Using Diagnostic Assessments to Guide Instruction
Diagnostic assessments are only as good as what you do with the data after your students have taken it. At the start of the school year, a diagnostic is a great way to gauge your students’ levels. This, combined with other evidence including teacher observations, will enable you to meet your students where they are – not just academically, but emotionally, cognitively, and socially as well. So exactly how do you go about meeting students where they’re at?
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Meet students where they are
In a typical class, you will have several students at different levels. Some will enter your class already above grade level both academically and maturity wise, some will be on grade level, and yet others will be below grade level, sometimes by a significant amount. Some students may be ahead in one area such as academics, but behind in another, such as social skills. However, it doesn’t really matter where your students start from – what matters is where they are going. The goal is to help every student move forward and show growth as they progress through the year. This takes as much dedication and commitment on their part as it does on yours.
Once you have a clearer picture of your students’ starting points, you can make plans for addressing their immediate needs. The first step in this process is to become comfortable with the idea of moving from a teacher-centered classroom to a learner-centered classroom. In this model, the teacher acts as more of a “facilitator” of learning. Class structure is focused on enabling students to become active participants in the learning process.
This model can look very different from one class to the next, depending on the teacher, group of students, and learning environment, but there is no “one size fits all.” Oftentimes you have to try different structures before you find one that works best, and that can vary from year to year.
As an example, your class period or block might flow something like this:
- Teacher gives a mini-lesson for the whole class, including explicit instruction of a skill or strategy
- Students work in small groups on a discovery-based activity related to the skill
- Students work independently on personalized practice, while the teacher conferences with small groups or individual students
- Teacher conducts spot check-ins with students and provides constructive feedback
- Students complete a quick formative assessment to check for understanding
- Teacher reviews data from the personalized practice and assessments to inform next steps
Certainly not every class, everyday, can be this neatly structured, but using a framework like this as a guide will definitely help. Edtech platforms such as Sumdog help with personalizing the practice and creating low-stress assessments that will keep your students engaged and motivated. An added perk is that Sumdog marks everything for you, thereby reducing teacher workload, and freeing up more time for you to attend to your students. Even when you’re not able to assign specific practice, Sumdog has you covered! After completing the diagnostic, student’s practice within games is automatically adapted to meet their individual needs.
Interested in learning more about the benefits of a Sumdog subscription? Call 877-978-6364 or book a time to speak with a member of our team!