4. RESPONDING TO INDIVIDUAL NEEDS
Dividing children into small groups for reading or other activities provides valuable opportunities to assess their individual performance. As an Early Literacy Teacher, I have had ample opportunity to observe how valuable small-group work can be for both students and teachers. Within small, leveled reading groups, ongoing informal assessment of the use of reading strategies such as chunking, rereading, using pictures, and finding context clues continually informs my instructional decisions. This informal assessment, combined with periodic formal assessments such as running records or the Developmental Reading Assessment, makes it possible to ensure that the work done within each group responds to the needs of each individual student. Discussions with other teachers with whom a student works also provide important insight into a student's needs. I enjoy working as a member of a team, and frequently converse with a student's other teachers to be sure that I am responding fully to that student'[s needs.
Assessment is one of a teacher's primary responsibilities. As a student in the graduate program at the University of New Haven, I performed extensive research into the educational needs of students who have suffered a traumatic brain injury. This research served to reinforce my understanding of the importance of ongoing assessment to inform educational decisions. Every student is entitled to an educational program that suits their particular strengths and weaknesses, especially students for whom learning is a challenge. I strive to incorporate both formal and informal assessments throughout my teaching.
Following are examples of worksheets I developed to respond to a classroom teacher's concerns that her bilingual third grade students were struggling with terms such as passage, paragraph, fact, opinion and pretend.
Assessment can take many forms. This art project assessed fourth-grade students' understanding of the resources available to the Sioux tribe, and the importance of the buffalo to that tribe.