be informal. Most of the time, students’ learning can be assessed without them even realizing it. But getting students engaged in the assessment process can be powerful as well.

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Glowing and Growing Through Self-Assessment

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by Teaching Channel’s Vice President of Engagement, Paul Teske

Paul TeskeThis summer, I was humbled and energized by the diversity, compassion, and wisdom of the educators that we convened as part of the Fab Five ELL Squad and California District EL Network. The goal in our gathering was to deepen our understanding of how best to serve bi- and multi-literate students. With the generous support of the Helmsley and Stuart Foundations, we came together to share our challenges and collective wisdom.

With the support of Sarah Ottow from Confianza, each member of the ELL Squad had a project with distinct goals for better understanding their puzzles of practice. Our Fab Five ELL Squad will be sharing their useful work in the upcoming months.

Damaris Gutierrez is first up in our Fab Five ELL series of blog posts. Damaris is from Northside ISD in San Antonio, Texas, where she served as the teacher of elementary refugee students in a sheltered instruction environment. In her project, she focused on reading instruction, culturally responsive teaching, and assessment.

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As a newcomer ESL teacher to refugee students in an elementary setting, my classroom was self-contained and I taught language through content in a sheltered instruction environment.

The thought of teaching self-reflection terrified me.

I just didn’t know how to do this with my students.

But self-reflection and assessment is a requirement of the SIOP Model I use with my English Language Learners (ELLs). I remember reading this requirement and thinking — how? How can I get my beginner ELLs, who have limited or no prior schooling experience, to reflect on their language development and content knowledge in English?

Throughout the process of becoming a National Board Certified Teacher, I’ve had to assess my own teaching practices, plan to improve my instruction and act on those plans, view my own teaching, and reflect on my teacher actions and student learning. But teaching my students to self-assess their own learning really challenged my ideas about what they were capable of doing.

Self-reflection would first challenge me to think beyond my current expectations and then inspire me to explore new teaching practices. Read more