Saturday, July 21, 2012

Finding Time to Test

This could be the question of the century.  How do I find time to test my students on a weekly basis on their sight words?  Well, I snatch time wherever I can find it.  Sounds simple enough but it isn't.  And yes, even I might sometimes not get to all the students I want.  But to have your students be successful the most important thing you can do is...MAKE TIME.  Nothing is worse than having a student so close to wanting to pass the list they are on only to be put off because you don't have time for assessment.  Eventually that little guy is going to throw in the towel.  If you don't care, why should he?  It may not be true but for a 6 year-old, it's all about perception.

So, back to the topic of this post.

One year I was super fortunate to have an "extra" computer time in the non-teaching computer lab.  What this meant is that I would start the kiddos on an educational website and once they were going, I could pull kids back to a table and test away.  Voila.  A built-in time for weekly assessing.

Of course things in education change quite quickly.  And then revert back just as quickly (but that's another blog post).  So when I lost being able to have this extra lab time I was faced with finding time in each day.  Literacy stations are a wonderful time for assessment.  I pull students for reading groups during my stations.  Once a week, or sometimes every other week depending on how much time I have for groups, I would test the students sitting with me for group before we got down to other business.  After you've had a few assessments under your belt you might only need 5 minutes or less per student.

My favorite way to find assessment time is to enlist volunteers.  Occasionally I have been fortunate to have student interns that could pull and assess students for me.  I dislike using parents for these jobs.  Especially if the parent likes to see where their student compares to the class.

But mostly I just do my best to pull students throughout the day.  Did they finish snack early?  Grab them to test.  During report card time I can be found with my assessment materials outside the classroom just in case I can snag sometime to test.  Heck, I've even done testing on class restroom breaks!  First one in can be tested while we wait on the rest of the class.

I am a true believer that the quicker a student learns sight words, the easier reading will be for them.  Then we can concentrate on the fun stuff like comprehension techniques and making connections.  Just remember that sight word testing should not take over as your only strategy for reading practice.  Kill and drill will not go very far in building avid readers.

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