As teachers we sometimes feel we are drowning in data- assessing, gathering data, reporting data, etc. This year for the first time I am using a different kind of data. This year a group of us at my school are piloting the Teachers College Units of Study in Reading and Writing. Initially, we were just going to use two units each of reading and writing, but a few of us have loved the change so much that we have gone all in. While any change means additional work what I saw made so much sense to me that I knew it was going to make a difference for my students. As it is a pilot year I was encouraged, but not required, to use the various components- again I went all in. The one thing that intrigued me was the pre and post assessments for reading. I (of course) had used reading assessments in the past, but never unit specific assessments. I don’t know why it had never occurred to me to do this- after all, it is common practice in other areas. As the year progressed I have given both the pre and post assessments for each unit and assessed it myself in addition to having the students self-assess and use the information for goal setting. We are finishing up our third unit (character studies) and I gave the post assessment on Friday. This afternoon I spent some time looking the work over and comparing it to the pre-assessments and I am amazed at the differences from the pre-assessment work. Seeing these third graders rise to the challenge is so inspiring. When the EAL
We are finishing up our third unit (character studies) and I gave the post assessment on Friday. This afternoon I spent some time looking the work over and comparing it to the pre-assessments and I am amazed at the differences from the pre-assessment work. Seeing these third graders rise to the challenge is so inspiring. When the EAL coteacher and I looked over the initial data for the unit we agreed that, at least in most cases, we were going to be starting from ground zero with these standards. This is the first year that these students are being exposed to Common Core standards and the first year that they are working with the Units of Study. Looking at the end results makes me even a bigger fan of the Units of Study and what they can do for students. To make this point even stronger 2/3 of my class speak a language other than English at home. To be fair, I have to give lots of the credit to the students- it is an incredibly hard working group and they work hard to achieve their goals. It has been so powerful to have them share common language about their goals and what they were doing to achieve them. I truly believe that the Units of Study have hastened their learning trajectory. I look forward to continuing to work with these units and refine my work with them, but wow, I am definitely feeling like even in year one I have improved my literacy teaching. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?!