This is a professional development blog. We'll be discussing books we read as a group. Our discussions will be focused on gifted children.
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. Amitch
Honestly, I really haven't used a lot of written pre-assessments in the past. I usually just do a general pre-assessment by observing the students' responses to questions given orally. After reading this chapter I realize the importance of keeping written records of pre-assessments to review and defend my differentiation strategies. So really I have not used any of them like I should.One that really struck me however, is the K-W-L chart which I've used in a whole-class setting. I never thought about giving this type of pre-assessment to students individually. I will definitely use this next year to start any unit of study I feel would be appropriate. I'm thinking I will have my students share their responses with me on a Google Doc to save paper and file-cabinet space.
In response to Ms. Gio, I agree about having pre- assessments. Last year with the DRA2 we had to do Focus for Instruction which is like a pre- assessment. Teachers kept it close at hand when making tailored instruction and lessons for our guided reading groups. At first, I thought it was additional "thing" I had to do for the DRA2 but I realized how important it was to help me plan for my students' needs. A Mitch
I haven't tried "The Five Most Difficult Questions" strategy, but I definitely plan on trying it this coming school year. What a simple (but brilliant) idea! I can already imagine using this strategy. I agree that pre-assessment would save a lot of time. I have used K-W-L charts before, but I did "What I KNOW, What I WANT to know, and What I LEARNED." It was more of a before, during, after strategy. However, I really like the question in the book, "How do you want to LEARN about this topic?" I like that this will allow them choice, and it will get the students to think about their own thinking. Hopefully, this will increase student motivation.
Ms. Gio, what a great idea about using Google Docs! I'm with you. I've used K-W-L mostly in a whole-class setting. Love getting all these new ideas!
Oops! Forgot my page #. The Five Most Difficult Questions strategy is on page 53.A Mitch, I like the way you put it: "Using this strategy is like working backwards. I will start with the end in mind." I think most of us try to start with the end in mind when we're planning a unit, but it seems like this strategy will force us to do just that. Those difficult questions can be the guiding questions that students work to discover/answer.
I have used the KWL chart many times, but the L column has always been reserved for what they learn during the lesson. I have never used it for the students to tell me how they want to learn. I will definitely try this new twist (P.50-52).
I agree with a mitch that the 5 most difficult questions would be a good way of working backwards. I would like to challenge my students to answer those questions before teaching a lesson or concept.
I have never used an end-of-the unit assessment as a pre-assessment. I think it would be a great strategy to use to see what background knowledge all of the students in the class have on that unit. I would like to try to implement this strategy at least by the second nine weeks this year for science and social studies. I think it will also help me plan my teaching better also. I like that the book said that it was okay to use the same assessment, and not create an entirely different assessment.
a mitch, I agree that the five most difficult questions is a great strategy. Not only does it help you know everyone's background knowledge on the subject, it also has the higher level thinking and higher expectations of your students. I am considering using it also to make sure I am setting my expectations high enough for all of my students.
Utilizing pre-assessment methods are essential in pinpointing a child’s knowledge level, and interest, and needs. The methods discussed in this Chapter 4 are excellent. I think I would like to implement the KWL Chart (page 50) more frequently as a quick pre-assessment before a particular lesson. If I were to give an example, such as teaching Newton’s Laws of Motion, I would like to see what the student knows or understands on the concept of each one of the laws. I would be able to pre-assess their experience in observing these laws in their daily lives yet not knowing it was actually physics in action. Based on this pre-assessment strategy, I could know what I could do for each of my students that will make them experience continuous progress and extend their learning.
The strategy that most intrigues me is the 5 most difficult questions (p.43). I have never thought to really question the higher learners using this strategy. What a wonderful way to really get the students thinking on a higher level tan to have them answer 5 questions that challenge their thinking. I think that I could use this when teaching US history. Some students have a love for history and know so much, having them answer 5 questions to see if they truly know the content, and if they have them read further about the content, more in depth and then let them share with the class. Science is another subject area that you could use this strategy with and have some really incredible results from the higher learners.
