In this post I welcome James Mansell, a fellow primary school teacher here in the UK, who explains about a wonderful resource he has created and brought to my attention that addresses the use of APP in school.
APP or Assessing Pupils’ Progress is the new (?) national approach in the UK to understanding children’s learning needs. There has been a whole heap of related links and materials released through the Primary Strategy site and no doubt if you are Literacy or Numeracy coordinator you will be (or have already) attending training in the UK. I will let James introduce himself further and explain more.
My name is James Mansell, and I work at Earl Soham Community Primary School in Suffolk. We are a small rural school with just three classes. I am currently teaching Years 4/5/6. I have been using Google Docs for my own planning for about a year and a half now. I have found the flexibility of being able to access my plans from anywhere, and link to resources from them, has made my job easier and helped me to be more organised, as I no longer get to school and realise I’ve forgotten to transfer my plans to my memory stick or left them lying on the table at home! In the last year, I have also begun using Google spreadsheets to keep an assessment record. This again has meant that I can access and add to assessment files without the need for carrying bulky box files between home and school.
With the advent of the new APP materials from the Primary Frameworks for Literacy and Numeracy, I wanted to stick with my new paper-free way of working, but was unable to find an easy solution as the APP guidelines were only produced as PDF’s (ideal for printing, but not much good for working with online). So I decided that I would need to spend a bit of time taking the guidelines and turning them into something that I can use in Google Docs. After much copying, pasting, and reformatting the result is a spreadsheet which contains all of the Maths, Reading and Writing APP Guidelines currently available (Levels 2-5). Each Guideline is set out in the same way as the original PDFs, each taking a different sheet in the spreadsheet, but with two important differences: they are now editable and stored online.
There are a number of ways that the materials could be used, but this is how I intend to use them:
As APP is designed to be used with a sample of six children from across a range of abilities, I intend to select my six pupils and create six copies of the APP Guidelines, with the filename as the child’s name. I will then select the appropriate guideline sheets for each pupil and delete any unnecessary sheets (cutting the number of sheets by a third). Whenever I wish to make an assessment, I can highlight the appropriate statements in the grid, by changing the cell colour, and use the comment feature to reference any evidence I have used in making my judgement. It is then a simple matter of entering a Y or N in the appropriate box to show whether they have reached a particular level. If used with a class laptop, comments could even be made during a lesson when working with a small group or individual child, so that a bank of evidence is built up to support the assessments.
I hope that other teachers find this resource useful, and if you have any ideas for how it could be improved, please feel free to contact me. mr.mansell+app (at) gmail.com
I am sure you will join me in thanking James for the hours of work that has gone into the APP Document and for being willing to share it to help other teachers. Please let us know if you find it useful.