Although student assessments grab news headlines only a few times a year, every teacher knows assessing a student’s mastery of skills is an ongoing task. Plainfield, Illinois, kindergarten teacher Yessica Ocampo found a way to make assessments much easier for herself and fun for her students. She created special cases with all of the materials students need and worked assessments into her classroom routine.
Each student has their own scrapbook case with several items:
- Writing journals
- Kindergarten helper sheet
- Magnetic dry-erase board with markers and an eraser (students’ favorite part of the entire kit)
- Magnetic letter tiles for the letter of the week
Yessica says her students like their cases because they look like briefcases. When it’s time to move into this part of the lesson students take their case and settle in any spot of the room they’d like to be in to work: their “work bubble.” If a child is struggling with a particular concept, Yessica may encourage him or her to sit near a classmate so the two can help each other. Once students settle in, Yessica will work with them as a class, often asking students to write a particular letter or word on their boards and raise their boards up when they’re done. Doing so allows Yessica to quickly assess her students’ mastery of various concepts.
“[The students] are at such different stages of learning it’s hard to see where everyone is,” Yessica said. That’s why this method of assessments works so well for her and her class. She said the dry-erase boards are much easier for students to work with than worksheets. “It’s frustrating for younger learners to try to fit letters and words in a small space in their workbooks.”
This is Yessica’s third year using this assessment method. Each year she tailors her approach to meet the unique needs of each of her students: making this a daily activity for some classes or something that happens just a few times a week. Either way, the cases are a simple, effective way for Yessica to assess what her students know and which skills they need to work on.