In response to Mitch... I feel the same way about the 5 questions, what a great way to find out what your students already know and as a teacher then you can work backwards like you stated. Won't it be interesting to see what our students really know about a subject before we start.
In response to illgl... I too have only used the 3rd column for they have learned, not how they want to learn. I think this will really open our eyes to how our students like to learn and how they learn best.
I had always thought of KWL Charts (p 50) as being a primarily an elementary school tool. However, while reading Chapter 4, I realized they are ideal for introducing topics. A lot of what students think they know about physics is incorrect and spend class time questioning the students and discussing those errors. The KWL Chart can help me pinpoint where each student is starting.
Differentiation is not just throwing out different things for students to do at random. You absolutely must fit the content, process, and product to the child’s individual needs! If you do not do pre-assessment, then what are you basing the different assignments on? I’ve seen this happen time and again where a teacher thinks they are differentiating but instead she thought of various things to do with a topic and assigned them “willy-nillie” to the students. These assignments were not based on the child’s pre-assessed needs or interests. Wrong! As teachers, we do the time or commit a crime! Take the time and the responsibility to pre-assess and then plan the activity that “fits” for that child! The Situational Leadership Model described on page 56 is one pre-assessment method I could try. I would implement the TS 1 – TS 4 teaching strategies to pre-assess the students’ previous knowledge of the physics of force and motion. I would match the teaching strategies with the 4 Readiness Levels (page 58). This would happen in the beginning of the year when physics principles are taught and all other units are based on these principles learned.
I agree with Theo’s contention that some teachers have a misunderstanding of differentiation and do not legitimately meet the needs of every student in their class. It does take time, and I understand that the regular classroom teacher has her hands full. In a teaming situation with GT students, we are afforded the wonderful opportunity to really diversify with our kids who have so many different strengths and interests.
Re kimberlym; I have used the end-of-unit assessments as pre-assessments and it worked great at first. I don’t know how far your pre-assessments are from your end-of-units, but mine tend to be only about 2 weeks so they can still remember it. The first time they see the test, they are shocked and someone asks, ’Didn’t we do this already?’ They are encouraged to take the pre-assessments seriously. However, I have found my more (or is it less) motivated students soon attempt to memorize the pre-assessment and try to learn nothing else!I even had one student tell me that a certain topic was not on the PreTest – so why are we doing it! So, I have to be careful about using the Pre=Post assessment too often. By mixing different written pre-assessment they never get too comfortable.
RE: Everyone:I don’t mean to throw in another question, but: How do you get the students to take pre-assessments seriously? I teach high school, but I assume everyone has the same problem. If I don’t grade it, they will turn in a blank paper! Last year, I gave my AP class pre-assessments for the first semester. After the first few, they: 1) Took as much time as I allowed (wasting class time)2) Gave random answers that did not have any meaning.But, I don’t like the idea of grading a Pre-Assessment – since I haven’t covered any of the material. Giving them a completion grade does not seem to help at my level, either. Any ideas out there? Am I alone or does anyone else have this problem?
Preassessment is essential for guiding instruction. I am interested in implementing the Situational Leadership Model p. 56. Adjusting teaching styles to meet student competencies is necessary for continuous learning to occur. I am interested in finding successful ways to match student abilities with other student abilities within the classroom. The potential for various leadership styles in students to develop is as important as providing support to learners in need of more directives and independent experiences.
In response to "weedin"(June 12-9:45 pm), Kudos! to Ms. Gio for "going green." Great idea about using Google Docs and other technological tools to motivate and and provide a "preassessment that makes differentiation strategies defensible" p. 46.)
In response to "tjensen" (June 16-2:13 pm), grading preassessment problem. Would it be beneficial to have students complete your preassessment for grading by using a rubric? Perhaps, use classtime and have students work together to "organically" create a rubric for quality responses. Just a thought. Student "buy in" is always a challenge. I am certain you have tried a "zillion" strategies already. Huh?
