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Assessing the Children’s Learning

As we are heading towards report cards and graduation, I am assessing what the children have learned, as I do regularly throughout the year.  I am amazed at how far they have come, from their first tentative steps into the world of reading, writing, math and science, to a place where they are regularly applying and transferring their knowledge on a daily basis.  Notes are written and left around the room, small groups of children find a quiet spot to read together, questions are asked and ideas confidently shared at morning meeting, math problems solved with a, “Oh, this is easy.”  They see themselves as ‘scientists, artists, writers and mathematicians’, each at their own stage of development and enjoying these new skills and knowledge.  As we take an Inquiry approach to learning throughout the year, assessment AS the children are learning, is as critical as an assessment of WHAT they have learned.  Setting a culture at the beginning of the year of, “I See, I Think, I Wonder” as we carry out our discussions, is a window into the children’s current knowledge and a pathway to lead the children further in their understandings.  Talking regularly about “The Ethics of Excellence”, and critiquing each other’s work, provides feedback from their peers, as well as their teacher. It is a wonderful way of enabling the children to see how they can improve their work, and also develop that ‘Habit of Mind’ AS they learn.  It is the beginnings of learning how to self-assess, which will impact their learning greatly, as they move forward in their school years. Inspired by the Reggio Approach, reminds me of the importance of asking the children HOW they want to show their learning, going beyond the traditional check off lists of skills, such as “Able to print numbers to 100”.  Documenting their learning reflects so much of what they HAVE learned, and also where I can scaffold their learning to continually move them forward. Assessment thus becomes an authentic tool to drive learning, as well as a record showing that they have met the curriculum expectations of their SK year.

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