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First Grade Assessments Made Fun

by Heather Diaz-Conrado on November 3, 2016


My name is Heather Diaz. I teach 1st grade in a Title I school. MANY of my students are ESL students from multiple countries, with multiple languages.

Last year my school district replaced our reading assessment tool with Istation. Our former test was one-on-one with the teacher. I had the ability to make sure my students were attending to their reading assessment because I was right there. At the beginning of the year I began using Istation. Some students loved it; some students were less than happy to work on it. I spoke with the kids and explained that this was now one way that I would see how they were doing in their reading. The highly motivated students were with me; others were not seeing the importance of Istation.

Motivating all of my kids became a mission for me. How can I get all of my kids to buy into this program? Hence SUPER READER was born. I went to my local party store and bought a goofy headband with red tassels on top, a blue mask that I glitterized, worked to create an emblem for my SUPER READER character for my shirt, and finally, my red cape. The first of that next month I dressed up in my full gear and met my students at the door. Wow, their faces were priceless!!!

I also decided that I wanted to make this time a social, happy event for them. I bought donuts and fresh orange juice for them. That pushed things over the top for them. This prompted so many questions. It was fun! ‘Is that you Mrs. Diaz?’ ‘Why are you dressed up?’ Lots of giggles.

I wished each of them the best of luck and to do their best so SUPER READER could see their reading growth. I also decided I wanted them to feel their hands were magical, so I sprinkled gold glitter on the tops of their hands right before they tested. I saw great attention to their work and scores did rise! My favorite part was I knew that I had made this time fun and special for them. After the testing time, SUPER READER disappeared and Mrs. Diaz returned!

Before the next month of testing, I spent time explaining how the program works and why we do it. They are never too young to know “Why am I doing this?” I showed them on the back of their guided reading books info about levels. I explained that our goal was to set a goal higher than last month's score and mark it on our goal sheet every time we take this test. The daily practice and our reading at home and school help that to happen.

I decided I wanted them to set a goal every month before their test so they could SEE their progress. I created a form for this that started at pre-K and rose in a column to GE 2.0. I had to adjust that number as a few of my kiddos jumped to 4.0 by the end of the year. I marked where the student tested at the prior month, and the kids set their own goal for the current month. I reminded them that our goal is one month’s growth. It’s fun to see their goals.

Immediately after taking their test, they wanted to know if they had grown. We would mark where they tested and count their growth!! They were so proud. I knew that they had become self-motivated.

So currently:

  • Donuts and juice are a monthly thing! We chat and socialize before we test.
  • SUPER READER is always there for testing. Motivating!
  • SUPER READER visits other classes before testing. Building bridges.
  • Kids know why we use Istation and set their own goals. Purpose!

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I wanted to make a cape for each child, but it just wasn’t feasible for me. So presently, it’s just SUPER READER in our classroom. I would love each child to have their own someday. My principal . . . was a great encourager to my idea and told me to run with it! That was motivating for me.

Giving purpose to a child is key. Answering their question of “Why do I HAVE to do this?” was so important to me. If you ask any of my students from last year, they would be able to tell you exactly why. This is why I do what I do.

Thank you for this amazing story, Mrs. Diaz! Her class has received their red capes and wore them proudly as they took their November ISIP Assessment.  

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Topics: Testimonials and Success Stories

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