This is a professional development blog. We'll be discussing books we read as a group. Our discussions will be focused on gifted children.
I have never used Mind Maps, the 5 most difficult questions, and the Interest and Experience Inventory. I will use all 3 of the strategies in my classroom. I will use them throughout the year before I introduce a lesson so that I know what my students already know or don't know. This will give me concrete information that I need to justify the need for differentiation. The author states at the beginning of Chapter 4 pg. 45 that the goal of education is “helping students learn only what they don’t already know.” Pre-assessments will also help me keep better records. I totally agree with the authors when they say that documentation is evidence that we don’t make learning decisions based on a whimsy pg.47. These strategies will help me group my students according to what they know and don’t know. The strategies will help guide instruction as well as keep better records so that I may plan lessons and small groups to meet the needs of all of my students.
In chapter 4, there were a couple of strategies that I haven’t tried and my interest is now sparked. ‘The Five Most Difficult Questions’ is a technique that I think will work well for students that I might work with who are struggling with reading comprehension. The questions would not be centered around content but around reading strategies that they may or may not know about. This will guide me in how I work with these students so that we achieve optimal learning. I have always used the final section of the KWL chart as a recap of what we learned. The ‘Learned’ section did not get filled out until the learning was done. Roberts and Inman suggest using the ‘Learned’ section of the KWL chart for how you want to learn about the topic. I think this would be great information for a teacher to have as she starts a unit of study. I plan to try both of these two techniques with students and teachers with whom I work.
I definitely need to improve my system of keeping preassessment data in students’ files. This will help further demonstrate to students and their families the need for differentiation. It will also improve my ability to monitor their progress throughout the year (page 47).I will definitely try using the end of the unit assessment before teaching a concept. The author is correct in stating that I do assume their results on the end of the unit assessment are a product of what I taught them. I need to identify which students have already mastered this content prior to arriving in my class in order to give them an opportunity to research the topic on a much greater level. This will also allow me to work more with students that are struggling with the concept at a basic level (pages 49-50).I believe the Mind Map is an extension of the word web I have used in the past. It is an improvement in that in uses different colors to enhance visual memorization. It also makes it easier to expand on ideas at another time whereas the word web limits the space you can use to elaborate on main ideas. I also think this would be an effective tool with reluctant writers because it only asks them to write one-word ideas. I would wonder if one-word ideas may make it difficult for teachers to understand students’ meanings but a one to one conference with the student could remedy that situation (pages 52-53).I am not a big fan of the open-ended questions as preassessment tools because it has been my experience that some students do not like to write/respond to questions regardless of topic and may need to demonstrate understanding through other means (ex. a slideshow, an artwork, etc.) (page 55).
KHarrellIn looking at preassessment, I do a lot of it with the GT students I work with. Some of the strategies I have used, but did not know they had a name...it just made sense at the time. The five most difficult questions is one I need to work with the most...it is one that I have used questioning strategies, but never posed the questions that I want a student to know at the end. I need to be more aware of the questions I pose to the students. I am currently teaching summer school..so this week I attempted to do this strategy with the students at summer school. I quickly learned where we needed to start. The KWL chart we have modified during summer school to be Know/Need to Know. It's amazing how many of the strategies actually work together. Working with the students I have the summer is greatly different than my GT students during the year, but using these strategies has helped guide the summer school program...it just confirms that you need to preasses...nothing is worse for a student than to continue to go over something that they know and know well.In response to R. Allen, I too need to work on keeping documentation of preassessment. Sometimes it is done, but I don't record what the students did. When it comes time to check off the accomplishments, I don't have the paperwork/files to document what the students actually accomplished.
In response to croth, June 17th 7:40am, I had never considered using the Learned section from the KWL chart as a "how you want to learn the topic" either. I've always used it in the same way, as a way to recap what was learned. I like this idea. It has lots of applications for classrooms in all content areas.
I tend to use open-ended questions when I preassess, which I will continue to use, but I have never used mind mapping. In open-ended questions the students really do need to write quite a bit, and be fairly proficient in their ability to communicate their understanding in this way. Mind Mapping uses just one word for each line that relates to the topic and big ideas. I can see this being much more successful for my students who have a lot of knowledge on a topic, but may not have the writing skills needed to demonstrate that knowledge through questions. I also want to try the 5 Most Difficult Questions. Even though they are questions, they don't necessarily need to have written responses. If I preassess students' ability to subtract across 0 with 3 digits, I can find out who really needs this instruction, and who knows this skill already.I can use these preassessments in many content areas. The one thing I'm really going to have to work on is keeping up with the paper. Organization of this kind of paperwork is not a strong suit for me. I totally agree with its value for me and parents, but I will have to make an effort to provide a place for it when I set up my classroom so that I know exactly where it is when I need it.
