PD: Reading and Assessment – Learning Together – empathy and feedback

Yesterday, we met together as a community to begin to study assessment and reading. As is my practice, I also want to share what really happened and the feedback.

As noted in our agenda, we meet twice on Wednesday’s with faculty because of our schedule. At 12:30, we meet with teachers of our 3s and Pre-K children.  At 3:30, we meet with teachers of 1st-6th grade.

Our slide decks used to deliver the overviews of assessment and reading are shared below.

I began with the idea that we focus on learning and asked faculty to do a quick think-pair-share on how we focus on assessment. I asked if, in the think-pair-share, assessment of learning was discussed. I also asked if assessment for learning was discussed.  (Rhetorical questions that caused some head nodding.)  Learners in our care want us to follow their learning, to know where they are, and to help them move to the next level. Can we offer our learners feedback that they can understand and act on to learn and grow? When we offer feedback of learning, do we follow it with feedback for learning? Do we have a feedback system? Can even our summative assessment be used as formative assessment?

I thought my presentation was stronger at 12:30 than at 3:30.  At 12:30, when I asked for a 2nd think-pair-share, it was clear that more learning was needed.  I took the opportunity to model (and discuss) formative assessment.  I adjusted, right then, my instruction to “feed up,” to offer clarity of the goal.  At 3:30, the discussion of formative assessment was stronger, and I did not need to adjust my plan.

Maryellen followed with a photo journal of ways and things we read.  It was awesome! She began with the goal “I want to become a reader” quote posted on a Kindergarten bulletin board.  Every child has this goal.  She highlighted the mystery of the alphabet and the patterns readers need to learn. What happens when the patterns fail as illustrated in the word pseudonym? She took as through an entire series of things that are important to read.  And then, the big whammy! Maryellen read a passage from her iPhone users manual.  While we could read every word, what did we understand? Awesome! The iPhone passage offered instant empathy for young readers.  Just because we can recognize every word, it does not mean we can read. She wrapped up her overview with the following quote:

Reading gives us somewhere to go when we have to stay where we are.  ~Mason Cooley

With these two overviews, faculty divided themselves into study groups and met to begin sharing our common practices.  We want to know about our current reality. What are we doing well? How can we do more of it?

At 12:30, Kathryn Nevin shared a formative assessment technique she used that day.  As kindergarteners arrive for music, they enter the room singing the same song every meeting.  Kathyrn is looking for walking with a steady beat, melody, doing the right thing, self-regulation, and a sense of space and direction.  She realized that these learners might be struggling to understand the expectations. So, on Wednesday, she used her iPad to capture their entrance to music on video. After completing the start of class routine, she played the video for her learners.

How awesome is that? The children naturally took the opportunity for self- and peer-assessment while in Kindergarten! Assessment for learning…even our youngest learners can participate, learn, and grow.

We will continue to grow and learn, together.  I’ve included the entire set of feedback comments at the end of this post, but I want to share a few specific comments.

I gained knowledge in understanding how to use continuous Formative Assessment in teaching EED Science.  It really helped me to realize the differences in Summative  and Formative.  I will strive to use Formative assessment.


I liked the format of today’s session.  Having a whole group explanation of both areas was helpful for a lot of people.
Jill– you did a great job of explaining assessment!  Lots of examples were really helpful to everyone.  I liked the feed up, feed back, feed forward explanation.
Maryellen– your presentation was so inspiring!  It’s wonderful to think of all of the ways we touch our children through reading.


Assessment in Specials classes is different than assessment in the base classroom. Sometimes I struggle with the “how” of assessment in more formal ways since I only see my students once or twice a rotation. I want to continue to work at finding ways to formatively and summatively assess all of my students, across grade levels…in meaningful ways.


I thought it was helpful to discuss different assessment options with other grade levels, reading instruction generally across grade levels, but I think it could have been helpful to incorporate some reading about reading, some study, possibly some kind of writing about reading and the possible article.

As is my practice, I emailed a copy of all of the feedback from this session to all participants.  It is another way to model formative assessment.  Everyone is informed about what everyone else offered as feedback.

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