KinderGals: Using Assessments to Form Small Groups

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Monday, March 6, 2017

Using Assessments to Form Small Groups

Is Data Driven Instruction a phrase that makes you twitch? Does it make you think of hours of standardized testing used to rate the effectiveness of your school?  If so, I have some good news for you!  Data Driven Instruction is your friend!  This post shares how to use easy assessments to help you determine what to teach, and to whom!
Small Group Instruction is a part of most classrooms. I use small groups during reader's and writer's workshop and during math and literacy centers.  Anytime my kids are engaged in self directed work that allows them to apply the things that THEY know, I can pull small group. The biggest question I hear is, "how do you determine who is in the small group?" Since I base all of my small groups on assessment, these groups are constantly changing.  The kids are unaware of these groups. I move around the room, while they are working, and collect the kids I want to meet with at my table. 
Recently, while working on number combinations, I made each of my children a necklace.  These necklaces are worn so that the children each know which number combination they are practicing. (And so do I!)
To determine which number combination each child needed to practice, I did this simple assessment, right on my ipad using ESGI.   Here's what I did:
  • Starting with three buttons, some of the buttons are in the open hand and some are hidden in the closed hand.
  • I said, I have ___ buttons in this hand. How many buttons are hidden in the other hand?
  • Repeat with several combinations for the number 3.
  • I want the kids to be accurate (get it right) and automatic (get it quickly).
  • If they are accurate and automatic for 3 buttons, move on to 4 buttons.
  • The great thing about ESGI, is that it will easily move to 4, as you continue the assessment.
  • Once the child is no longer accurate OR automatic, stop the assessment....that is their number.
  • On the child's necklace, use a hole punch to punch out all of the numerals where they were both accurate and automatic with the combinations.
  • The number they will use to build combinations will be the first number NOT punched out on their necklace.
Here's what's cool...if the children are making number towers using unifix cubes, they are doing the SAME activity, but they are each using their own number! This means that some children are using unifix cubes to make towers of  3 while others can be making towers of 4, 5, 6, etc. depending on the number on their necklace!
While the necklaces work well for an easy reference while the kids are working, ESGI will make my small groups for me! The easy bar graph will show me who needs to be in each group! The "green" section tells me who already has mastered the standard, and the "gray" section tells me who has not mastered the standard and who has not been assessed on the standard. Now, I can group all of the kids who need to practice 3 (or any other number) together for my small group activity!
Parents can help us, but who has the time to send weekly parent letters of the things we would like for them to practice at home? ESGI can do that for me, too! Each week, I can easily print out a letter for each child with the things they are still needing to master. This will let the parent know exactly which number their child is working.
But, most parents aren't also teachers. When we send home that parent letter, do the parents really know what it all means or how to help their child?  Again, ESGI to the rescue! I can easily print flash cards for each of the items on the parent letter. This puts something in the parents hand they can use to help their child. 
BUT, my favorite feature of ESGI is that it gives us a baseline of where the child started on each standard.  This allows me to see the growth that each child is making not just where they are! Want to try it for free? You can! Go HERE to get your free trial.  Use to code ADSIT to get 2 months free. This will also save you $40 if you should decide to purchase.

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