Planning, Preparation, Instruction, and Assessment
Natalie King
Regent University
October 9th, 2016



Planning and Preparation are the two key elements of a teacher’s instruction. In order to
write lessons and figure out what and how to teach the content matter at hand, teachers need to
know where their students are. Preassessment is a crucial first step that needs to be taken, for
without knowing where my students are I would not be able to effectively teach. Through the use
of various preassessment strategies a teacher can begin to plan and prepare their instruction,
ultimately working towards the final performance task: the assessment. Although ‘teaching to the
test’ is not the mentality to have, it is important that all instruction is centered on the skills and
knowledge needed to succeed. Assessment and instruction truly go hand-in-hand and should be
thought of as one entity.
Rationale for Selection of Artifacts
The first artifact I included was the preassessment I gave to my students on single step
word problems, which is Virginia Beach standard MA 5.2.3 and Virginia SOL 5.4. This
worksheet had one addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division word problem and students
were tasked to solve each problem. For the most part students did very well on the addition and
subtraction problems and struggled with the multiplication and division word problems. For
example, the student whose paper I included had no idea how to solve the division problem and
was plugging in numbers until he came up with the correct answer. This brings me to my second
artifact which is an analysis on how students did on the preassessment. That data helped me plan
out my instruction for the following week as I was able to group students according to their
performance. These groups allowed me to provide differentiated instruction to those groups. I
had one group that consisted for four girls who completed all four of the problems correctly on
the preassessment. Since they already showed me they knew the material I am challenged them



with harder problems as well as more problems. Instead of working with one to four digit
numbers we worked with larger numbers that required more critical thinking skills. In my other
four groups I gave each group progressively easier problems to work through. In my two lowest
groups we worked step by step through the multiplication and division problems as these were
the students that needed the most direct instruction.
The third and fourth artifacts that I chose to include are the final assessment that students
took on single step problems as well as an analysis of the student’s performance after my
instruction. Most students really just needed a refresher on how to multiply and divide two digit
numbers, so much of the instruction I provided during this unit centered on these two skills. After
working in small groups of 5 students for a couple of days I changed my instruction to
conferencing with individual students, providing them with one-in-one differentiated problems as
well as working through their online math classwork with them. Overall the students did preform
much better on the final assessment. Only 7 students received a DP, but every student did better
than their preassessment score; several students even received APs. I was very proud of my
students. They worked very hard to improve their scores and increase their understanding, and I
too worked very hard to create instruction that impacted their learning.
Reflection on Theory and Practice
During my time at Regent University many of my classes discussed the importance of
preassessment, instruction, and assessment techniques. In particular in my curriculum and design
class we discussed and learned about the backwards design strategy. This strategy places the end
results of where students need to be at the forefront of lesson planning. When planning with this
strategy teachers first identify where students need to be after the final assessment or project and
then work backwards creating the specific daily activities they will present to the class (Wiggins



& McTighe, 2005). Ever since learning this strategy I have used it numerous times, especially
during my student teaching as I was planning out whole math and science units.
Before being able to plan out a unit a teacher must know what his or her students already
know. Preassessment is a crucial part of any planning and instruction, as it provides teachers with
a starting point. It allows teachers know whether or not they can quickly review certain skills or
whether they need to reteach an entire concept to a few select students (Wagner, 2015). My
philosophy on instruction truly centers on the individual student, and in order for me to provide
individual instruction I must know where my students are at academically. There are many ways
to pre-assess students, such as giving students a worksheet, exit ticket, or test or by just taking
anecdotal notes as the students are working (Rutherford, 2008). The main goal when preassessing students to see what they already know and what they need help with; this information
is vital in creating meaningful lessons and activities. Although I provided a sample of a
preassessment worksheet, I used a variety of pre-assessing strategies during my two placements.
These strategies included taking notes as I worked with students in small reading and math
groups, taking notes as students verbally answer questions, or having students use dry erase
boards to answer questions. I do not want to define students’ knowledge of a subject off one
piece of evidence. Sometimes students are having bad days and have a lot on their mind, I know
I have had plenty of them, and that will affect how they perform. Even though a preassessment
should be used a starting point, instruction needs to be constantly adjusted for changes in
students understanding. This means assessment goes much farther than just one pre- and postassessment.
Once a teacher has preassessed their students, they can begin to plan out their lessons and
daily activities. As I planned out my units I quickly realized that although some activities sound



fun and would be ‘cool’ they weren’t providing my students with anything useful. In one of my
textbooks I read that teachers often focus too much on what they’ll be using, such as fun
materials and lessons they find from other teachers, rather than focus on what actually matters:
enduring understandings and skills (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005). The first thing that should be
considered when planning instruction is the enduring understandings and skills students need to
be able to know at the conclusion of the unit. On the flipside to not getting caught up in ‘cool’
activities coverage is not an effective instructional strategy either. Coverage is when teachers
lecture on material and end up rushing through the content, leaving students even more confused
than they originally were (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005). I am a firm believer that students need
instruction that is tailored to each student’s particular needs. Differentiated instruction was a
topic that we dealt with heavily during my time at Regent and I have learned a lot on practical
experience from my two placements. I constantly found myself stopping and readjusting my
lesson plans to meet the needs of my students. I also found myself creating multiple versions on
the same content, both trying to challenge my higher students and remediate my lower students.
No teacher is doing their job effectively if they only plan once and never stop to check where
their students are and adjust their instruction accordingly.
Finally assessment can be a very scary word to many students, but it really shouldn’t be
one. I strongly believe that, “… assessment should not be a one-shot, do-or-die undertaking for
students” (Rutherford, 2008). As a stated earlier sometimes students have a very rough day and
do very poorly on a test even though they really know the information, other times students don’t
study and are simply just not prepared. In either case it’s important that teachers provide
feedback to that student and allow the child to have another chance, re-teaching the subject
matter along the way (Rutherford, 2008). In some instances re-teaching and re-testing isn’t an



option, but those instances should be few and far between. One thing that I learned during my
two placements is that if I spent time planning quality instruction I rarely had to reteach and
reassess my students. The more effort teachers put into preassessing and planning their lessons,
the less time they will spend administering assessments later on. One way to also ensure this is
to be upfront with students with their performance expectations. Rutherford states that, “Prior to
giving an assessment to students, the teacher should be public about how the students will be
assessed …” (Rutherford, 2008). This means that students should be told exactly what is on the
test prior to them seeing it for the first time. My first cooperating teacher was very adamant on
this idea; she always read over the test with students as well as told students exactly what
information they needed to study and how she would like their answer in order to receive an AP,
which was the highest grade. Although it may seem like they are being too much information, it
actually isn’t. Some students need to have the assessment read to them and be directed in how
they should answer because their minds are just all over the place; they need a sense of focus.
In the end, planning and preparation are the most crucial aspects to every teacher’s lesson
and unit plans. Without the information that preassessment provide, valuable time would be lost
on teaching material that students have already mastered and taking away instructional time from
skills that really need to be taught. Instruction and assessment truly do go hand-in-hand as
instruction should be prepping students for the end assignments teachers have in mind, whether
that be a traditional paper assessment or a performance task assessment. Creating the assessment
first and working backwards ensures that students will succeed and will master all the skills
required of them by the end of the unit.



Rutherford, P. (2008). Instruction for All Students (2nd ed.). Alexandria , Virginia: Just Ask.
Retrieved October 7, 2016
Wagner, S. (2015, march 3). Importance of Pre-Assessment. Retrieved October 7, 2016, from
Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by Design (2nd ed.). Columbus: Pearson.
Retrieved October 7, 2016