Several years ago, (I don't even know how many for sure, but at least 6!) , while looking for a better way to keep track of my assessments, I somehow ran across ESGI (Educational Software for Guiding Instruction). I can seriously say it is THE biggest game changer in my classroom I have found...maybe ever. Seriously.
What I was looking for to at the time, was simply an easy way to keep track of how many letters and letter sounds my kids knew. I was buried in papers that looked something like this:
It was a pain...but it worked. I would go through and put an x under each letter they knew at assessment times. I had one for lowercase, one for uppercase, one for sounds, one for sight words...and that was just in my "Literacy" folder. I would do "flash card" assessment with my students, then transfer my data to these sheets. It was just a lot of papers to keep track of, and I was spending SO much time charting that data (and trying to remember what my scribbled notes to myself as I assessed meant).
After my accidental "stumble", I decided to give it a try. I got the free trial for ESGI, using it to assess and keep track of just letters, sounds, and sight words. To be honest, it was very similar to my flashcard method in some ways, except I didn't have to remember which is my "yes" pile afterwards...and then transfer it on to my spreadsheet. With ESGI, my "flashcards" are kind of like a powerpoint, and I just click yes or no...and ESGI magically does the rest. I can even leave notes...to help me keep track of those kids who always say "were" for where on sight word assessments. :)
I loved the free trial so much, I payed (out of my own pocket...we all know how that goes!) for a year subscription...then another after that (because, now I couldn't live without it).
Eventually, I told my principal about the awesomeness of ESGI (Everyone Should Get It) enough times, and now, our district purchases it for us, and uses it for assessment in PreK and Kindergarten.
We are a PLC school...which means we have weekly meetings where we are just analyzing data, figuring out who needs intervention, and putting kids into groups based on our assessments and their needs. I can't even IMAGINE trying to do that with my old way of assessing.
We have also used it to help us with other assessments we are required to do. For example, our district uses Go Math, and we are required to give the beginning, middle, and end of the year assessments that go with that series. If you are not familiar with these assessments, they are a "fill in the dot" kind of test ("fill in the dot next to the picture that has LESS than the picture at the beginning of the row"). There are about 30 questions, and each "concept" on the beginning of the year test is repeated on the middle of the year, and end of the year tests. For example, question 7 might be a 10 frames picture showing 13 on the beginning of the year test...on the middle of they year, it will be very similar but maybe showing 15.
Anyway, we created (yes, you can create your own assessments!) an ESGI assessment to go along with these tests. After the kids take the pen and pencil test, we go through and click through yes/no according to their answers. In the end we have SO much information. I can tell if most of my kids already have teen numbers down (ok, that never happens), then I can put my focus elsewhere.
We've even added the ESGI parent letters as a part of our report cards. It shows exactly what the student knows, and what they need to work on. Why rewrite it?
I seriously love ESGI. I love creating assessments. I love how easy it is to compare data over time, across my classroom, as well as with my team. I love the parent reports. I love the "push one button..here's your flashcards to send home" feature. Most of all, I love spreading the word about their awesomeness. When I talk to other teachers who haven't yet heard of it, and they see what it can do...it's like they just light up!
ESGI has made me a better kindergarten teacher. It allows me to use formative assessment easily, which assesses what they need to know, shows me what they know and don't know, and puts information at my fingertips that guides my teachings every day.