All aboard at the Motivation Istation!

Today’s Contributor: Danielle Bryant

I am the fifth grade lead at Widen Elementary. I also currently work as our CIC, SEL Campus Facilitator, our CLI Ambassador, and am in graduate school at Texas State. I love being able to work in so many leadership roles because it gives me a full picture of all district initiatives! As the CIC I am working to align the initiatives such as incorporating online platforms to build SEL capacity on campus and, in my own classroom, teach the ways our online personalities translate to the real world. When I am not busy with all of these roles I spend most of my free time running around Austin music venues and testing out the latest face masks!

Okay guys, raise your hand if you have had students roll their eyes, cover their faces, or have a full meltdown because of the monthly ISIP testing? If you could see me I have both hands high in the air! This is because the monthly assessment is repetitive, difficult, and students don’t understand their scores. When I realized that I could not change the repetition or difficultly I opted for understanding. I began by holding a SMART goal setting session with my students, looking at the different ISIP components, and explain what those pesky little green bars meant!


Here’s how I did it:

  1. I showed my entire class the Flocabulary video about SMART goals. They immediately understood that they needed to be self-reflective, but also push themselves! With the help of my admin I created individual goal setting folders and was able to sit down one-on-one with my students to conference regarding their goals.
  2. I explained the four sections of each ISIP assessment. I had NO idea how confused they were regarding the actual assessment components. As a whole class we discussed how part 1 was vocabulary, part 2 was spelling, part 3 was comprehension, and part 4 was fluency. They realized after our mini-lesson that they knew what was being assessed but not in the context of our reading lessons. This connection allowed for students to see how they had tools and resources in the room to help them.
  3. INCENTIVES!!! My campus has a school-wide incentive program in which students are given tickets and can use the tickets to buy games at lunch (If you have questions about this process please let me know!). For every part of the assessment a student’s score improves they receive a ticket and if they improve on all four parts they receive two bonus tickets. Students LOVE earning these tickets so this piece was key.
  4. Allow for a do-over! Today if you walk into my classroom on an ISIP assessment day you will hear students shouting three things: 1) “Miss, look at my bars!!!” This is because they improved on a specific sections. 2) “Can you please reset ___ section?” This is because they know they didn’t improve based on the green bars after the section. And finally, 3) “What was my score?!” These responses are so much more student driven and allow for such higher levels of autonomy than before! When I hear these questions and exclamations I know that my students are taking ownership over their performance.


Through this I saw major breakthroughs with my monthly assessment scores and with overall pride performance. Does an ISIP overall score tell the full picture of every reader in your classroom? No. However, often our students do not perform well and we subconsciously form opinions regarding their skills and abilities. Therefore, by ensuring students are demonstrating the best of their abilities we can create a clearer image of where students are growing and where they are struggling and we can use this information to create a classroom environment that is truly meeting the needs of all students.


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