Assessment and Report Writing: 6 tips to help teachers prepare!
Teacher friends, it’s that time of year! Time to start thinking about report writing! ALREADY? I hear some of you ask. YES! But not in the way you might think. To ensure your report writing season isn’t a stressful one, NOW is the time to be doing the groundwork while you’re performing assessment. You can come up with so.much.gold now, which will make report writing a breeze in a few months time. Not convinced? Keep reading, friend!
I’m here to remind you that assessment and report writing time doesn’t have to be hard work and it doesn’t have to be painful! And you certainly don’t have to reinvent the wheel! If you’re a grad teacher, you might feel like you don’t have any idea what the wheel is supposed to look like anyway!
Well, I want to ease your minds… If you’re feeling overwhelmed by upcoming report writing, I’ll share with you some shortcuts and easier ways to plan and prepare for reports. I want to help you get through your first lot of reports, only to look back and realise, that wasn’t so bad!!
A little ground work – like organisation and preparation – will make assessment report writing so much easier and, dare I say it, fun! What does this look like? Let me show you!
1. Gather and/or create your Assessment and Reporting Documents
First things first! You need to know where your students need to be at the end of the Semester and this will determine what content you will need to teach and assess. Here in Australia, this is all determined by the Australian Assessment and Curriculum Authority and the Common Core State Standards are used in the United States.
Once you’ve gathered your curriculum standards and materials, you can begin planning your content and creating assessment documents in the form of checklists to work through each of the general capabilities. I’m not going to lie – this is the hardest part. It’s time consuming and tedious but once you have it all set up you will be good to GO!!
Below are a couple of examples of the checklists I have created and used with my students. These in particular covers the area of Mathematics. It took me years of experience and lots of trial and error to come up with a system that suited me and I can confidently say that I finally nailed it! These checklists have the grade level standard as well as the standard above and below to give me a quick snapshot of where the child is at and where they need to be. It also helps when planning for extension or support activities and grouping like-children.
If you’re the type of person who would prefer to save yourself the time and/or hassle and just have it all done for you, then you need to check out my Acing Assessment Bundle! It includes all of my pre-made checklists and note taking templates for the Australian Curriculum, lesson plans and a whole lot more which I will list at the end of this post.
2. Organise your Assessment and Reporting Materials
Want to know the simple but effective trick for making report writing a breeze? Stay organised! By having your reporting and assessment materials easily identifiable, you’ll save time hunting for that one document you can’t seem to find anywhere!
My suggestion? Organise your documents into folders. Use binders for each subject area and label the front and spines to help you find them quickly and effortlessly. Use dividers and label each one with your student’s names to separate each child’s work and observational notes into easily identifiable sections.
Note: You may [or may not] choose to make your folders look aesthetically pleasing if that’s your thing – remember, you do you! Personally, this is my favourite part and I find that if I have my assessment folders labelled, pretty and organised at the start of the year, I am already halfway there and on the road to success! It makes it so much easier for me to stay motivated and increases the likelihood of me following through with the organisation during the course of the year.
Above are some of my Editable Binder Covers with matching Spines available in seven stylish themes.
3. Schedule dedicated assessment time into your planners
It wouldn’t be possible to provide a *true* representation of your students’ progress without evidence of their growth and achievements throughout the semester. So, that means it’s up to us, as teachers, to give students the opportunity to show us what they’ve learned!
I highly recommend scheduling in assessment time into your weekly/monthly/term planners right from the start. It’s so important you allow yourself enough time to create and conduct the assessment tasks in order to get the data you need. Being able to see this at a glance will ensure you’re prepared and things aren’t missed.
4. Collect your data with Pre and Post Assessment
There are multiple ways of gathering the data you require to inform you of your students’ achievements however the most common forms of pre and post assessments are formal written tests and observations.
Using pre-made checklists and templates for observational notes is so important to assist in setting yourself up for a smooth report writing process. Different approaches work best for different people so experiment using different templates and once you work out what your preferred type is – stick to it!
TIP: Working with students one-on-one and struggling to keep the rest of the class on task? It takes practice. I recommend you check out my IG post about using a Do Not Disturb signpost while you’re assessing students. Once I worked this out, it was a game changer for me!
Additionally, I have an article all about setting your students up to work independently so you can conduct one-on-one assessment – interruption free!
5. Get yourself into a report writing headspace
Sometimes, the trickiest part about report writing is just forcing yourself to sit down and start! However, if you follow the tips I’ve just mentioned – you might not be lacking in motivation! Why? Because you’re got your stuff *sorted*! Now it’s just a matter of popping all your data into your report format.
Here are some ideas to help you get in the right headspace when it’s time to write!
- Clear your mind!
Got things that are bothering you? Chat to a friend. Got a to-do list floating around your head? Jot it down in my Brain Dump! Need a couple of minutes of mindfulness or meditation? Check out the Smiling Minds app! Do whatever you need to do to have a clear mind that can focus on one thing – writing reports!
- Clear your physical space!
If you’re anything like me, you’ll need a clean and tidy workspace to write productively. Take five minutes to pop things away and declutter your space.
- Clear your weekend!
Allow yourself more time than you think you’ll need to write reports. Schedule in report writing time so your social life doesn’t fill your weekend first. But also ensure you are making time to have a break from reports – exercise, outings, fresh air, meal breaks etc. Whatever floats your boat!
6. Report Comment Banks will only get you so far!
We’ve all seen those ‘Free downloadable report writing comment banks’ circulating around. Whilst they are downloading onto your hard drive, they may initially make you feel like your report writing woes are over – don’t be fooled… This feeling is only temporary as you’ll quickly realise that they are just that – a bank of comments. In order to use them you will need to put in the hard yards and *really* get to know your students abilities and achievements.
How do you do that?
By following the above steps! Together, these steps will give you, as a teacher, an holistic approach to assessment and reporting. It will also offer a true insight into where each student started and the achievements they’ve made. And just as importantly? It will highlight areas where they can improve.
Overwhelmed? I’m here to help!
I’ve created a time-saving Acing Assessment Pack for Australian teachers to use throughout the school year. This comprehensive bundle will keep you on track and organised when it comes to assessing your students and writing their reports!
What’s included? Glad you asked! There are the key resources that I have created and bundled for you that form the Acing Assessments curriculum:
Guided Reading Folder (Reading Assessment Forms)
You can click on the individual products for a summary of what they include.
It’s time to enjoy report writing!
When it comes time to write reports, I find it’s actually a really lovely experience reflecting on my students’ development. It might sound corny, but I love writing personal examples of progress – knowing that the students’ parents would read them and get more insight into how their child is developing.
If you have any other tips or ideas around preparing for assessment and report writing, I’d love you to share them in the comments below for other teachers in the MJLL community to see!
And remember friend: Small steps, everyday. That’s all it takes!