In Kindergarten (really in ALL grades) there are students alllllll over the spectrum when it comes to knowledge when they walk into your classroom. So one way that I help figure out how to differentiate for my students is with a quick Alphabet & Sound Assessment.
Now you might be thinking… well yea, I do that. And GREAT, because you should. But I think I use a kind of unique method behind it. So hang in there…
First I assess both uppercase, lowercase and sounds (lowercase focused). I begin the assessment with letter names. I provide the sheet with the letters all mixed up BUT with ONLY the uppercase OR lowercase letters (not together). I have a “teacher page” to record all their knowledge on a single page, like this:
Next I record the letters they DO know, but putting a check mark. The letters/sounds they do NOT know by circling it. For example:
You’ll notice that I have 2 different colors in the example above. Each time I assess the student I use a different color to record their learning/knowledge. This helps let me know what letters are a continued struggle, which letters they were able to master since the last time I assessed them, etc.
The first time I assess a student, I might ask them to do all of the letters/sounds just so I have baseline data. The next time(s), I STOP assessing once the students misses 5 letters. I do this because that way I can have that student focus on 5 letters (but you can always increase or decrease the number of letters based on your students) for the whole week. I also write their focus letter/sounds on a page that for a home connection, like this:
I assess students on a weekly basis, I do this for consistency. I create a list of students I am going to assess each day, and then that is their designated day. Here’s an example of my schedule (it says Sight Word Assessment… but I do Letter/Sound Assessment first, then transition to my Sight Word Assessment when the student is ready – aka they know all their letters & sounds!) Fair Warning: This schedule was when I had 36 students in my classroom… and the colors of the students names were based on what Reading Group they were currently in – that way I could pull them during their Reading Group time OR during another free minute I had during the day… some times I didn’t get to pull them until Play Time at the end of the day, but I made sure to pull them at some point!
Having this consistency allows parents to anticipate when they will be receiving this home connection, and they know when their little one will be assessed on the material again. This creates a strong routine with families! It’s important to start this routine with families early, so that when the student moves onto the harder: Sight Words, the routine is already set in place and its easier to maintain!
At home I suggest students & families play games, eye-spy, letter search in a magazine, and other activities to help their little ones learn the letter/sounds they are focusing (while still practicing the other letter/sounds they have already “mastered”). Keeping it FUN is the key for family & student success!
A great way for students to practice seeing and reading the letter/sounds they are missing are within a text. You can find my ABC Easy Readers post and product, or my ABC Sight Word Readers product or if you are interested in both, I have a bundle pack available too.
While in class we play multiple games that I’ve created to help with those letter/sounds that they are missing. You can check out that product here.