Margin Notes



Jennifer Seravallo’s The Literacy Teacher’s Playbook Grades K-2, 3-6 sheds a new light on turning assessment data into goal-direct instruction. Often we rely so heavily on formal products such as assignments, benchmark assessments, or exit slips that we forget to use the moment in many everyday opportunities to gather information to help guide our instruction. One way to triangulate data is to pay particular attention to the conversations going on in our classrooms.

Jennifer suggests that “student conversations give teachers a window into student’s understanding… by transcribing these conversations and reflect on them through the lens of comprehension we are able to reveal what a student understands or doesn’t understand.” Jennifer also reiterates how essential, “It is that we provide opportunities across the day for our students to engage in meaningful conversation: about topics of importance to the classroom community, a bout books read together as a class and independently with partners and clubs, about their writing, about math, and so on.  As students speak and listen, it’s just as important for us as teacher to listen and assess.

One tool Jennifer uses to record whole class conversations is by drawing a quick sketch of a circle with students initials placed in reference to where they are seated around the circle.  As the conversation takes place in her class, Jennifer takes notes about what the students are doing, records who speaks and who stays silent (note the check marks around the circle in the diagram below) and includes a brief transcription of what was said.  Jennifer “uses these notes as assessments from which to craft goals and develops teaching and learning opportunities for students.”

Here are two samples shared in The Literacy Teacher’s Playbook:

Engagement inventories are a quick strategy you can try tomorrow in any grade!

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