I haven't used the KWL chart (p. 50) for math. I have used it for other subjects, but never math and since that is now my focus subject, I'm interested in seeing how it will work for math. I do like the title for the "L"- how do you want to learn about this topic? I will definitely utilize this tool at the beginning of a unit to assess what the students already know and to see how they will take the initiative to learn more about the specific topic.
In response to tjensen on June 16th: Even in elementary school, some students have a hard time taking the pre-assessments seriously and some take them too serioulsy. I tell them that I grade them so that I can determine what specific areas of content they can "opt out" on and what areas they need to participate in. I also tell them that the grade is not recorded but it's used to help me with their learning. After the end of unit assessment, I let them compare the 2 grades. Time is of course an issue. Depending on the group of students, I "offer" the pre-assessment before school so that those who want to show what they already know or for those who want a taste of what's coming up can come and it's their choice, again, letting them take more ownership of their instruction/learning.
In response to kimberlym on June 14th: using an end-of-the unit assessment as a pre-assessment is a great tool to guide your instruction. This is also an example of where record keeping is important. Since your end assessment should hit multiple objectives, you can track which students already have specific objectives mastered so that you know which students need to participate in lessons for that specific obj and no one feels like their time is being wasted.
I have used K-W-L charts, but I had the students write what they learned not HOW they wanted to learn it. I look forward to trying that.I have used different graphic organizers, but not a mind map. I think this would be a great way to preassess and have the students add things as a unit progresses.I found the Situation Leadership model interesting as it seems to differentiate the gradual release model. I am working on not being the great leader in front of the room. This is an ongoing process and I will work on identifying the different levels of readiness to plan different learning opportunities in the classroom.I hope to use all these strategies next year, but will have to decide which to use with which unit as school progresses. I can see how all of them could be adapted and used with the different subjects and how some may seem easier with a particular subject.
In response to tjensen, maybe they would take it more seriously if they got to see the difference in projects students would do if they already have the knowledge. Showing them that they could make a really cool movie or web page (or whatever might excite them) might motivate them to show what they really know.
I agree with kimberly m about how it would be really useful to use an end-of-unit assessment as a pre-assessment. That would help to keep the focus on what exactly the students will be responsible for learning.
In response to tjensen, thank you for your remarks on problems you've encountered in using the same assessment before and at the end of the unit. That's extremely helpful to know that you should mix it up and not use the same method each time. Learning from others' experience is what true collaboration is all about!
Chapter 4 gave me alot to think about in terms of preassessment. I have used K-W-L charts in my classroom before, but never as a preassessment. I think I will definately try and use those next year in my classroom. I love the K-W-L chart becuase you could use it in all subject areas. I also really saw the importance of the record keeping aspect of preassessments and how these could be used to help answer any parent questions about why students are completing different things.
Like NLopez on June 16th, I had used K-W-L, but I had always used the L for what did you learn and not how do you want to learn. I will plan to make this change in the future. It seems to make more sense and allows the student more responsibility for their learning. I was intrigued with the Five Most Difficult Questions. It is close to the End-of-the-Unit type of assessment but it doesn’t give all of the questions. I only use the End of the Unit type of assessment once or twice to try and prevent my students from becoming dependent on particular types of assessments and preassessments. I am interested in the Situational Leadership Model, as I think it would work well when we are doing projects. But I really didn’t understand how to preassess the student. This strategy seems to be more to identify motivation and learning styles of the learner, such as wanting to be independent and eager to research, as opposed to the student what may be more timid and need more guidance and support.
The strategy that I have not used specifically for differentiation is the "Situational Leadership Model." When I read about the four teaching styles my first thought was that as an elementary teacher I support all my students using these strategies on a daily basis. I now think I tend to give more support then needed in TS1 and TS2. For differentiation to occur I need to continually preassess dependent learners and actively move the students from the teacher being high directive to low.
In response to wattb on June 18th I believe this strategy expects teachers to know the learning styles of their students beforehand. Once you know how your students learn then you decide which model they fit in to. This is one of the reasons I find the model hard to work with.
