This is a professional development blog. We'll be discussing books we read as a group. Our discussions will be focused on gifted children.
The pre-assessment strategy that I have not used is "The Five Most Difficult Questions" (pg. 53). This strategy would lend itself well to most subject content. Those students who demonstrate mastery of the content are candidates for independent study topics. To challenge the students further, several of the questions can be framed in an open-ended format. In teaching about European explorers in Texas, I would design my five pre-assessment questions around the key concepts of my unit. Those students who can satisfactorily answer 4 out of the 5 questions would participate in a more in-depth learning experience.
I would like to try "The 5 Most Difficult Questions" approach. If you've got kids that you know are beyond the basics even before you go into the preassessment, why not see if they can show you that they grasp the vital things within that unit? It just makes sense to me. As I work with teachers in my building, it's amazing how many of them just plow through the material without much practical thought about differentiation and preassessment. Others preassess and then plow through the material. They're working harder, not smarter.
Patricet, I agree with your observation of educators “plowing through” the material without much thought as to the processes available to them in assisting the learner to experience a challenge and the depth of learning. I find it interesting there are educators who continue to wok harder rather than smarter.
Certainly, preassessment creates a win-win in the learning environment. Currently, my “students” are educators participating in professional staff development. This chapter opened my thinking in regards to trainings I have participated and/or facilitated. Preassessment was not part of that process. The strategy I have used the least is the "five most difficult questions". I want to use this strategy along with others to create the optimal learning environment for educators and children alike.
The strategy I would like to try is a "Mind Map" or "The Five Most Difficult Questions" approach. Even though I am familiar with mind maps in my current position I just realized that this would be a great way to assess what students know when they come to the science lab. I only see the students for 45 minutes every two weeks so this is a great way to determine what they already know when they come to the lab about a specific science topic. As for "The Five Most Difficult Questions" the students that are ready to answer these questions could complete this preassessment and move on to an inquiry based project in the science lab. I am a little more hesitant to try this approach, but I am willing to give it a try. Who knows, it may make managing classes in the science lab a little easier if I don't have students who are bored with the experiment getting their whole group off task. I need to find ways to challenge all of my students in the science lab and this may be a great way to do so.
Patricia, I agree that many teachers continue to plow through material, regardless of pre-assessment data and knowledge of differentiation. It begs the question: Why do they do this? Speaking as an elementary teacher, it is sometimes hard to juggle five or more subject areas each day and do everything we know we are "supposed to do" (pre-assess, differentiate learning experiences, provide assessment choices, remedial intervention, enrichment activities, etc.). To coordinate all of this requires a dedicated teacher, a strong planning team and consistent, professional assistance from campus specialists. When all these elements are in place, then the achievement of our goal can be realized - student success.
I have used Interest and Experience Inventories with my students before, but not as a preassessment tool. I work with students who have IEPs so I am very excited about using this as a way for a student to give input I can use to tailor the required modifications and accommodations in a way that would enhance that student’s learning experience and chance for success.
tiggeronmars made me think about the times when I am the student at teacher trainings. I would like to use the Mind Map as a way of taking notes. Chapter 4 mentions that this strategy is based on brain research and techniques that enhance visual memory. It really looks like a way to take notes that would keep you actively listening and processing new information into categories, along with supporting details.
I would like to try the mind mapping approach with different curriculum areas to see just how much the kids can relate/explain what they already know about a subject. I think the graphic organizer approach would be less threatening to them because it is open to all types of concepts. I think all levels of students could feel successful by completing one. I have given my class the "my way" survey to see what kind of products/projects they would be most interested in. I want to incorporate some of those choices in the next projects/products for Science/Social Studies- I will let you know how it goes.
I am encouraged by Rebecca's comment about the 5 Most Difficult Questions as a pre-assessment for learning and would like to hear more about how she developed an independent work study/enrichment for those who already mastered those concepts. I would like to know to juggle all of it and keep everyone on track. My students tend to have difficulty with independent work so I'd love to hear more.
I need to become more competent in preassessment. This text offers so much sound advice on how to do it.... Unfortunately, there is more than one strategy that I've not used with students. But after six years of being in a different teaching capacity, upon returning to the classroom I know I am moving in the right direction. The Five Most Difficult Questions is newest to me (as is restructuring my time to make preassessment worthwhile). It is often difficult to prioritize what needs to be done before what has to be done right now. No more excuses.
I like the realism rebecca j.'s reflection on why teachers plow through instruction. Without appearing too negative, her thoughts, in my opinion, point toward teacher exhaustion and burn out. For me, right now I feel like I'm trying to change the tire while the wheel is in motion. Today I preassessed student knowledge on food chains. Hopefully, I'll manage avoiding being "whimsical" about who gets what instruction and when. This will have to, of course, be done after I differentiate instruction in math and reading for TAKS preparation and work stations. Writing about it helps to pave the road some...that's good.
