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Assessing K-2 Math Skills:Part 1: Pre-Number Concepts

We are now well past the half-way point in the school year, and I usually like to give some sort of assessment testing so that I have a concrete measure of what my students can and can't do. I know that I am with them teaching them everyday and have a pretty good handle on what they do and don't know. I am so much a believer in the child progressing at their own pace, but I also like to feel that I know where they are so I can know very firmly where we are on the path of learning. You might see different skills in the many assessment tools that are out there, but most elementary students are expected to know skills in these three areas:
1. Pre-number concepts include Counting by Rote Memory (in a variety of groupings), One-to-One Correspondence, Conservation of Number, Instant Recognition, Counting Backwards, Estimation of Objects, Numeral Recognition, Numeral Forms.
2. Operations concepts includes the child’s understanding of simple addition and subtraction operations at the concept, connecting and symbolic levels. The child’s ability to find solutions to simple addition and subtraction problems through visualization is also assessed at this level.
3. Place Value includes the child’s understanding of the regrouping process, building numbers greater than ten using manipulatives at the concept, connecting, and symbolic levels and regrouping while adding and subtracting.

My teaching style is one of as little workbook pages as possible and as much interesting, hands-on games as possible. I feel that assessment shouldn't be any different. Your child should not feel like he is being tested but like you two are playing games together. Don't expect to do all of the assessment in one day. It would burn you both out. Take your time. And whatever happens, do NOT feel bad for what your child does not know. Cherish what he does know and think of what he does not know as fuel for your future activities. Take it all at your and your child's pace. This first part covers Pre-number concepts only...the others to follow.

Counting by Rote Memory: Start off having your child count by rote (without objects to count) as far as he can. If he can make it to 100, have him count by 2's, by 5's and by 10's.
One-to-One Correspondence: Now make 3 groups of objects (counters, beans, blocks, whatever you have on hand): 4, 8 and 12. Ask your child to pick one of the groups and count them. If he has no trouble with the one he picks, ask him to count the next higher. If he counts 12 successfully, put them together and see how far he can count. If he picks a pile to large for him to count, ask him to count the next smaller pile.
Then ask the child to count the objects again, beginning with a different object than he started with. Next ask the child to count the objects again, this time indicating the last object to be counted. If the child can comfortably count five objects in any order, increase the number of objects.
Instant Recognition: Place four groups of objects on the table: a group of 2, 3, 4, and 5. Say quickly to the child, “Point to the group of (three, five, two, three, four, five).” The child’s responses should be instantaneous. Do not allow the child time to verbally or physically count the objects.
Conservation of Number: Make two rows of about 10 objects so that they are placed in one-to-one correspondence. Ask the child if there are the same number of things in each row. Spread out one of objects in each row of objects to make a longer line. Now ask the same question, “Are there the same number? Why?" Can he explain?
Counting Backwards: Ask the child to place seven objects in a row. Have him count them. Cover one object and ask the child to tell how many objects there are now. Continue to cover the objects until there are no more. Can he counts backwards without counting the objects each time? Can he count backwards by more than one object at a time?
If you have Unifix cubes make 8-10 stacks with different numbers of cubes in each stack. Line the stacks up in a row. Point to one stack at a time and ask him to tell you how many cubes are in each stack. Note if he needs to count each stack every time or if he or she finds the total by counting-on or counting backwards from previously counted stacks.
Estimation of Objects: For this next one you will need three identical small jars with different amounts of objects inside them. There should be a pattern to the quantity — e.g., 25, 50, and 100 objects. Ask him to estimate how many beans there are in jar A. Then say to the child, “If there are (his estimate) beans in jar A, then how many beans do you think there are in jar B?” And finally say, “If there are (his estimate) beans in jar B, then how many beans are in jar C?” Allow him to pick up the jar and look at the beans inside before he or she gives an answer.
Numeral Recognition: For this one you will need cards with the numerals 0-20. Beginning with numerals 0-10, scatter the numerals randomly on the table. Ask the child to point to each numeral card and say its name. If he comfortably identifies the numerals 0-10, then repeat the process with numerals 11-20.
Writing Numerals: Show the numeral cards one at a time, out of order and ask him to write the numeral on a blank piece of paper. Date his work and save it in his or her file folder. It’s fun to compare his progress throughout the year. It’s also rewarding for him to see his growth.

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