In early childhood classrooms, a large portion of what is taught and assessed are observable skills. In Pre-K and Kindergarten students need to learn how to hold a book, where to start reading and the difference between a letter and a word. Below are a few Common Core Standards for Kindergarten English Language Arts.
Demonstrate understanding of the organization and basic features of print.
Follow words from left to right, top to bottom, and page by page.
Recognize that spoken words are represented in written language by specific sequences of letters.
Understand that words are separated by spaces in print.
These skills are immensely important but can be difficult to assess in a classroom of thirty students. Traditional assessments do not work for students who can’t read or write. This means teachers have to give one on one assessments and take anecdotal notes, a task that can be both daunting and incredibly time consuming.
Recently, I have started using Google Forms to record how students are doing on certain observable Common Core Standards. I created a form, based on the ten standards I am most interested in tracking data on at the current time. Then, anytime throughout the day when I see a student reading, I can open the form and record what I notice. I mark each skill as Mastery, Approaching or Not Yet.
This allows me flexibility to record data on students at various times throughout the day– during reading groups or during independent reading time. I am able to collect data in a way that does not make the task about data collection. Instead of pulling each student one at a time, while the other 28 work independently, in order to have them read to me, I am now able to gather the information during small group instruction.
My favorite part of this process, is the data collection. All of the information is saved into a master spreadsheet that looks like this:
It is easy to look at overall trends– which standards are mostly green for mastery vs which have most students in the yellow approaching or red not yet categories. I can also look at specific students and see who is struggling across the board vs. who is only struggling in one area. This helps me to adjust small group instruction and plan conferences with specific students during independent reading time.
If I am interested in a specific skill, I make a graph of that standard, as seen below.
The next step for me is to continue to collect the data in the master spreadsheet but also have a spreadsheet for each student. This will be great to show trends over time for a specific student on specific skills. I envision making line charts to track their progress on a certain standard and showing this to parents or other teachers and interventionists when we have academic conferences.
I hope to improve my Google Form so that it includes more skills. This will allow me to collect data on students who have mastered most of the Kindergarten standards and are working on more advanced skills.
Additionally, I hope to make the Google Form more of a collaborative effort. My coteacher instructs half of the class during reading groups and our interventionist pulls many of my struggling students to work on these skills in small groups. I would like them to add data to the form so that we have more information to work with and I have a better idea of how my students are doing in the small groups that I do not teach.
I am excited by how much easier it is to collect data on observable skills. I plan on tweaking my forms and data collection practices to make the data even more useful. I would also like to figure out a way to make the data accessible to my students. It is incredibly powerful when a kindergartener is able to talk about what they are learning and goals for growth.