My affection for using centers in my classroom grew even more when I realized the centers I had planned and set up could also be used as assessment tools! Not only was I getting more mileage out of the centers, but my students were familiar with these centers so it wasn’t something new and different which made the assessment process more comfortable for everyone.
Planning and setting up centers for skills like letter and number recognition, color recognition and matching, and shape recognition are skills every preschooler or PreKer needs anyway, and teachers need to assess these skills for each student periodically. So, it makes sense to use the already-set-up-centers to your advantage for assessments, too.
Setting Up Centers to Use for Assessments
How I rearrange the center a bit for an assessment is to prepare the center, bring my assessment recording page, and find something to write with. Not much different than just getting up the center to begin with. In my classroom, there’s just me with 10 students. So, getting the other 9 students engaged with activities is a must before I start the assessments we’re doing that day.
Easy Center Assessment Recording Sheets
Rather than having just one recording assessment sheet for each skill for everyone in the classroom, I’ve found it easier to have one recording sheet with multiple assessments for each individual student. This is great for an overview of where each student is in their learning altogether in one set of assessment sheets.
Another tip is to use one portion of the recording sheet for multiple assessments. For instance, set up a center for color recognition and color matching to assess those two skills at the same time. On the recording sheet, use a check mark for each color recognized by your student. Then also ask them to place a color item on the same color paper, and you’ll use an “M” for matching on the color portion of your assessment recording sheet.
As an example, when I set up this center to begin with, I placed out colored items like Legos, cars, paint brushes with colored handles, etc. I also placed out half sheets of construction paper with the same colors. So, part of the learning of this center is color recognition, and the added skill is matching – that a red Lego would go on a half sheet of red construction paper.
Take the Assessment Recording Sheet a Step Further
If you want to take the assessment further using the same recording sheet, assess for patterning using colors. On the recording sheet, use a “P” for a correct pattern your students make. Or write the pattern, such as “ABC ABC” for a correct pattern created by your students. Remember to start early learners off with the pattern – do one set of the pattern and see if they can repeat it one or two times more.
Save Money – Save Time – Save Energy
By using the center already set up in your classroom, assessments will go smoothly and will be done in a shorter amount of time. Plus, since these centers have been up for a while, or off and on a few times, before the assessments, your students will be familiar with the tasks of the assessments. So, nothing new or out of the ordinary to bring on stress or a sense of being uncomfortable. Another plus – you’re saving yourself time and energy and possibly even some funds to use elsewhere in your classroom!
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