Spiral Assessments are an important part of my classroom. Awhile back I wrote a blog post about “Why Spiral In the Classroom”. I explained that I believe a spiraling curriculum is critical in today’s educational environment and we must be consistently giving students the opportunity to revisit and practice standards they have already learned. I discussed various ways to incorporate spiraling, or reviewing, through homework, morning work, small group instruction, and even math centers. What about assessments? If we are going to continuously review skills and concepts with our students, doesn’t it make sense that we would also continue to assess their understanding on those same skills? The answer is YES!
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Let me break it down for you…Here is why it works!
- When we first teach and assess a standard, many of our students have yet to master it. By incorporating a spiral style assessment into your classroom, you are providing your students with the opportunity to demonstrate their growth and understanding on a regular basis.
- These regular assessments help you see where your students are struggling at all times. You can use these tools to guide your small group instruction and customize your lessons and activities to meet the needs of your students, not just the set curriculum.
- As a result, students’ confidence in math will increase as they do better and better on their quizzes. We all know students are capable of great things when they feel confident in their abilities.
- Spiral assessments will ensure that a student’s grade reflects their current understanding. If a student fails a test on adding fractions and we never give them another opportunity to demonstrate their understanding as they learn and grow, is that test grade a true reflection of their ability level? No.
What does a Spiral Assessment look like?
A typical test focuses on one standard or a group of related standards, while a spiral quiz focuses on multiple standards that have already been taught in class. Here is a visual…
This quiz touches on the most current skill being taught while still reviewing previously taught concepts. I also include the standards so I can easily tell which areas need to be revisited.
How I used Spiral Assessments in my Classroom
It’s actually pretty simple. Each Friday I would take about 10-15 minutes and give a spiral quiz. I then used the data from the quiz to help me plan my small group lessons for the next week. I would pull different students for different skills until I felt confident that THEY were confident. Next week, repeat….new spiral quiz, similar skills being assessed, new data for small group instruction.
One of my favorite benefits is the data spiral assessments provide! Yes, that is right! I use my weekly assessments as a progress monitoring tool as well. This has proven to be effective in letting me know how my most struggling students are progressing while being a total time saver.
By using this assessment system in conjunction with my spiral homework, I saw amazing results! My students were more confident and showed better understanding than ever before.
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If you would like to learn more about my Spiral Homework System, check out THIS blog post.