Monday, September 14, 2009

curriculum based measurement

my grad school program was huge on curriculum based measurement (CBM). the idea behind it is what we see in math mad-minute worksheets we all did growing up. you take a small task like multiplication tables, word wall words, or vocabulary words and give a quick one minute assessment every day to see where your class is on their knowledge and fluency of these items. the assessment cannot be identical day to day, but should show the exact same content knowledge with the exact same number of problems, just in different order (to prevent memorizing the order instead of the content).

as a child i HATED mad-minutes. i remember shoving books off my desk in second grade as i stared at my math test through my tears. in third grade i remember always having the lowest number every time my class did mad minutes. i could do the math quickly if the timer wasn't there, but the minute the teacher handed out the worksheet and announced it was timed my brain froze. it is possibly my worst memory in school.

my mother, who teaches second grade, says she uses my experience with the timer anxiety to teach her second graders about how to recognize test anxiety and practice calming down during mad minutes. they talk about it before they take their mad minutes, and then review the self-calming strategies they used once the mad minutes are over. this is brilliant, in this age of testing, and i wish someone had taught me those skills in second grade. perhaps i would not have been in trouble for throwing a book on the floor mid-mad minute.

so, last year when my grad school classes kept pushing CBM i was skeptical. i refused to think it could work. i rolled my eyes. i argued.

and then i tried it.

last year it was wildy successful with the kiddos i used it with. it made me wonder why i wasn't doing more of it.

the best part of it is that it is individualized for each kid. one child is working on letter sounds, another on word wall words, another on numbers, another on putting the letters of the child's name in order. it takes 2 minutes with each child. 30 seconds to get the kid to come over to you, thirty seconds to a minute to run through the task, 30 seconds to praise them and tell them and send them back to their seats. they love the one on one time they get with me and i love the fact that it immedietly documents everything i need from them. it charts their progress and daily informs me of where they are and where we need to go next.

for the children, as i wrote about in the post linked above, they realize they have control over their learning. the children pride themselves on improving and sometimes want to take it again if they missed some they know they can get right. it also gives our children that repitition children with learning disabilities need.

writing this i feel as though i was brain washed by grad school, and that i've become my evil private school teachers who always made us do tasks like this. it doesn't sound very child friendly (except when you realize it is based on the child's individual needs). it doesn't sound like it is improving their social skills (but it is only 2 minutes, and it is giving them confidence). it doesn't seem very learner-friendly with all the skill and drill aspect (but to practice their skills we play games and bring the material to their level).

last year i focused on getting my kindergarten students to learn their 25 high frequency words cold. this always seemed boring and tedious to me in the past. but now that i get to sit down and read with them as first graders i'm amazed at how much these high frequency words are becoming anchors in their reading. they know those words without blinking, which increases their fluency and frees them up to decode other words. they're successfully reading their guided reading books.

i feel like i've discovered the holy grail in these quick and dirty daily assessments. something about me hates that i love it so much, and something about me loves it too much to care.

1 comment:

Victoria said...

and that is why you are a GREAT teacher! YOU are always learning and opened to finding ways to help your students learn and love to learn too!!! Yay, AB!!!!