While I have used KWL chart in as a GLAD strategy, where students move in groups from visual to visual, writing what they know, I haven't used it as an individual preassessment. My next science unit focuses on birds. How excellent to use the exact chart in the book to see who knows what! And what they would like to know and HOW. I have one student in mind that I'm feeling guilty about the over teaching he has endured--even as I've given him special projects and technology to keep him busy. I have not used preassessment. I will change this immediately.
mcushing and jeane both mentioned the Mind Map. I think it would have been excellent use during middle and high school, for those teachers who had so few moments in the classroom with us. I, too, like the brain based research. I'm thinking it fits my brain as well--colorful words, simplicity, caps.
pg.54 The pre-assessment strategy that I would like to explore is the Mind Map. My students need a visual presentation to outline ideas by using or highlighting colors, lines, spacing, upper or lowercase letters to file information in the brain. This strategy can be used in any academic subject as a starting place to determine and assess the level of understanding in a given topic. I would model this with a small group and get feedback to plan and modify instruction effectively.
The pre-assessment strategy that I have not used and am planning to use is the Interest Inventory on page 54-55. I really like how it assessed how it assessed, in a very quick manner, the students prior knowledge, content interest, and skills. It seems that this preassessment tool would be the most painless or least tedious way of aqcuiring the information necessary to design activities that allow for each student's continuous progress.
Although I have used interest inventories in the past, I have not developed content specific inventories similar to the one on p. 57. These seem to be very effective tools to evaluate content knowledge and interest, and I can even imagine using one to take an oral inventory rather than have students fill a survey out. They may even be adapted into a checklist with student names which you use while surveying them in small groups orally. That way you would immediately have a list of differentiated groups to assign differentiated activities.
I have used the KWL and the interest inventories before, but I think the pre-assesment style I would most like to try is a mind map (p. 52-53)I feel like this type of assessment would allow for both auditory and visual learners to enhance their memory. This type of organization will also help with my special education students that need readable graphic organizers to help sort their thoughts in a way that is color coded to see how everything connects.
The preassessment strategy that I have not used is the 5 Most Difficult Questions. This strategy does make sense to use and will actually promote higher level thinking and challenges that GT students thrive on. This strategy would not only interest the GT learner but could possibly help be a stem to other related topics that the GT student could pursue if mentioned and then given the opportunity.
I totally agree with patricet comment on other teachers that are teaching there students without any differentiated lessons. Many teachers, I have found, teach one lesson year after year without any changes and expect those that get it to just sit through the materials as a review. This to me is a huge waste of time and is boring to those students that are 'reviewing' information that they not only mastered the day that it was taught but could have already mastered it beforehand. Therefore that student(s) is missing a huge opportunity to surge ahead and accomplish/learn beyond the basic skills needed for that day.
One of the pre-assessment I have not used is using end of the unit assessment as the pretest. Before reading this chapter I would have never dreamed of letting the kids see, much less take the final test beforehand. I love how they put it on p. 49 to go ahead and use the final test because there should be no great mystery as to what the students are learning. It makes total sense to not waste time making another test for the pre-assessment when you can just use the one you made for the end of the unit assessment since it is testing the exact same skills. I plan on beginning with my next unit of study.
I have not used the interest and experience inventory preassessment strategy. I would like to implement this strategy in my math class. I think it would be useful to towards the end of the year after testing has taken place. Since we usually end up teaching sixth grade material, I would like to start by finding out what they know and then focusing on what they would like to learn about.
I have used multiple-choice quizzes or KWL-type charts in the past for pre-assessment. The Interest Inventory on pg.57 captures concepts very well, which would be extremely useful in social studies. Specifically in World Geography, I plan to create Interest Inventories to begin units every three weeks. It seems to be a lot of front-end work but completely worth it. As a whole, this chapter inspired me to be more organized in my pre-assessment and differentiation. This simple organization would allow me to make my "differentation strategies defensible" (pg. 46) and efficient for maximum student learning.
I have never done the “Five Most Difficult Questions” in a class. I guess I do this, but at the end of the unit or on an assessment. This might be a way to avoid teaching them what they already know, but in mixed classes we usually end up teaching all the concepts anyway because someone in the crowd won’t be up to speed. I would like to tyr this in our physics unit. This has very well defined objectives and it should be relatively easy to see what students already really know and can apply.
The pre-assessment strategy that I have not used is mind mapping. I like the visual manner in which it helps student to organize their information. I think GT students will love the idea of writing only one word on each line with all words written in color and capital letters. We have many students who like to "economize" their words as stated on page 53. I can see how this would be an effective strategy!
I like what rebecca j. said about the "five Most Difficult Questions" and allowing students the oppertunity for more in depth learning. I just haven't figured out how to do this in the mixed classes.
