Assessment is the key to good instruction. It shows us what students know and allows us to adjust our instruction. Assessment is tied to learning goals and standards, but students must own the assessment process as well. —Andrew Miller
Assessments are key to helping our students achieve their greatest potential. Without them, we are merely teaching content rather than focusing on what each student needs to continue forward momentum.
Here are four important things to keep in mind when using assessments to guide our instruction and how the CAFE Menu strategies and board can be used to support them.
- Once the assessment is completed, be certain to discuss your findings with the student. They need to be involved in the process of knowing what they are good at and what will help them with their next steps. This may mean shifting the student goal from one area to another or layering on another goal.
- Students can have more than one goal area and often do. This means they may have their name posted on one or two of the cueing systems of CAFE: Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency, and Expand Vocabulary.
- Students post their name under the general goal rather than next to a specific strategy (as you can see in the photo). The reason? Even though we often introduce a strategy in isolation, it is difficult to elicit a strategy in isolation as we read. Because of this, it is important to constantly model and teach children to use multiple strategies at once. For example, consider the last time you read and your comprehension broke down. You likely stopped, backed up, and reread the section you didn’t understand. Perhaps you slowed down, focusing more closely on the words to see if you had inadvertently skipped one. Maybe you were able to identify the word that tripped you up by chunking letters together to decode. You may have worked on making a clearer picture in your mind of what you were reading. This is an example of using multiple strategies and cueing systems simultaneously.
- As strategies are taught whole group, they are added to the CAFE Menu. Since we want children to do as much of the work as possible, we aim to have them write strategy cards. Beginning readers and writers often trace over lightly printed teacher writing or copy the strategy from a sticky note. Those capable of writing legibly will print it on their own, even adding a picture to aid in understanding if applicable. It is most important that the cards are written so that all students can read them. If it’s necessary to have the teacher print the strategy on the card, they do so in front of the class, to anchor learning to the card and the Menu as it is posted.