Creating Fancy Scanable Assessments!!!

Word on the street is that they’re going to permit us, the lowly elementary teachers, to make our own scannable assessments this fall!!! (Middle school and high school teachers have already been able to do this for a year.) In preparation for this, I’m starting to scan some social studies items so my students can be assessed on Document-Based Questions. But I really didn’t know what to do, step by step, and since I use a non-district-supported Mac, I couldn’t go to my IT department. I mean, I’m COMPLETELY AWARE you can just open the PDF then take a screen capture of the image you want, but I wanted to preserve the quality of the scan as much as possible.

So if you’re in the same boat as me, here’s a step by step guide to scanning your current hard-copy assessments in and getting them ready to be turned into a Pinnacle assessment.

1. Scan in each page of your current assessment. If you can scan them in as JPGs, then you’ll just be able to crop the image out of each page, then re-save. Mine were scanned in as PDFs, so there are a few extra steps.

2. Open the PDF in preview.

3. Use the selection tool to capture the image you want to save. Go to Edit, Copy.

4. In the File window, open “New from Clipboard.” This option won’t be available unless you copy your image!

5. Go to File, Save As.

6. Make sure you change the format of your document from PDF to JPG.

All done! Not too bad, if you didn’t have to spend 384925671254 minutes trying to figure out how to get a high-quality image. That’s what I’m here for friends, asking the stupid computer questions so you don’t have to.

Author’s Purpose Performance Task

Wildwood’s literary focus of November and December is author’s purpose, so I used some of the ideas I got from our district’s Standards-Based Assessment team.

For the fiction task, students are picture book publishers trying to convince elementary school teachers to purchase books for their lessons. For the nonfiction task, students are interns at National Geographic trying to score a top photographer to shoot images for a new nonfiction text. Students have a variety of ways to show their understanding of both the surface-level author’s purpose as well as their deeper themes or messages.

I designed this assessment for my 2nd/3rd GATE class, but I think it could be modified for 4th and 5th grade just by changing the text grade levels. I’m basing the end-of-the-year Fountas & Pinnell grade levels off district standards, with an eye toward our future adoption of Common Core Standards. If your students aren’t ready to be assessed at the end-of-the-year reading level, no worries — just give them more appropriate texts.

Here are the books I’m using for the fiction task. I picked books we had multiple copies of in our school library, so I could get a few extra copies checked out from the public library and then have enough for my whole class.

2nd (Guided Reading Level L-M)

  • Alexander, who’s not (do you hear me? I mean it!) going to move, Judith Viorst (M)
  • Barn Dance!, Bill Martin (L)
  • A Chair for my Mother, Vera B. Williams (M)
  • Cinderella’s Rat, Susan Meddaugh (L)
  • Galimoto, Karen Lynn Williams (M)

3rd (Guided Reading Level O-P)

  • Animal Snackers, Betsy Lewin (O)
  • A Bad Case of Stripes, David Shannon (P)
  • Legend of the Bluebonnet, Tomie DePaola (O)
  • Mrs. Katz and Tush, Patricia Polacco (P)
  • Sam Johnson and the Blue Ribbon Quilt, Lisa Campbell Ernst (P)

4th grade would use level S-T, and 5th grade would use U-V.

There are rubrics included with both the fiction and the nonfiction tasks. Download and enjoy; I always appreciate comments and feedback!

Author’s Purpose Fiction Performance Task — Book Publisher

Author’s Purpose Nonfiction Performance Task — National Geographic

SBE Assessment Training

Today, I kept it real at a rad meeting of the minds. Folks from across the district came together to take the next step in creating common assessments that will be used district-wide. I worked on 3-5 reading assessments with some incredibly inspiring folks district-wide. I finally had the chance to meet Erin Hassen, who I had heard about for YEARS from Garrett and Siobhan Chan, the educational power couple. I want to hang out with her every day. I have so much to learn from her.

Common core is pretty darned awesome. It is going to kick us in the FACE if we are not prepared.

Today, I also learned about Dan Meyer from Kimmie Choi, who is brilliant. His work made me think about how much I would love it if I could finagle a doctoral fellowship some time in my future. If you can help me plot this scheme, let me know. I’m not terribly picky about schools……..


… or anywhere that would have me.

Anyway. I had a chance to see the math team coach from Sacajawea Middle School, who helped me answer the NCTM’s Twitter math problem of the day. (Half is one-third of it. What is it?) The coach didn’t seem to remember me from the TJ math competitions we’ve been at together, but it’s OK, because there were a lot of people at the meeting who I knew but who didn’t know me. Besides, I’d rather people not remember me than immediately know me as OH THAT person.

I thought a lot today about what impact an effective principal is able to have outside of the school building. I was freaking out this morning, all, “WHAT IF MICHAEL LEAVES US SOON AND PEOPLE GET CRAZY NEGATIVE?!?!?!” and about halfway to Federal Way (and halfway through my iced pumpkin spice latte), I realized that even in that worst-case scenario, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Even if negativity descended on the school, I am now MUCH better equipped to have power over my own experiences within that negativity.

Speaking of having POWER over crappy situations, Miss Washington came to our school yesterday. I was EXTREMELY SKEPTICAL up until about a half hour into her assembly. Then she blew my mind and I wanted to hug her and hire her. I’ll tell you more about that tomorrow.

Now. Off to catch my bus. Even though I grumble about it right after I wake up, I really love taking the bus. I just wish my funds permitted me to purchase an iced pumpkin spice latte both on the way to AND from Federal Way…


Common Core Standards

Washington state has officially adopted National Common Core Standards. They won’t go into effect (read: they won’t be used on standardized tests) until 2013-2014, but I wanted to let you know to keep you posted. The good news is that Washington’s state standards are really very close to these national standards, so our curriculum shouldn’t change too much.

You can read the press release here.