Tuesday, December 10, 2013

SOLSC What good is the data?

It is Tuesday and this is a "Slice of Life" for Two Writing Teachers.  Check out their website for lots more reflections on teaching.


She is full of energy, and endless motion.
She visits every center, every day, several visits to each one,
never staying very long.
She loves the sensory table.
She is always busy, up to something.
I have to keep my peripheral vision on her,
if not my full attention.
Yes, she is a "dumper" -
if I'm not right there next to her,
she will dump the beads all over the table,
empty the blocks onto the carpet,
fill a purse with all the pretend food and
dump it out elsewhere in the room.
She is happy and non-stop.

I wasn't surprised by the alphabet assessment.
She didn't recognize any of the letters.
She's just not ready to see these yet, I rationalized.
This is a mover and a shaker.
Her pre-literacy will be song, dance, books, and stories...
we'll get to letter recognition much later...
if not this preschool year, then perhaps pre-k.

At least this is what I was thinking until yesterday.

She was frenetic at the end of the day,
trying to get into the closed sensory table,
reaching for scissors to cut paper into small bits,
opening up the paints at the easel, long after they had been closed for the day.
I didn't want to say "no" anymore.
I scooped her up into my arms, saying,
"I need a minute with you - I need a hug!"
This freed me from having to follow her around,
while dismissing children to their families.
This kept her from getting into any more mischief.

While perched there,
head at my head level,
she surprised me.
She began reading a sign I had posted for adults...
putting her finger at each letter and reading aloud,
each letter,
one by one.


My data says,
consistently says,
she does not know any letters.

Yet, here she is,
reading every letter accurately.


What does this tell me about my assessment?
What have I learned about her?
How will I help her to focus from now on?
What else have I missed about her?
What have I assumed?
What good is the data?


  1. This gave me goosebumps! I am sure you will be asking yourself those questions over and over until you find the answers. I see great things ahead for you and this little girl....so exciting!

  2. Interesting discovery Maureen! Wonder what's up in that little head.

  3. Even with my older students, I think they did 'hold back', and shared their knowledge often only under certain circumstances. With the little ones, like your 'dumper', the priority is not letters, yet in another part of her, she's taking it all in. I bet she's gifted-& we call it asynchronous development-see things like this often. In the older school-related skills (write a paragraph, etc.), it's a tough call to know how to approach. Teachers have to record what they "see" or "hear" until otherwise observed. Do you need to have her do more, can't it wait? Amazing story, Maureen.

    1. Linda, thank you for this detailed and thoughtful comment! I think you have touched on what was on my mind - what about children who are "holding back"? Young children don't always put their "academic face" on - and they should not have to!! I am a strong proponent of play-based classrooms, but I must couple this with data requirements. I agree whole-heartedly with you - the alphabet learning can wait! I intend to follow her lead. I'm delighted that she clued me in to the way she learns...and let me know that I have a lot more to learn about her. Thanks again - I really appreciate how you take time to leave me a note, always a very kind and reflective thought.

  4. I often wonder what my ESL students are "holding back" because they can't express themselves clearly in English.

  5. I had goosebumps too and visions of my own movers and shakers are swirling in my head. I don't think I'll find them capable of doing what your little one did, but I do wonder about what else I might be missing.