Monday, March 24, 2014

Why is Assessment Important?


   Assessment is important because of all the decisions you will make about children when teaching them. The decisions facing our three teachers all involve how best to educate children. Like them, you will be called upon every day to make decisions before, during, and after your teaching. Whereas some of these decisions will seem small and inconsequential, others will be “high stakes,” influencing the life course of children. All of your assessment decisions taken as a whole will direct and alter children’s learning outcomes.  Below outlines for you some purposes of assessment and how assessment can enhance your teaching and student learning. All of these purposes are important; if you use assessment procedures appropriately, you will help all children learn well.

The following general principles should guide both policies and practices for the assessment of young children:
Assessment should bring about benefits for children. Gathering accurate information from young children is difficult and potentially stressful. Assessments must have a clear benefit—either in direct services to the child or in improved quality of educational programs.
Assessment should be tailored to a specific purpose and should be reliable, valid, and fair for that purpose. Assessments designed for one purpose are not necessarily valid if used for other purposes. In the past, many of the abuses of testing with young children have occurred because of misuse.
Assessment policies should be designed recognizing that reliability and validity of assessments increase with children’s age. The younger the child, the more difficult it is to obtain reliable and valid assessment data. It is particularly difficult to assess children’s cognitive abilities accurately before age six. Because of problems with reliability and validity, some types of assessment should be postponed until children are older, while other types of assessment can be pursued, but only with necessary safeguards.
Assessment should be age appropriate in both content and the method of data collection. Assessments of young children should address the full range of early learning and development, including physical well-being and motor development; social and emotional development; approaches toward learning; language development; and cognition and general knowledge. Methods of assessment should recognize that children need familiar contexts to be able to demonstrate their abilities. Abstract paper-and-pencil tasks may make it especially difficult for young children to show what they know.
Assessment should be linguistically appropriate, recognizing that to some extent all assessments are measures of language. Regardless of whether an assessment is intended to measure early reading skills, knowledge of color names, or learning potential, assessment results are easily confounded by language proficiency, especially for children who come from home backgrounds with limited exposure to English, for whom the assessment would essentially be an assessment of their English proficiency. Each child’s first- and second-language development should be taken into account when determining appropriate assessment methods and in interpreting the meaning of assessment results.
Parents should be a valued source of assessment information, as well as an audience for assessment. Because of the fallibility of direct measures of young children, assessments should include multiple sources of evidence, especially reports from parents and teachers. Assessment results should be shared with parents as part of an ongoing process that involves parents in their child’s education.4

Purposes of Assessment
Identify what children know
Identify children's special needs
Determine appropriate placement
Select appropriate curricula to meet children's individual needs

Ms. Nora Sierra
Early Childhood Coordinator
Kindergarten Teacher
Discovery School


Monday, March 17, 2014

The Power of a Good Preschool Math Program


All preschool math program requirements and schools look to strengthen math instruction for students across the grades. Parents and educators can play an important role in ensuring that practices that have proven to be effective in promoting math learning are in place:
·        Collect baseline information. Know what concepts and skills a child has already learned so that an effective program of instruction and support can be designed and implemented early in the preschool year.
·        Children will need different types of instruction and support. Teachers will want to meet students “where they are” and tailor instruction to build on the individual child’s knowledge and ability.
·        Make math real. Be sure to reinforce and practice math learning throughout the day, in school, at home, and in the community.
·        Learn math by living math. Focus less on passive learning (such as listening to someone explain and demonstrate), and provide lots of hands-on activities. Young children (and older ones too!) learn by doing.
·        Forge parent-teacher partnerships. Many parents aren’t sure how to teach their preschoolers math at home. Use parent-teacher conferences to discuss strategies that have been successful in the classroom and talk about how these can be reinforced in everyday games and activities at home.
Ms. Nora Sierra
Kindergarten Teacher
Early Childhood Coordinator
Discovery School

