Monday, October 12, 2015

Assessment Made Easy

I am honored to introduce our guest blogger this week, Melanie Redden from Snips, Snails, and Teacher Tales. Melanie is without a doubt one of the very best teachers I know and for sure the very best teaching partner a girl could ever hope to have. I have learned along side this spectacular person for over a decade. My two best years of teaching were spent Platooning with Melanie. She is a gift to all who know and love her. It is my pleasure to share her words of wisdom. Be prepared for brilliance!
Hi there!  I’m Melanie from Snips, Snails, & Teacher Tales, and I’m so honored to have this opportunity to be a guest blogger on Planning In Paradise!  

WARNING:  I’ve NEVER blogged in my life.  So I am terrified excited about sharing a few ideas and FREEBIES to help make assessment in your classroom a bit easier.  Try and stay with me here...

If you are anything like me, by this time in the school year you are drowning in paperwork.  There are assessments to give, papers to grade, and student progress to track.  It certainly doesn’t help that first quarter report cards and parent conferences are looming right around the corner.  Basically, it’s crunch time!

So go ahead!  You know you want to!  Hit that EASY BUTTON and make all that stress disappear!  “How?” you ask.  By putting part of the responsibility back into the hands of your students!  

Here are a few ways that I do that in my classroom.  

At the start of each math unit, I write down the standards that we will be covering on a piece of chart paper.  I know, it’s not pretty (and definitely not “Pinterest Perfect”) but I’m all about fast, easy, and practical.  As we move through the unit, the students will use the chart to notify me of which concepts they would like to receive either (1) enrichment or (2) remediation.  They simply write their name down on a sticky with a quick note to me and then slap it up on the chart.  This has been a great tool to use when making small groups for math rotations.

My school uses performance-based assessment.  So I created this Student Grading Rubric to help my students with the self-assessment process, as well as to understand the expectations.  {’s great for parents too!}  
Student Grading Rubric

I don’t know about you, but when it comes time to grade papers I often fantasize about what it would be like to hire a personal secretary.  I know, I know...assessment drives instruction!  It’s necessary in order to get a complete picture of each child in your classroom, as well as a snapshot into the effectiveness of your teaching.  So instead, I just squash my fantasy and hit that EASY BUTTON!  As a result, I created this Show What You Know document.
Show What You Know Freebie
The students use this form to record the learning goal or the objective that we are working on.  I love to use this tool as a lesson quick-check to see who is grasping the concept and who may need some additional support.  Referring to the Student Grading Rubric (that I enlarge into a poster), my students will check where they feel they are in the learning process.  Then they will show me what they know with an example of their thinking for that objective.  I love that I can just walk around the classroom and take a quick grade by glancing at the examples they provide.  No papers to collect and grade!  EASY!           
Finally, as a way to hold my students accountable for their own learning I have created these individual Math Data FoldersWith these folders, my students have really become aware of their strengths as well as the areas that need improvement.  They use their data folders to continuously reflect on their progress by setting goals and making plans on how to be successful in math throughout the school year. 

In the folders, all of the Common Core math standards for 2nd grade are organized by topic. My students record both a formative and summative grade for each standard. This allows them to determine which areas need improvement. In the back of the folders, we keep goal setting and reflection sheets in order to make a plan on how to increase proficiency before the summative assessment is taken. Once all standards have been covered in a topic area, the students will take the overall grade and graph their progress on a growth chart.
Math Data Folders & Goal Setting 
This data folder will ensure that your students know at all times how they are progressing, so that report card grades will never be a surprise. They are even great to use as evidence of student growth to show parents during conferences. 

If you’ve stuck with me this far, then I sure hope that you have found some inspiration to make your life easier and your students more successful! So go ahead...hit that EASY BUTTON! 


* I told you she was brilliant! Thanks for sharing, Melanie. This makes assessment and goal setting a piece of cake! Snips, Snails, and Teacher Tales you are the best!


  1. I love all these ideas! Fabulous job Melanie!

  2. Melanie, these are great ideas... very practical and smart. I like how you give the kids the big picture at the beginning of each unit and post the standards on a chart to keep everyone focused. And thanks for all the freebies... they're awesome!

  3. I love the chart idea Melanie!! Thanks for sharing!