Saturday, May 7, 2011

Signs of Spring

The birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming, the trees have filled out with bright green leaves, and the kindergarten/first grade hallway looks like this:
Note the small desks/tables outside of each classroom so that we can pull children for one on one testing.

It must be May.

The testing window opens in May and so it's time to start pulling our children aside one by one to assess how far they've come this year. In kindergarten for reading alone we pull each child aside 12 individual times to assess how they've come with their concepts of print, their letter knowledge, their phonemic awareness, and  their ability to read. It's lovely, lovely fun as you can only imagine.

Since we use the same scoring sheet throughout the year for each child you get to see the progress they've made. To be honest, I completely forgot how low the little ones were when they came in. The majority of the kiddos in one of my classes knew almost no letters of the alphabet, and in fact, when asked to identify a letter, even a letter in their name, responded with "8", "29" or, "Hey, it looks like sponge bob!"

As I'm giving the spring version of the assessment and trying not to grind my teeth as a child confuses the lowercase f and t (arggghhhhhh..... ) I find myself glancing at the fall version of the test. Suddenly knowing all the letters but confusing b, d, p, and f and t doesn't seem like that bit a deal. In the fall they could not identify the first letter in their name, and in fact, had never recognized that those squiggly things on paper had names.

Of course, I'd prefer that they'd gone from not knowing anything to knowing all of their letters and letter sounds perfectly, so there is still a bit of sadness and teeth grinding when I realize we're not quite there yet. But that frustration is more with myself and what I've taught than with the child. When I realize how far the child came from September to May I'm suddenly filled with pride at how the little one changed from a timid, unsure 5 year old into a scholarly letter-identifying 6 year old. They did it. They worked hard in kindergarten.

In fact, so far I've only give 3 tasks of the 11 they took in September. But in those 3 tasks most of them have already out scored what they got in September when they were given the full 11 tasks.

In the same class the majority of our friends were unable to rhyme at all in September. Most of them got none of the rhyming questions correct. Yesterday when I gave the rhyming test they didn't even let me finish the question before they identified the rhyming words.

It's still not perfect. Like I said before, I wish they were doing better. There is still the feeling of sadness and frustration that I've missed teaching them important pieces- like the difference between t and f. That they should be even further along than they are and really that's my fault as their teacher. But it's nice to mix high expectations with the reality of how far they've come.


Jenny said...

I felt the urge to take that exact same picture yesterday as I rounded the corner by the library. Sigh.

One of the things I love about the primary grades is how clear the kids' learning is. The progress they make is so immense it's impossible to miss. That's not so true in the upper grades.

luckeyfrog said...

Ugh, aren't you sick of the testing already? I just want to TEACH!

It is nice, though, to see the progress most have made, even though I'm similarly frustrated by a few others that I wish I could have helped make more growth.