Five falls ago our District rolled-out Common Assessments to all fifteen (14 at the time) of our elementary schools and included accompanying scantrons sheets with each one. Initially, our 1st grade bubble-sheet learning curve was significant. Finally, firmly in the second semester, we’ve learned how to make scantrons work in our primary classroom. Here is how our 1st grade team streamlined and refined the scantron-filling process.
Why Are We Using Scantrons in 1st Grade?
Before we start, I’m going to throw something out there. Our District requires 8 common assessments (total) for 1st grade students throughout the year. Regardless of the appropriateness of scantrons for six-year olds, as a teacher in my District, I give these assessments. This post is not and will not become a scantron debate; rather, I want to share how I make Scantrons work in my first-grade classroom.What do scantrons provide us?
- District Coaches and Leadership: data about learning, patterns between schools, information to help consider future professional learning
- School leaders: data about student learning between classrooms, information to consider future professional learning, as well as, what support is need within the building, information to help facilitate guided planning and PLCs
- Teachers: information about student learning (What was learned vs. what was taught), opportunities to ask teammates how their students performed on similar tasks (How did you approach this? What strategies did you highlight for students? etc)
The First Introduction
First introducing the bubble answer sheets, I wanted it to be an incredibly positive and informal experience. Using PowerPoint, I created a 5-question quiz about myself. From my favorite candy to my favorite things to say, it was FUN!
- What is Ms. W’s middle name?
- Which is the name of Ms. W’s favorite plant?
- Does Ms. W prefer Diet Coke or water?
- How many snacks does Ms. W eat in a day?
- What did Ms. W’s mom call her when she was little?
I just wanted students to practice pointing to their name (to ensure it was their scantron), finding each number as we answered the question, and bubbling in their answers. (You can snag the Slides I used for free here.)
Throughout the whole experience, we chanted and did a lot of call and responding.
- Teacher: Number 1 Students: is right here! (finger pointing)
- Teacher: I see A, B, C Students: I see A, B, C.
- Teacher: Make my marks… Students: Heavy and dark.
- Teacher and Students: Trace the circle. Color it in.
A Whole-Class Alternative
While I often give my post-assessments in small groups (during guided reading or guided math), sometimes this isn’t possible. On those occasions when small-group assessment doesn’t work, I need results quickly, or don’t want to copy 23 sets of a test, our 1st grade team has found that placing the questions on Google Slides to be really successful. Students can work-out any problems on their desks with dry-erase markers and it’s easy to check that everyone is on the same problem.
Tracking the Number
One of the most difficult parts of recording our answers on Scantrons has been tracking our answers – ensuring our answer for Number 3 is actually bubbled-in on Number 3. After students have answered every question on their paper copy of the test, I will give them their bubble sheet for recording their answers. We’ve tried answering the questions and bubbling the answers at the same time, but it hasn’t been a very successful venture.
Using post-it notes has been a key factor in making scantrons work. Most importantly, 1st graders LOVE post-its and they love working for their post-it. As students record their answers they get to stick, peel, and re-stick their post-its…over and over and over again. It’s exciting stuff, friends! Secondly, when students are finished with their post-it, they are able to HAVE the post-it note for their book bin. #ohmygoodness
Our District/school has a license to GradeCam, so we print and use scantrons from this website. Our class rosters are in the system and each scantron is printed with each student’s name and ID number, as well as, the name of the assessment for easy organization. If you are interested in trying out scantrons, Grade Cam offers most of its features with a free account. There is even an app for on-the-go scoring!
You might also want to check-out the Zip Grade app (a year of unlimited use is $6.99). I used this in 5th grade when our school did not have a Grade Cam license. Zip Grade allows you to upload class lists, answer sheets, and see live instant data.
Now, do scantrons actually save time in 1st grade? Realistically, not a whole lot. It does take time and a clear system. Yet, the scantrons do provide important information to our district and our team about patterns in student performance that allow us to better plan and collaborate.
Do you use scantrons in your classroom? Do you have any tips for making them more manageable? If so, I’d love to hear your ideas!
Join me for weekly classroom updates and free resources that are just-right for your guided math classroom!