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Assessment and Evaluation of Content Literacy For Grades K-6 (Part 2)

BY: Timothy G. Weih | Category: Education | Submitted: 2015-09-14 08:09:34
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Article Summary: "This is part two of a two part article intended to familiarize the beginning teacher with how to plan and implement content literacy assessment and evaluation for grades K-6..."


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Timothy G. Weih, Ph.D.
University of Northern Iowa, USA
September 2015


Background

This is the second part of a two part article intended to familiarize the beginning teacher with how to plan and implement content literacy assessments and evaluations. It is not the aim of this article to train beginning teachers how to follow a teaching manual or textbook, but instead, to give them the background and tools to think, create, develop, and design their own literacy-based assessments and evaluations. The following subsections are a continuation of explanation and description for creating custom made, content literacy assessments.

Content Literacy Assessments for Students' Writing: A Teacher's Perspective

Many beginning teachers find assessing elementary children's writing to be a very daunting task. Some of the problems could be in thinking that "all" the writing they do needs to be assessed, and assessed for all of the three areas, i.e., mechanics, expression of ideas, and organization; which for adults is fine, but for children, it is inappropriate. Children write like children, not adults. Children are also more sensitive about their writing behavior than they are about their reading behavior, because writing is more personally revealing, it is like a window into their deepest thoughts. With this information in mind, in order for teachers to assess students' writing, the three areas being assess need to be done with separate work samples of students' writing (one written for each area being assessed), and students need to be informed that they are writing for the sake of being assessed, so that they know this is the purpose.

Content Literacy Assessments for Students' Writing: Assessing Student Writing Mechanics

To assess students' writing mechanics, teachers type passages from the content literacy materials they plan to teach, save them as they are on their computers, and then retype them again with mistakes in mechanics that they have created. Next, teachers display the passages with mistakes (using one at time for each assessment period) on the classroom screen, and then have students first copy it as it is on their papers, and then make a new copy with their corrections. The students should do this on their own without any help. The teacher needs to count the possible number of mistakes and tell students how many there are to correct. When students are done, the teacher collects the papers, and then shows students the correct copy of the passage and discusses the mistakes together as a class. Finally, the students copy the correct version of the passage into a learning log or notebook that they can later refer to for models of writing mechanics. Teachers analyze student work samples and create evaluative notes regarding the specific difficulties students are demonstrating and use this information for developing instruction focused on supporting students' writing mechanics.


Content Literacy Assessments for Students' Writing: Assessing Students' Expression of Ideas

For the sake of assessing student's writing for their expression of ideas, teachers begin by typing passages from the content literacy materials that they plan to teach, save them as they are on their computers, and then retype them again with mistakes in expression of ideas that they have created. Next, teachers display the passages with mistakes (using one at time for each assessment period) on the classroom screen, and then have students first copy it as it is on their papers, and then make a new copy with their corrections. The students should do this on their own without any help. The teacher needs to count the possible number of mistakes and tell students how many there are to correct. When students are done, the teacher collects the papers, and then shows students the correct copy of the passage and discusses the mistakes together as a class. Finally, the students copy the correct version of the passage into a learning log that they can later refer to for models of writing expression of ideas. Teachers analyze student work samples and create evaluative notes regarding the specific difficulties students are demonstrating and use this information for developing instruction focused on supporting students' expressions of their ideas in their writing.

Content Literacy Assessments for Students' Writing: Assessing Students' Organization

In order to assess students' writing organization, teachers first type passages from the content literacy materials that they plan to teach, save them as they are on their computer, and then retype them again with mistakes in organization that they have created. Next, teachers display the passages with mistakes (using one at time for each assessment period) on the classroom screen, and have students first copy it as it is on their papers, and then make a new copy with their corrections. The students should do this on their own without any help. The teacher needs to count the possible number of mistakes and tell students how many there are to correct. When students are done, the teacher collects the papers, and then shows students the correct copy of the passage and discusses the mistakes together as a class. Finally, the students copy the correct version of the passage into a learning log that they can later refer to for models of writing organization. Teachers analyze student work samples and create evaluative notes regarding the specific difficulties students are demonstrating and use this information for developing instruction focused on supporting students' organizational content of their writing.

Information for Instruction

Teachers make use of their evaluation information of student assessment work samples to make changes, modifications, revisions, and adaptations in their content literacy curriculum and instruction for the purpose of maximizing their students' success. Teachers act as the filters, the interpreters, and the mentors for their elementary students in regards to all the information that they expose them to. When students are not doing well or not performing well in the assessment work samples, teachers examine their "own" practice and behavior to see where "they" can make changes instead of blaming the students. Effective teachers constantly make revisions in curriculum, instruction, and assessments to insure that they are giving their students everything they need for the sake of preparing them to demonstrate their best abilities.

Feedback

Feedback is when teachers inform their elementary students about how they are performing in demonstrating the curriculum objectives as acquired skills within their assessment work samples. Feedback can take two forms, quantitative, meaning a numerical score, percentage, or letter grade; or qualitative, meaning the use of descriptive words for the sake of guiding or mentoring students towards the desired objective and resulting skill development. It is best to combine the two whenever possible to offer students the most useful feedback.

Record Keeping

Teachers need to be extremely organized and diligent when it comes to keeping assessment records for their elementary students. The records are kept in strict confidence.

Conferencing with Parents


Teachers ought to have student assessment work samples from each content area that they teach to show to the parents their student's strengths and weaknesses. Teachers need to allow parents enough time to ask questions and voice any concerns during the conference. It is crucial that teachers not "complain" about the student's academic performance or personal behavior, but instead, explain observations. Furthermore, teachers must not say "never" about anything regarding the child. Children are growing, developing, and changing. What teachers observe presently about the child is bound to change in the coming years. It is vital that teaches say everything in a positive light with an attitude of love and caring for the student. It is important to not say: "I have concerns." This phrase sets a very negative tone, and puts parents on the defensive. Additionally, parents do not appreciate parenting advice coming from the teacher. This could make parents feel that they are inadequate and that their child is somehow deficient because of them. Again, this puts parents on the defensive, and teachers want parents to experience success with their child. Every child must experience success in school at multiple levels, and in addition, that parents also see their child as being successful in school. Finally, time is a critical factor during parent-teacher conferences, especially if they are scheduled back-to-back. Teachers can take a leading role in time management by sitting facing a clock, and by positioning themselves closest the classroom door. When the conference is almost over, teachers can give parents a time warning, and then when the conference concludes, say that we have to end now, and get up and move to the door. The parents will usually follow.

Conclusion


There are hundreds of commercial, prepackaged assessments available for teachers to purchase; however, these assessments frequently do not align with the content literacy curriculum and instruction happening in the elementary classroom, therefore, they become inappropriate for the students, and useless for the teacher. The assessments come with manuals and teachers can read and learn those either on their own, or the school will inservice them on the administration, if that is required. In contrast to commercialized assessments, the aim of this article was to give beginning teachers the background and content knowledge so that they can think for themselves in creating, developing, and designing their "own" content literacy assessments for their elementary students. Educated teachers know best how to develop assessments that are intended to support students in their learning. These custom made assessments have the most potential to inform a teacher's practice through knowledgeable evaluation, and it is the students who will benefit the most from this reflective process.

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