To comment on Ldavis June 18th post, I was trying to decide why anyone felt comfortable using the mind mapping preassessment. I realized that it is much like webbing about a topic you want to write about and you write out the things you already know (that you want to include in it). That can easily be used as a preassessment as well. The only difference is it is one word descriptions rather than phrases. Seeing the Figure 4.6 on page 54 was helpful. When LDavis stated that it might be easier for students who might not have the writing skills to explain their thinking it made me see the connection to webbing as a prewriting strategy. That was helpful for me.
I was a bit overwhelmed with some of these preassessment strategies. I have used some and feel comfortable with them. I want to continue them but do these more like they are described here. For example the K-W-L, I never used the L portion as it was described here with its intent to be how they want to learn about their wonderings (P52). I like this for students, but I feel like in the lower grades we would need to give them ideas (in the beginning anyway) for ways they can learn more about it. The end-of-unit assessment is usually easy to accomplish, but I need to do this more often than I have done in the past. It was difficult for me to allow for a score of 80% to be considered "already mastered" (P49). I usually would use 90% as my goal. I love using Open-Ended Questions but again I feel like I could do more of these. I also liked the idea of dividing them into 3 stacks of levels to aid with group work (P55).The preassessment I have not used before is the Mind Map. I have used something similar as a prewriting strategy but this is a newer version that I can see as a helpful tool for me to see what students already know about a topic. I plan to implement this by starting a science unit. I will ask them to use this when to describe what they know about matter. I appreciate Figure 4.6 (P54). It really helps to see an example of how it is used.
I am just starting to think about using preassessements for determining how to differentiate, so I haven't had experience with any of the models in this chapter. I like the KWL as described on page 50. The L for how you want to learn about the topic would be good for planning group instruction on a topic. As as been stated by croth, ldavis and several post, I had not thought about using the L as an inventory of how they would like to learn about the topic.The mind mapping is another preassessment I will try in my class. This is a good way to check for vocabulary understanding before, during and after a unit. Also, keeping the preassessments in an individual folder is a great reminder to document, document, document!
This past year I did some preassessment in math since I had a handful of students who knew a lot coming in,however, I definitely will be using this in other subject areas this coming year. In math, I gave my students 5 problems to solve. I could figure out pretty quickly who knew how to multiply or divide and how they were going about solving the problems. I have your KWL charts in science and social studies, but I have to say I am not very good about following up with the "L" part. I definitely see the KWL chart as a great way to form inquiry small groups. What a great way for students to continue making progress in their learning.(pg.50)I have also heard of mind mapping, but I have never used it or really had it explained to be very well. I definitely see this becoming useful in science. I have used open-ended questions in class discussions. This is may be a great writing activity this way I have the documentation that was mentioned in the chapter (p.47) and it will give me a basis for forming small groups.
I have not yet implemented the Mind-Mapping Strategy as described on pages 52-53. Not only does it seem be a great way to pre-assess in Science and Social Studies, it also seems to be a great way to activate their prior knowledge before beginning a new unit of study. I also liked the idea of the Five Most Difficult Questions (pg.53-54). I can see how that would be very useful in Math.
One of the pre-assessment strategies I have not used is the five most difficult questions and I will definitely give that a try. It has really got me puzzling out what those questions would look like in reading and writing. I think back to the beginning of the book when the author writes about the importance of knowing what you want the students to know (p.9). Knowing that, it should be pretty easy to determine what the the five most difficult questions are, and as the author writes, this is easy with math skills. However, I teach language arts and I am trying to process what this would look like in the teaching of a reading comprehension strategy, for instance. I have proposed questions to the whole group as we begin a unit of study on a strategy to gage students' prior knowledge, but it has always been fairly informal. I am realizing that if my instructional decisions are to be intentional, I need to be more systematic in my record keeping. The author writes that defensible differentiation requires the teacher to have a record of what the students know and are able to do before the unit begins(p.47).In RESPONSE to Croth on June 17th who wrote that she/he would center the five most difficult questions on the strategy rather than the content: I wonder what that would look like. I have been pondering this myself and I’m just not sure. If students were working on inferring, for example, would you ask...what is an inference?(possible answer: something the reader determines that is not directly stated in the book)...what does a reader use to infer?(text and background knowledge)....OR would you provide a passage and ask them demonstrate five types of inferential thinking...perhaps in determining word meaning, drawing conclusions, author’s purpose, character feelings....ummmm??? I’m just not sure what this would like in reading.
In response to Rob, I also need to keep better records of my pre-assessment data. I am trying to think of way to organize all pre-assessment data.
