Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Monitoring Self-Portrait & Name Writing Progress for Pre-K Students

First, I would like to thank you all for the amazing response to last week's post, my classroom virtual tour.  I must say I have been incredibly humbled and appreciative of the kind feedback.  Hearing how you plan to use my ideas in your own classrooms makes all my efforts worthwhile.  There are a lot of great teachers out there and it's been wonderful to hear from you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!! 

And now for my apologies....between my 6 year-old’s birthday celebration and presenting at the State Speech and Hearing Conference, last week really got away from me.  No regrets though!  You only celebrate a sixth birthday once and the KSHA conference was outstanding.  I was honored to be invited to present and meet so many passionate SLPs. 

That said, like many working mothers out there, I over committed last week.  Frankly, six years into this dual mother/teacher role, I still struggle to find balance between my professional passions and family commitments. As a result, my plans for this week's post have changed.  I had planned to share how direct instruction is set up and operates in my classroom. 

Instead, this week I will share a simpler (less time-consuming) tip I discovered while monitoring and managing progress of student's self-portrait drawings.  As you may remember, last winter I shared how we break up drawing ourselves into steps via a visual task analysis Essentially, we have the students draw themselves each month and track their progress by hanging the drawings in page protectors above our library center.  By adding a signature box on the self-portrait template, you can also use this strategy to track progress of name writing.  

Teacher's Template:  You can access my self-portrait template here.  The smiley face inside the signature box is a visual to help the kids know where to start printing their name.  This feature came from Handwriting without Tears.  (Note: In the examples below, I have cropped out the children’s names.)

Here's the update I made this year.  Before I ask the students to draw a body part, I model it on my own paper.  Each body part is drawn in a different color, so we can accurately gage progress or share specific interpretations with parents and staff. I simply staple my copy to the back of the students' copy.  Take a look at the provided examples.

Even at the lowest student drawing level, do you see the resemblance between my model and the student's multi-colored model?? 

I used to have the students draw in one color and then write on their drawing the names of the each body part. That method took more time and didn't communicate each month's progress as effectively.

Last year's method
The new color-coded approach has worked much better.  As my students get better at drawing themselves, I will change it up and model drawing two or three body parts in one color. Then, I'll ask them to draw those two or three body parts all at once.  It will show their improvement in following two and three step directions, as well as monitor their drawing progress.  

Our ultimate goal is to have an adult draw an entire body self-portrait then have the students draw their own independently at their desks.  It may take quite some time to get to this point, but at least we can monitor their monthly progress.  As you all know, in this field it's important to celebrate the small steps! 

(Extra Credit: While drafting this post, I also realized you could use the same concept when the students practice writing their names by using a different color marker or pencil for each letter.)

Thanks for visiting this week.  Stay tuned for next week's post when I'll show you how we work on improving fine motor, attention, writing skills and so much more through direct instruction as I love the way it is set up this year and I think you'll enjoy it too!! 


  1. Love the idea of using different colors for different body parts!! genius!! :)

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