Helenann Steensen, Fountas & Pinnell Consultant
10 days ago
When using the FPC Phonics, Spelling, and Word Study System, how do you assess students initially before beginning to work with the resources, in order to know what stage/level the students are at?
edited by Kmcj on 4/12/2018
Included in Fountas & Pinnell Phonics, Spelling, and Word Study Lessons are two strands of assessment that will enable you to address several features of effective assessment:
1. Ongoing Observation
An essential part of your teaching role is to observe your children throughout the instructional day and to notice significant behaviors and written products that indicate learning. Sometimes you may want to take observational notes. Each lesson includes an Assess feature that outlines what you might observe related to the lesson topic that can help you determine what children have learned and what instructional steps you might take next. This kind of assessment is an integral part of teaching; it becomes systematic as you work it into your plans and keep ongoing notes and records. It informs teaching on a daily basis.
2. Systematic Assessment Tasks
There is a time to use systematic, planned tasks that are designed to gather information about particular aspects of children’s growing word knowledge. Performance-based assessment may involve observation but represents more formal structured experiences in which the tasks are standardized. Standardization of the procedure creates a reliable assessment situation that is more objective than daily ongoing observation. The goal is to get a picture of what the child can do independently. Usually, you do not actively teach during a performance-based assessment but may make teaching points after the neutral observation.
The Assessment Guide includes more formal, performance-based assessment tasks across the nine areas of learning. You can use these tasks in multiple ways: You can use them as diagnostic tools to determine what children know and need to know; you can use them as monitoring tools to help you keep track of your teaching and children’s learning; and you can also use them as documentation of the teaching and learning you and the children have accomplished. Within both formal and informal assessment contexts, we are always asking two questions: 1) What do children know and control relative to letters, sounds, and words? and 2) What do they need to know?
We do not intend that you use every single assessment task. We present a wide array of tasks with the understanding that you will choose those that address the needs of your students, based on your observations. What’s more, we do not intend that you administer the assessment tasks as “formal tests”; indeed, many can be given “on the run” as you meet with children in guided reading, or at the end of a read-aloud session, or even during a transition time while you are waiting for the bell to ring.
The assessment tasks are formal only in that they offer systematic assessment opportunities beyond your own informed observation. They provide children multiple ways to demonstrate their developing knowledge of letters, sounds, and words. These assessment tasks are not designed for program evaluation or research, but they are intended to inform your instruction; they are not tests and should not be used to grade children.
The MASTER LESSON GUIDE Suggested Sequence for Phonics Lessons is the recommended sequence for the system, but the lessons can be organized in whatever way works best for you. The Nine Areas of Learning Across the Year is a detailed chart found toward the end of the Introduction pages of the Lessons book as well as in Online Resources. In creating this ten-month overview or map, we considered how children’s experiences are likely to build across the year. This map shows a continuum of easier to harder principles. It will help you think
in broad strokes about the program you are providing for the children in your classroom, which must always be considered in light of your observations and assessments of what the children know and can do at any given point. If children are very knowledgeable and experienced, you may decide that some lessons can be abbreviated or omitted. If children are very inexperienced in a given area, lessons may need to be repeated using different examples. Reflecting on the map will help you be aware of the entire body of knowledge that is important for your students.
We wish you success as you use this system
Helenann Steensen, Official Fountas & Pinnell Consultant, Heinemann