I have never used Mind Maps as a preassessment, nor have I used Interest and Experience Inventory. I will use the Interest and Experience Inventory this year with our social studies and science units. I will also change my L section when I do some KWL charts. I love asking the students how they want to learn about a topic before starting a unit. On page 49 it states that, "If a child knows 80% of the material there is no need for him to do it again." I have been using 90% as my guideline for differentiating material. I believe I need to rethink my expectations and challenge those earning 80% and higher.In response to Idavis, I also need to be more organized when it comes to documentation. In math my students keep a challenge folder in their desks. The folder contains their preassessments for each unit and their extension lessons/activities that I teach in small group. I do not keep the same kind of documentation in my other subject areas.
I've never used The Five Most Difficult Questions, as described on pages 53-55. I tend to go into a unit or daily lesson thinking that the students will sort of self-assess and use their time accordingly, but I think what winds up happening is that those students who could have gone ahead or been given a different assignment wind up getting bored and tuning out. I was having a hard time trying to figure out how and where I could fit it into my lessons, but I realized that it would lend itself to the AP poetry and prose multiple choice passages. I could choose the five most difficult questions or terms from those questions to use, and then have some supplementary questions that delved deeper for those students who proved that they already knew the information.
Oh, and I've finally figured out how to change my blogger profile name--it was formerly catieandbrian.
In response to croth, I thought it was a very interesting point to place emphasis on using the five most difficult questions to determine what strategies a student knows rather than what content. In third grade, it is so important that students become familiar and comfortable with the strategies used in reading passages. This is especially true when they have to take the TAKS and must read/comprehend material from at least four or five different compositions. With those strategies in place, students will have better endurance which I believe is a key component to success on state mandated tests. Using the five most difficult questions to determine if they understand strategies (reading the questions first, writing the main idea of each paragraph on the side, etc.) seems like a sound way to determine their strengths and areas of improvement and to be able to keep records of such data.
The new concept for me in preassessment is using the five most difficult questions. It is really a simple concept and is a logical assessment. Once a student has successfully answered those question, they can move on to more challenging topics.In response to William Allen on June 17th: I agree with his opinion on using open-ended questions. Some students who know the information don't want to "write" about what they know, they want to "show" what they know.In response to idavis on June 18: I strongly agree that organized documentation is a must!
I think preassessment is an interesting, because although most people agree that it is not a good thing to have any learner sit through a lesson on material they are already familiar with, many people do not utilize this as a part of their classrooms. K-W-L charts are a huge part of our campus, especially in LA, but I also liked how the "L" portion of the charts exhibited on pages 50-52 asks how the learner would like to learn more about the topic. I also was not familiar with the Mind Mapping mentioned on pages 52-55. I would very much like to try this in a number of subject areas.
I'm a librarian & don't have a great need to do elaborate pre-assessments. I do teach a PGP class but it's for 1st & 2nd graders. We use KWL occasionally but to be honest we rarely teach something that some of the kids already "know". Most if not all of what we do is technology based and our students do not come from homes where every child is given a computer at birth. After reading this chapter I do plan to use KWL with my after school bloggers since I know I'll have some that were with me last year. Actually, I did use it informally last year and usually had different bloggers working on different projects.I have to admit the mind map made me a little crazy. I'm a librarian and a Virgo and I like my thoughts neat and orderly and all in a row - not rolling around the page like a Katherine Wheel on steroids. I really can's see using it with 1st & 2nd graders - it seems best suited to secondary age students.
In response to LDavis's comment - the 5 most difficult questions seem tailor made for math questions. I can also see them used in social studies classes - Name 5 causes of the First World War and write a paragraph on each cause and how it inter realates to the other 4.
In response to annm - I too am going to ask the students "how they want to learn" - I'm rather curious as to what kind of reponses I get. I wonder if they will opt for group work or individual work? I know from experience that many GT kids loathe group work since they often end up carrying the group.
I have used KWL charts "ad nauseam;" however, as Kevetts and s.guillory have commented, I am interested in what would happen if “L” were changed to “How do you want to learn about this topic?” as shown on page 52. I imagine this would encourage some great reflection in the students about themselves as learners.
Kharrellin response to of life....., as a librarian and instructor of primary GT see limited use of some of the preassessments. Much of my instruction is under the guidance of the classroom teacher, I may try the strategies of asking how they want to learn...I'm sure the answers will be as varried as the students.
The strategy that I plan to implement in the classroom from the first unit on is the Five Most Difficult Questions Strategy as discussed in the book on page 54, I am going to apply this one specifically to math to begin with. I think later on in the year, once the kids get more comfortable communicating in written form, I will extend the open ended question preassessment to Social Studies. I have always used the KWL chart and plan to continue to do so. I think the interest inventory would be beneficial for teaching reading strategies and features of NF text. They choose the topic and I choose the TEK.
In response to S.Guillory, I had been using the KWL charts a lot in the classroom, but the L was going back to the chart and adding what it was that we had learned about that topic during the lesson that day/week. I really like rephrasing the L to how you would like to learn it rather than what we learned.