I would like to try the 5 most difficult questions approach. This was new to me and really caught my attention. I just need to plan ahead for it!
In response to Sharon G.-I am curious to see how their projects turn out. Did you get diverse answers in the survey? Did the kids ask a lot of questions about why they were filling it out?
The strategy I have not used as a preassessment mode is the mind map. As a teacher of younger children, I will model and use it on a current topic and then use it for preassessment when we begin our next big science topic. I think getting them to write just key words, one at a time, will be difficult at first. I have used KWL to guide inquiry projects in the past, but not like the one in the book that allowed them to suggest a wide range of presentation modes. I would be curious to see how that also works in a classroom.
I agree with what Wanda Lewis suggested about introducing the Mind Map. After modeling one time whole group, I think will do the preassessment in small groups to encourage participation by all and to observe their ability to do it on their own. I have used interest inventories to guide the formation of inquiry groups in the past. I need to reflect more on how I could utilize these for preassessment. I am really intrigued by the idea of using some of my known tools like KWL and interest inventories to guide preassessment. Like Sharon G. I am very interested in how our various trials work out in our classrooms.
Using a matching pretest/post test, as jmelancon suggests, does simplify matters, it does make sense. I know there are drawbacks because the students needing instruction will already be familiar with the post test. This makes the post test less valid. Further to what I mentioned in an earlier entry, here's what I tried: I gave the students an activity on food chains, letting them decide on a food chain to follow. The text had minimal coverage, as did the class introduction. When they got started it took no time before the students let me know they did not know the material. This obviously isn't an intentional pre-assessment. Two things come to mind with this confession: becoming systematic with a paperless pre-assessment using activotes, and having a synaptic path to get children to what they need to be studying.
I agree with what Elise Williams said about how it will be a lot of work in the beginning to prepare for the pre-assessments, but it will be worth it in the end. Like it says on p. 46, YES!! pre-assessment is worth the time because it allows for continuous progress. Pre-assessment helps to make sure that students are getting the most out of their time in class and always continuing to grow depending on their previous knowledge.
jmelancon, I am also in favor of using the post test as a preassessment and the validity of that hit home when I tried it with one of my students this week. As it turned out, he could solve probability word problems with great success, unless they involved a picture requiring him to count the objects. It became very obvious that we needed to work on a systematic way that worked for him to count items in pictorial models! The only errors he made involved either undercounting or double counting objects or pieces of pie charts. He will do much better on the probability post assessment now that he has a process for counting accurately!
“End of the Unit Assessment” I have never thought about using the end of the unit test – that is a great strategy!! On page 46 the author says, “Kids can’t learn something they already know.” By giving the end of the unit assessment students’ show what they know and you save teaching time – a win win situation. I will use this strategy this next nine weeks on my science unit on environments
I agree with jmelancon…….What an excellent idea of using the end of the unit assessment – saves time and makes sense. I look forward to trying this strategy on my next unit!!
I have not used the full KWL chart. I have just used the "what do you know" part of it to brain storm what my students already know about a topic. I really like the column which states "how do you want to learn about this topic." (p. 50). I teach 12th grade government and I know that my students sometimes get bored with the topics. If I allowed them more input and used this preassessment strategy, I think that my students would be more excited about the topics. I also feel that it is hard for me to come up with projects/assements that are different from the typical ones and I feel that my studets would definately contribute some neat ideas.
I have not used the 5 most difficult questions. I think I would like to try it with my PGP students and see how it works. Most of what we do together is research and not so skills-oriented, so it might be more of a challenge than with a more skills-oriented subject like math (p. 54). I like the idea of "testing out" of a unit in order to "free up" the student(s) to engage in more challenging experiences on the same topic. (pp. 54-55) I think so many times, teachers are worried about covering the material necessary that they forget that there are kids who already know a lot about the subject and need to be pushed to another level. This strategy would do just that.
@Sara Russo: I really liked the suggestion about using the memory map for the special education students to help them get organized and sort out their thoughts. I am definately going to use this in my class. Sometimes it is overwhelming to come up with a million different strategies on your own and it is nice to read suggestions and think "I can do that."
I agree with Elise Williams when she states that it seems like a lot of work up front to create an interest inventory. But it would be worth it in the end! I also think it gives the kids more ownership of what they are learning and how they learn it. There are so many great ideas in this book! i just wish there was more time to plan and implement...
In response to Christa - I have used the KWL charts for years, but I'm not sure I've used them correctly. It seems like I've always had to be reminded to go back and fill in the last part or to revisit it at the end of the unit. The kids want to go back and check things off, but I forget! I also like the idea of "how to learn" the material. Again, that gives them ownership and may produce some really creative products!
