There is and has been an ongoing focus on using student data to drive instruction. This focus has spurred program and textbook developers to integrate assessments throughout tasks/projects, providing teachers with opportunities to determine their students comprehension of a task/concept through pre-, benchmark and post assessments. Ideally, the results aid teachers in determining each student’s level of comprehension and areas of growth. However, despite all of the resources provided, much of it is underutilized. Students are often assessed through programs, schools, state exams or teacher created assessments. Although there are positive outcomes, frequently the results inform teachers that much more work is required. To that end, we must ask ourselves, how can I identify each student’s level of comprehension throughout every lesson.
How do we take notes that convey each students comprehension level and area of need within each lesson? Clearly, addressing student’s needs requires an awareness of what those needs are. I have found that being consistent with utilizing my comprehension and analysis template, among others has supported my ability to assess what each student understands and needs to know. Although things don’t always go according to plan, such tools have proven to be an effective process that enables me to use symbols (that I create) to represent levels of comprehension and provides space for important notes and topics/concepts.
By no means is this concept new, but as we examine student outcomes, it is clear that in many instances, it requires revisiting in order to provide daily data driven instruction and scaffolding. Sometimes we may have the resources, however, they may lack the sufficiency required for proper use. More specifically, some assessments are too long or lack efficiency. When utilizing day-to-day assessments teachers need tools that support gathering concise, immediate student outcomes in written form. These tools can come from the teacher, individual departments, content area teachers, etc. The point is to make it concise and efficient.
There are structures that support gathering data efficiently. Here are a few suggestions:
- Collaborative Groups, Guided Groups
- Self/Peer Evaluations: Rubric Based
- Teacher Created Question Prompts
- Student Questions
When students work in groups it enables teachers to retrieve data from several students in one sitting. Additionally, as students can identify the type of work that meets each level on the rubric, they can utilize the rubric to evaluate their level of comprehension and areas of growth. Of course, this is a process, but it pays huge dividends once the students can apply it, which they generally can. Also, teacher created questions allow for real-time feedback depending on how it’s applied (students share responses and note their challenges). Lastly, students can generate one question based on their challenge or insights (if there are no challenges). Of course students need to understand what constitutes a relevant question.
Students should learn how to evaluate themselves and their peers. They should be clear about what they understand and need to know. The classroom environment that supports independent learning, cultivates thinking. Once students are clear about their areas of growth, they can utilize classroom resources to aid in their comprehension. For example, if a student needs to work on analyzing, we must provide opportunities, strategies and/or processes that aid in the effective application of analyzing. As we put time in up front to create independent learners, we create more time to gather data that drives instruction and enhances student’s learning.