Visible Learning for Literacy: Determining Impact on Your Teaching

Reflection is an essential part of being an educator. If our lessons are not leaving a lasting impact on our students, then we are doing something wrong... not the students. A lasting impact does not mean the lesson was fun. A lasting impact does not mean that the students liked the lesson. An impact occurs when your lesson has a strong effect on your students and their academic careers.

Reflection is an essential part of being an educator. If our lessons are not leaving a lasting impact on our students, then we are doing something wrong... not the students. A lasting impact does not mean the lesson was fun. A lasting impact does not mean that the students liked the lesson. An impact occurs when your lesson has a strong effect on your students and their academic careers.

Determine Your Impact

If you do not know where you are beginning with your students, then you cannot know how much progress they made. In other words, you need a preassessment. I know, you don't have time for anything else... especially another assessment! But, what if your students are already rock stars when it comes to reading CVC and CVCe words? Their kindergarten teacher did an exceptional job of teaching them last year and your students are ready to move on to blends. However, you planned based on what you experienced last year... remember when you had kids that could barely count to say their alphabet? A formal preassessment isn't necessary, but definitely take the time to find out what your students already know to determine where you need to being teaching and to gauge how much your students have learned at the end of the unit.

Can you guess what comes next? Yes, you need a post assessment too! Again, this doesn't have to be formal. You can asses your students through presentations, projects, writng, etc. It is important that you look for the growth that occurs between the beginning and end of your unit.


Assess Your Impact

You've assessed your students, but now it's time to assess yourself. Do you sense a theme here? In order to assess your impact, you need to know what you were trying to accomplish. Revisit your learning intentions - remember learning intentions are more than a standard. Learning intentions are targets based on your standards.
For example, if your standard is "Compare the experience of characters in two stories.", then your learning intention may be "Read The Three Little Pigs and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. Compare the pigs and wolf in both stories and determine how their lives were different in each story."
With your preassessments, post assessments, and learning intentions in mind determine what growth, if any, your students have made.


Make Adjustments

Obviously, after assessing your data, you want to see that you have made an impact on your students. That won't always be the case, but that's okay. When the impact is less than desirable, try something different. At this point you may need to reteach the entire class or you may need to target specific students that need additional support. Find what works best for your students and make an impact!

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