I agree with Jeanne that mind-mapping would be a great way to take notes myself when I am in a meeting or a workshop, and I plan on trying it. It is a much more interesting way to take notes than just making a straight outline, which is my usual mode. I think this method would also work well with kids who are non-linear thinkers.
The method I have not used, but would like to try is the Five Most Difficult Questions. As a counselor, there are character ed. and social/emotional themes that I carry on in guidance lessons from year to year. It would be helpful to me and more productive for my students if I were to assess them in this way to know which ones are able to internalize these themes in a way that leads to actual practice, and which ones still need more practice.
I can relate to kandel's fan about feeling like you are "changing the tire while the wheel is in motion." Pre-assemsment, if you are not already accustomed to using it can certainly be overwhelming thinking about tackling it for every concept in every subject area. We also have to remember that we can take this on one step at a time, and to collaborate with our teammates, our specialists, and any and everyone who will help! Teaching is also a process of learning, and as we become more and more experienced we will grow in our understanding of not only what is best for students, but the best way to implement it.
Tiggeronmars talked about preassessment from a staff development point of view. When I teach in settings like Teacher U, it is basically a one-shot deal and not very conducive to preassessment. I think, though, that I could definitely adapt some preassessment strategies in my ongoing work with teachers in my building. I'll have to think about how I could do that.
In response to S.Hardie, using the 5 most difficult questions in an open-ended manner would serve two purposes (1)Communicates prior knowledge (2)Be a stem to allow the learner to explore topics and prompt the teacher to allow them to pursue those topics. I like it!
In response to Kandel's fan, we all need to continue to become competent. I believe we all need to continue to push ourselves to be life-long learners in order to be excellent teachers. We need to continue to become "competent" in meeting the needs of our students, building relationships with them, and exhausting all possible avenues to make sure they are growing in their learning (a.k.a. differentiating based on assessed student need).I need to become more competent in preassessment. This text offers so much sound advice on how to do it.... Unfortunately, there is more than one strategy that I've not used with students. But after six years of being in a different teaching capacity, upon returning to the classroom I know I am moving in the right direction. The Five Most Difficult Questions is newest to me (as is restructuring my time to make preassessment worthwhile). It is often difficult to prioritize what needs to be done before what has to be done right now. No more excuses.
I have not used the five most difficult questions preassessment. To be honest, I hadn't thought about that approach. Thinking back to when I taught middle school math, that would have been a great approach to use to with the youth I felt already knew the concepts. I could have had those students move on to more in-depth applications of the objectives, and I would have felt completely at ease that they knew the content--being that the five most difficult questions had been asked and answered. I can use this now when I am in classrooms working with students regarding friendship issues.
I like what Patty said...I had not thought about using the mind mapping myself during meetings. I am a very visual, yet linear, learner, so this would really help me look at the material in a different way.
Although I do preassess in my classroom, especially with respect to the Navigators units provided to me by the district for one math unit each nine weeks in math, I have never used mindmapping or the Five Most Difficult Questions as a preassessment strategy. I do not see that mindmapping would be as easily used in math as would the five most difficult questions. I will definitely incorporate this for additional units where Navigators pre-tests aren't readily available, such as measurement or fractions.
Like brollins, jmelancon, and others, I, too, appreciate the suggestion in this chapter that it is acceptable to use one test for both the pre-assessment and the post-assessment. Why reinvent the wheel! The students who don't do well enough on the pre-assessment are not probably too likely to "memorize" the test. You could defnitely throw in 2-3 new questions that would validate that they do in fact know the material and didn't just memorize the questions from the pre-assessment.
The preassessment strategy that I have never used is the Five Most difficult questions strategy. I feel it would work well in both my academic and ap economics classes. I would probably make it a group challenge activity in my academic classes and make it individual for my ap classes. I feel the students would be challenged and engaged in the material with this strategy. I also feel like it will allow me to see what material (particularly in the AP classes) that I do not have to spend a lot of time explaining. I think I would expand on this preasssessment strategy by letting the students come up with some of the questions over time.
Sharon G- I agree that the mind mapping approach would be a great tool for both you and your IEP students. I feel that most students are familiar and comfortable with graphic organizers because they do not feel there is a right or wrong answer. It would be interesting to see if these same students could eventually come up with their own mind maps to give to the other classes or students. Mind maps allow them to think outside the box and to relate many of their own interests to the subject matter.
I agree with melscales. By doing a pre/post assessment, we will be able to see more clearly what students are able to do. Sometimes, I feel like we sell ourselves short by not acknowledging that some students do come in with prior knowledge that we can tap into to enhance the lesson, rather than teaching everything.
I agree with rebeccaj on p.53 The Five Most Difficult questions that is a preassessment strategy to move ahead in their learning. I would allow students to write their own questions, research the information, give a visual representation to the class answering the five hardest questions on that specific topic. Everyone wins when each student makes continous progress at some learning level.