I like that the authors continually stress that ongoing assessment is critical to informing classroom practice. This is stated on page 46 in chapter 4. It is also important that teachers have an assessment binder that contains data on each of their students. I liked the section on record keeping on page 47.I have used KWL charts in the past but have not used the L section as it was stated on page 50. This is one strategy that I will use early in the year. I also want to use the interest inventory for social studies. I liked the model on page 57 in chapter 4.
In response to A Mitch who posted on June 12, 2011 at 6:15 pm. I could not agree more about the DRA2 focus for instruction page. It is a great tool to help you plan what your students' learning. I am so glad you mentioned this in your comments. :)
In response to NLopez on June 16th and others-- the use of the “L” column in the KWL strategy as how the student wants to learn about the topic rather than what the student learned is a nice preassessment twist on the KWL charts that many teachers currently use.
I would like to try “The Five Most Difficult Questions” preassessment strategy described on pages 53-54. This strategy which encourages those students who “want to demonstrate what they know, understand, and are able to do can earn the opportunity to continue learning at appropriately challenging levels”. This will ensure definitive planning for the end of the unit. If students know the subject matter they can then participate in a challenging/in depth experience about the content so that they make continuous progress.I was pleased to see that the authors mentioned the use of a variety of ways to preassess students-- This enables us to use the information to drive our instruction.
In response to sermonsl on June 20th and AMitch--The DRA2 Focus for Instruction page is one that after use, many teachers found helpful because it determined some areas for small group instruction that were particular to individual students. I see it as another tool to help us get to know the needs of our students. It can be used in conjunction with other strategies such as those described in our book study.
KWL charts are something I have used in the past, but they really are a tool to keep your students thinking. It allows you to know what they already know, and how you should approach this next unit. I used these when I was in school and people are still using them today. They must really work! (pg. 50)
In response to Ms. Gio:I also have just used pre-assessment with classroom conversations. We can learn a lot about what our kids know and want to learn while speaking about the topic. I'm on board with you about bringing in the KWL charts next year.
In response to a mitch:We say this so much but I really need to implement it when starting a unit: Start with the end in mind and work backwards. It sound like a simple concept but you can get swept up and forget that is our end goal. Great thinking!
Definately, this chapter gives many ideas for preassessment and there are some I have used like the KWL, end of unit assessments and mind maps. The ones I have not used are five most difficul questions, the adapted Situational Leadership model and open ended questions. This makes me think of how important it is to have a variety of preassessment tools to start investigating what our students bring with them to the classroom. I have seen the great value of maintain anecdotal records and snip its of what I observe in the classroom because once you start noticing what the students can do or are struggling with it facilitates for the teacher to modify the instruction.In response to Mitch I can see why the Focus for Insstruction page could have been seen as one more thing to do during the DRA2 assessments and I can assure you that you are not the only one who thought that in the beginning. Once my teachers had an opportunity to use it and could observe this would benefit their students their thinking began to see it in a different light. Defintately it is good to have preassessment but knowing how to analyze the results is another key component for successful differentiation.
In response to Ms. Gio, I am glad to see how you are planning to incorporate technology by using the google docs, I think this is a great idea because all students will be engaged and the ones who are shy will have an opportunity to express their knowledge too.
I have used K-W-L charts in the past, but we have filled them out as a whole class. This doesn't really help me differentiate for individual students. I like the idea of giving the students the charts to fill out individually like they did in the book. Now that I am moving from 3rd to 1st grade the students won't really be able to do that! I also like using the end of the unit test as a pre-assessment. That is certainly something I would like to try this year. On page 47 it said that preassessment documents our need for differentiation - which makes perfect sense. In the past I've used reading and benchmark scores to form groups and these preassessments would give me more specific information.
Well said, Ms. Petrich on June 16. As the book mentioned, the goal of adapting your teaching style is to help develop lifelong learners who are responsible for their own learning. I think that is every educators goal. I know it's one of mine!
