Margo Dichtelmiller responded to a selection of questions and comments during an online event from October 15–19, 2012. Read the questions and her responses below!
Every day of our lives, teachers use some form of assessment. Even outside of the classroom, you assess in order to complete everyday tasks. For example, when you shop for fresh fruit and pick up several melons to see which one is ripe, you are assessing. When you change your necklace after looking in the mirror, you have assessed the situation and made a decision. When you take your child’s temperature before deciding to call the doctor, yes, you are engaged in assessment.
Assessment is simply the process of gathering information or data to help answer questions or make good decisions. It is an integral part of teaching. Teachers get to know children by observing them interacting in the classroom. Teachers can only decide how best to teach after they understand the knowledge and skills children already possess.
In my book, The Power of Assessment: Transforming Teaching and Learning, I share information about many types and methods of early childhood assessment: screening, checklists, observation, and portfolios. I also share stories from the many teachers I have met that are grounded in the lives of children and teachers in classrooms. My focus is always on the link between assessment and children’s learning because I believe powerful assessment enhances teaching and learning.
This discussion is intended to give you the opportunity to discuss your questions and concerns, successes and challenges regarding early childhood assessment. You may want to ask a question that you’ve been pondering or focus on one of the following questions:
- How do you use assessment to benefit children’s learning?
- What works for you when you observe children and document observations?
- How did you learn to interact with children and take notes at the same time?
- What are the challenges you face when sharing assessment information with families?
- How have you streamlined the data gathering process?
- How do you use assessment to foster children’s critical thinking?
I look forward to an interesting discussion with you about early childhood assessment.
— Margo Dichtelmiller