The idea of assessments is a little daunting. It seems so official and so formal. In a busy classroom, how do we possibly have time to give these big assessments that may not even give that much meaningful information anyways. But assessments don’t have to be scary. They don’t have to be intimidating, time consuming, or complex even. There are a ton of important informal assessments that you can do tomorrow (aka with minimal – if any – prep) that will give you valuable information on how to teach your students.
This one is a biggie. You have GOT to figure out what your students reinforcers are. Would you go to work if you didn’t get paid? Heck no. We have bills to pay. Same with our kiddos, we need to make sure that they are getting “paid” for their hard work. Don’t assume anything here. Not every students wants to work for the iPad (I know… shocking…). And many students aren’t that into praise or good grades. Conduct preference assessments to determine what items may work as a reinforcer for your students. Also then go ahead and start pairing yourself with those items so you become a reinforcer too! More info on this strategy here. Learn all the details on how to conduct an MSWO presence assessment here. It’s quick and easy – I promise!
Basic Skills Checklist
When I have a brand new student and I know nothing about them (because let’s be real, sometimes that IEP shows up after the student does or you have approximately 90 seconds to prep for that new student), I always grab a full set of my themed File Folder Activities. This gives me a huge range of skills to assess in a quick and low pressure way. These file folder sets include: matching, sorting by size, ordering by size, 3 levels of patterning, counting, number words, matching letters, and ordering letters. I actually always keep one set of file folders to the side to have access to all of them at once as needed. If one is way too easy, I can quickly up the difficulty level by grabbing another one. And the most important piece – write down notes! I know you think you will remember, but you won’t. By 3:00, you won’t remember what you ate for breakfast much less how many prompts your new little guy needed will sorting by size.
Once you start feeling like you are starting to get to know your students, it’s probably time to get a bit of academic baseline data. Again – you don’t have to get fancy here. I love using fluency programs to get some baseline in a super easy to do way. Grab some flashcards if you have them already or quickly make some sets on notecards, and test out where your students are at with sight words, letter id, math facts, and more. Make a list. Create a system for updating this later so you can see growth. I love these sheets from the Fluency Mega Pack. It reminds me of what skills to target and gives me a spot to track everything and keep it in one place.
Basic Social Skills
Keep some anecdotal notes regarding social skills. Does the student greet you? Does he greet his peers? Play a board game, grab a puzzle, or bring some action figures to the table. Watch the student play. Does he let you take turns. Again, make sure to write it all down. If you pretend to look upset, does your student ask you whats wrong? Play can be the best assessment!