I, like many others in this group, have never tried "The Five Most Difficult Questions" (p.53), but will use it this coming year, starting at the beginning of the year. I particularly like this pre-assessement because it not only serves to see what my students already know, but also does "double duty" by letting them see where we are heading. This is especially effective when it comes to goal setting.
In answer to tjensen's question on preassessment and the students not taking it seriously, I have had the same situation occur, particularly with my GT students (shocker, right? :)). I've found that, while it isn't a 100% cure all, a reminder that the purpose of the preassessment is to help me determine, as the teacher, where each student needs to start. If all of the answers are incorrect, then that would indicate that they need to start at the beginning, so that is where we will start. I am reminded of something that (I think) I head Alana Morris say - that the brain refuses to be bored. In this context, it doesn't take too long before the student is ready to be challenged.
Mrs. Gio (June 9th), I love the idea of using Google Docs to create a class KWL - great use of this collaborative tool! Another to try is www.linoit.com.
As for differerntiating, I have not used any of the strategies offered in chapter 4. I am excited to use all of these strategies to better suit the needs of my students. I have done many KWL charts as a class, but not to assess how to differentiate. I like the five most difficult questions, the open ended type of questions allows students more room to elaborate on their knowledge or lack of understanding. These preassessment activities will be very helpful when beginning new units in all subjects. I want to use the interest surveys to better serve my students and their needs, depending on the children I may have to modify them a bit to give them to my second graders.
In response to amartin on June 19th at 8:03,I agree with you on the "Situational Leadership Model", on page 56 where it says "The goal of adapting situational leadership to teaching is to develop individuals who are responsible for their own learning; only then can they be lifelong learners." This quote sums it up for this strategy. I try to get my second graders to become independent with their learning and how they choose to complete their projects or work. I promote a lot of collaboration amongst peers instead of it being all teacher directed.
In response to theo on June 16th at 6:44, I have tried to dabble in differentiation this past year, as it was new to me. I was a little willy-nilly with it and felt a little all over the place. Reading this book and being a part of these internet conversations has really solidified the need to differentiate for each child, not just the high achievers or GT students. I have a clearer understanding of how to implement differentiation with some direction now, which will definitely benefit ALL of my students this next year. I guess I am wondering now, how are we prepared for the outcomes of the preassessments we do? Do we have activities planned for all levels before each unit or do we constantly add new activities as we go? Just a thought...
I would like to try the individual KWL charts, pg. 50-52. I have done them as a whole class to preasses as a group, but I have never even pondered the thought of individuals completing their own. I really think that gives them a strong buy in into what they are going to learn and gets them more interested in the material.I have used various thinking maps before, but I would like to venture a little deeper with the mind map, as demonstrated on pg 53. I like the way they are set up and allow you to continue adding as you have need to. I also like the way that it shows how all the parts are interconnected.
In reading petrichc's comment about trying to find successful ways to match student abilities and talents with other student abilities and talents within the classroom truly is something that I would like to do better with. I agree that it helps bring out varaious leadership potentials for the children and I also think it helps them to see that it's ok to have more than one way to do things.
In response to weedin, I also think that the 5 Most Difficult questions is an easy, yet brilliant idea. I like how there is a shift from the teacher determining what will be learned into making it more of a team effort. I see the students getting excited as their brains start turning with ideas.
The KWL is a pre-assessment strategy I would like to use in my classroom. I can see this done at the beginning of a topic of study. I see this more as a science/social studies content area but could also see it used in math and LA. I would have each student fill out a KWL either in small groups, partners, or independently depending on the topic of study. Looking at the results will then guide our class for instruction and allow differentiation.
In response to illgl on June 12th at 9:56pm, I saw the KWL in the same way. I would use the L as what they learned and honestly usually forget to go back and complete that section. Which in turn made the KWl lose its importance as a learning tool. I am now excited to use the KWL as a tool for learning and use the L in a more functional and meaningful way to guide instruction.
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I agree with kimberlym when she said that it is important to have high expectations of our students. In order to ensure that each child works at their highest level, differentiation, assessment is essential.