My Bright Idea: A Tool to Help Students and Teachers

bright_idea_1Earlier this summer, I got an idea for a tool to implement this school year. After some brainstorming, I have decided to proceed and use this for my students.

Every student will have a DATA Binder where all their standardized and formative assessments, attendance, and behavior information will be kept. The binder will remain at school, but the students are responsible for keeping it updated with my help of course. Much of the standardized test information is specific to my school district, but many districts track the same data. DATA is an acronym for  “Diagnostic and Academic Tracking Advisor.” Following is the tentative list of contents:

Standardized Test Scores:

The major standardized test in my state is the Criterion Referenced Competency Test (CRCT). This test is being fazed out  and will be replaced by the PARCC assessments that are aligned to the Common Core. Additionally, my school district requires that students take benchmark tests to assess their knowledge and acquisition of the content. These tests are given in a pre, mid-year, and post test format for each subject. The DATA binder will house this information for the students.

*CRCT results for the year prior and end of year

*Benchmark tests (for each subject)

*Self-Assessment Letter (The students will write this letter to share how they think they are doing in the content areas. Note this letter is under each heading.)

Reading:

Our district uses the Fountas and Pinnell (F&P) reading program where students’ reading levels are categorized on an alphabet scale. We assess students using this program and group them accordingly. I require that students read books within a wide range of genres and that they read every night. They must track their daily reading on a reading log. Our school uses the Accelerated Reader (AR) program where students take quizzes on books they’ve read and earn points. I require that students write responses to the books they are reading. In the DATA binder, I will keep a record of their F &P levels, monthly reading log, a reading response per quarter, and their AR points.

*F&P levels

*Reading Logs (monthly)

* Three reading responses

*AR points

*Self-Assessment Letter

Writing:

Students are given writing assessments throughout the year that are graded according to a rubric. I will also include a grammar, cursive handwriting, and word study information. I haven’t decided what I will use for those yet.

*Writing assessments with scores & Rubric

*Word Study

*Grammar

*Cursive

*Self-Assessment Letter

Mathematics:

In our district, we have a program to test computational fluency called the Big 20. Each month, students receive 20 computations to complete in 20 minutes. The computations get progressively harder as the students acquire more skills. Students chart their growth in accuracy from August to May. Each Monday, students receive an Exemplar, which is a math problem. They are graded on how well they explain the process they used to ascertain the solution. The right answer is not as important at their explanation and demonstration of mathematical reasoning. Students are categorized by ability levels, novice, apprentice, practitioner, and expert. Lastly, I will use fact fluency centers to help student work on mastering their multiplication facts. Students should have mastered all their multiplication math facts by the end of 3rd grade, but this is seldom the case.

*Big 20 assessments and graphs

*Exemplars assessments

*Fact Fluency graph

*Self-Assessment letter

Social Studies

Fourth grade is the only grade level where students have to pass all content areas on the CRCT in order to pass to the next grade. Unfortunately, social studies and science often get neglected in the time squeeze of the school day. It is important to integrate social studies and science content within math, writing, and reading. To master social studies, students need to see the big picture and not get bogged down with the totality of information. If they can understand the cause and effect, connections, and big themes of history, they will have a framework or skeleton upon which to hang the details. For each curricular section, I will have the students complete a pre and post test, the results of which will go in the binder. At the end of the year, I will have them reconstruct all that we have learned through words and pictures. I believe it is possible for them to reconstruct their knowledge since they have made the connections all year.

*Content summary graphic organizer (for each curricular unit)

*Reconstruction graphic organizer (end of year)

*Self-Assessment letter

Science

For each curricular section, I will have the students complete a pre and post test, the results of which will go in the binder. At the end of the year, I will have them reconstruct all that we have learned through words and pictures. I believe it is possible for them to reconstruct their knowledge since they have made the connections all year. We will complete an experiment for each unit. I will have them include a sheet that they generate where they list the objective, steps, and findings.

*Content summary graphic organizer (for each curricular unit)

*Reconstruction graphic organizer (end of year)

*Experiments

*Self-Assessment letter

Attendance

Attendance is very important for student learning. I will keep a tally of daily attendance on a one page grid. Student’s can calculate their attendance as a fraction.

*Attendance grid

*Self-Assessment letter

Behavior

Behavior is important for student learning. In this section I will keep copies of the student’s daily behavior using my own behavioral system. Any behavior forms or administrative referrals will be housed here.

*Daily behavior (grid with 180 boxes)

*Any behavior forms or administrative referrals

*Self-Assessment letter

***

In addition to the above, I will add a table of contents, cover sheet, and the tabbed dividers. I will also create the documents for each of the items listed. Again, the self-assessment letter is an important aspect of this binder. It it gives the student the opportunity to reflect on their progress.  My rationale for this is based on my experiences the last two years I’ve taught and my own personal anecdotal research. Students at the elementary level rarely have a clue about how they are progressing in school. When they receive their report cards, they don’t equate their day to day progress with the grade they’ve received. When I have conferenced with my students to discuss  their progress, they take more ownership and rise to a higher expectation of content mastery. The diagnostic aspect of the binder helps me to cast their weak areas as opportunities for growth that needs a prescription, much like when we go to the doctor due to an ailment or well check-up.  This binder will also serve as a formative assessment tool I can use to modify my instruction when necessary. It also serves to provide the documentation I need when I am evaluated.

This will be my first year implementing the DATA binder. As I get it up and running, I’ll post pictures, the various documents, and let you know how it is working.

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4 thoughts on “My Bright Idea: A Tool to Help Students and Teachers

    1. Hi! Scroll down to the “follow me via e-mail” section and click follow. I’ll be posting the documents soon.

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