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One of the strategies have not used is “the Five Most Difficult Questions” as a preassessment strategy to begin a unit(page 53).I always think about what my desired outcome will be for my students with learning objectives. However, I have never determined the five most difficult questions I want the students to be able to answer. I love how that just broadens my spectrum of instructions and open the students’ capacity of learning. If the students are able to richly answer those five difficult questions then I know in my heart that my instruction was clear.I am going to use that “the Five Most Difficult Questions” when I introduce a new unit of study such as Magnetism and Electricity and Texas History. Using this strategy is like working backwards. I will start with the end in mind.
Responding to Marty:K-W-L Charts are great but students can get overload on them. Try to change up the preassessments when starting a new unit. Sometimes with the "What do you want to know" piece might get the response "nothing!" Just try to use different ones and revisit the good ones sparingly.
I have not used the five most difficult questions as a preassessment. I will start off by using this strategy in Science because I have noticed some of them are already familiar with the content, for example, Water, Plant and Animal Cycle. These questions will be a great way for me to know how to group them and create activities based on what they know and need to know. (pg. 48) I also need to get better at keeping each student’s records with their preassessments to show parents their child’s growth. Keeping a record of the preassessments facilitates communication of the learning progress between you and your students, as well as between you and parents (pg. 47) In response to JChoy June 18, I have used the KWL charts in Social Studies and Science, and I also have a hard time following up with what they Learned. I need to get better on that. I have found that some of the students responses are not very good. I will model on how a KWL should look like, and show the KWL examples from the book.
Although I have used many of these tools previously, I don’t think I have used any for pre-assessment with any kind of consistency. On page 52, the mind map strategy really stands out to me as being very meaningful, easy to implement and evaluate to set a course on differentiation of an upcoming unit. I think it would be easy to pop in a mind map topic as a warm-up or after a closure to a lesson that ends earlier than the bell. I am a visual learner so I could evaluate quickly to the level of knowledge and understanding on a concept coming up after the current unit. That would allow for more effective planning and reach the objective of continuous progress of learning for all students regardless how they achieved the goal. In response to scrump on June 22nd, I also like the five most difficult questions, and I think it could easily be utilized in a math class.In response to a mitch on June 23rd, I agree with you. Just as we vary components in our lessons to keep interest, variance in pre-assessment will be necessary as well.
To be perfectly honest, as an elementary music teacher, I truly have not used pre-assessment strategies very much in my classroom. I can see how I can implement them with an intermediate grade level to start out with. The K-W-L Chart could be used before a composer unit or a unit of study dealing with musical styles.
In response to KHarrell:I admire you for taking the strategies directly into summer school. It just goes to show preassessment is equally important for all students.
A strategy that I have not tried but plan to is the Five Most Difficult Questionsn (pg 53) which I will most likely create by looking the the specific learning objectives for that unit and the district plans. For example, in each 9 weeks science unit, questions that students should be able to answer by the end of the unit are already provided and I can use those to frame the creation of my "Five Most Difficult Questions." I forsee that this method of preassessment will be easiet to implement in math and science do to the subject matter so that is where I plan to start until I become more comfortable with the method.In response to rallen, I agree with him about the open ended questions. I teach 3rd grade and feel like many students at this age struggle to answer open ended questions at a depth that truly reveals their knowledge. In particular, I have found that my male GT students struggle to get the thoughts in their head down on paper and if I do use open ended questions, I would have to do them in an interview format.
The five most difficult questions (pg 53) seems like a really good technique to try with my students. I really like the idea of preassessment. Although for a new teacher it seems daunting. I have made a personal goal of to use preassessment this upcoming year. I think that the questions will work well for science. I have also decided to preassess using vocabulary, since it is so difficult for native English speakers.
In response to A. Mitch - I like the idea of working backwards and starting with the end in mind. I agree that it is a new way to look at the entire process of learning for the students.
There were lots of great ideas for preassessment in this chapter. On page 49 “interest inventories” was mentioned again, and I do plan to do one of those at the beginning of the year. I also liked the KWL with a twist on page 51. I have used the KWL at the beginning of science units before, but I will change the L to how do you want to learn about this topic. That will tie right into giving me more information about each individual child. I can already see the connection with science and social studies for the five most difficult questions. I have used that preassessment before in math, and it worked well. On page 59, the author reminds us “The preassessment itself ---as long as it can be recorded – is totally secondary to what you do with it. You must use those results in teaching the unit. What can I do for them so they can make continuous progress and extend their learning?” I also know that with some kids I will need to change the preassessment because anything that is overused becomes boring to some kids. Again, the fit with each child is important. I had some students this year that the open ended would have totally shut them down, and I would have received inaccurate information. They just would not have written down everything that they knew. I do love all the examples that are provided in this book!