Monday, March 10, 2014

Author Studies for Early Childhood

1. Help students develop their reading skills
Author studies necessarily require lots of reading, giving kids plenty of opportunities to improve their reading fluency. In addition, teachers can use author studies to individualize reading instruction by grouping students according to their reading levels and helping them choose an appropriate author to study.
2. Build critical thinking skills
With author studies, students learn to compare and contrast themes, analyze text and illustrations, and make connections between an author's life and his/her work and between the author's work and the reader's own life and work.
3. Improve writing skills
An author becomes a "writing mentor" for readers as they read and study his/her work and respond to it through a variety of writing. This "mentoring" and students' writing responses can help kids build confidence in their writing and can even inspire them to become authors themselves.
4. Forge a deeper attachment to books
Kids often bond with "their" author, which makes reading a more personal, fulfilling experience. Kids may even want to read books that influenced their author, further expanding their reading experience.
5. Establish a community of readers
Author studies help classes, and even whole schools, form closer connections through shared reading experiences.

6. Expose kids to different types of literary voices and styles
Like adults, many kids prefer a particular kind of book, such as non-fiction, series fiction, fantasy, etc. An author study can be used to persuade kids to branch out. In addition, some authors, including Newbery Medalists Avi and Lois Lowry, write in a variety of literary genres, which makes it easy for kids who do author studies on them to try out different types of reading.

7. Boost information literacy skills
A key component of author studies is researching an author's life and work, using print and online resources. This research provides a built-in opportunity for teachers to teach information literacy skills, especially how to find information sources and determine if they are credible.
8. Plug in easily to the curriculum
Teachers can do a short or long author studies, depending on available time.
9. Make connections across the curriculum
Choosing a non-fiction author is the easiest way for teachers to connect science, math and/or history units with their language arts teaching. But these connections also can be made using elements of a fiction author's books (i.e., setting in a particular time or place, animal or historic characters).
10. Add fun to the school day!
Author studies are an entertaining way to spark students' life-long interest in reading, a particularly important factor for new readers and reluctant readers.
Ms. Nora Sierra
Early Childhood Coordinator
Discovery School

Sunday, March 2, 2014

               THE DISCOVERY SCHOOL 



At Discovery School we love to read and we want to motivate our students to continue to discover the wonderful world found in books, where just about anything can happen! Through the DS READ-A-THON our Early Childhood and Elementary (Grades K-5) students will be encouraged to read more often in the classroom and at home.
In organizing this READ-A-THON our objective is to help our students re-discover the joy of reading.  A READ-A-THON  is an event that encourages students and their families to read more, try new books, and have fun doing it. Extensive research proves that children who read for pleasure will gain advantages that last their whole lives. Research also demonstrates with overwhelming evidence that literacy has a significant relationship with a person’s happiness and success. Furthermore, the academic benefits of a strong leisure reading habit are not confined to improved reading ability. Leisure reading makes students more articulate, develops higher order reasoning, and promotes critical thinking – all of these skills for lifelong learning skills!
Our READ-A-THON will take place from March 3 to March 31, 2014. Each student will be given a Reading Log sheet and a special bookmark for this event. The goal is for every student to read as many books as he or she can, and keep a record of his or her reading. Once the sheet had been filled out, each student will need to turn it in to their homeroom teacher, and will be given a new one. The student in each class who, at the end of the month, reads more grade level (or above grade level books) will be honored in an assembly, and will be treated to a special lunch outside the school on Friday, April 4.
We ask our parents to support his initiative at home by providing their child with appropriate books for reading. Parents can borrow books from their child’s class library, check out books from our school library, download (free or purchased) books for their e-readers, borrow from a friend…the possibilities are endless! Let’s face it, parents will LOVE seeing their child lost in the world of a “cant-put-it-down” book! Who doesn't want to bring reading back into family time?! 

April 20, 2018

Wrapping Up the School Year The end of the school year brings the expected joy at finishing another year, and perhaps some sadne...