This year will be the first year I give spelling pretests on Monday so I can accommodate the needs of the gifted learners.
For those of you who do a Monday pretest, do you have the kids grade them, do they switch papers and grade that way, or do you grade them yourself? I'd really rather not add another assignment that needs to be graded, kwim?
I gave the test orally. Then I posted the correct list on the board and had kids switch papers with a neighbor. They had to write each missed word 3 times correctly in cursive and turn it in as an assignment. It was easy for me to quickly spot check papers to make sure they caught all errors. After finding so many papers with overlooked errors, I changed my policy to 5 times each if I catch any mistakes. That helped them edit their neighbor's paper more carefully. Kids got an extension list if they missed fewer than 2 (90%).
I give the pretest and then we check it as a class. I have the students trade papers. All missed words are written onto their weekly spelling sheet. (there are 16 blank lines for them to write them in) If there are any blank lines left they can choose words from my challenge list I create each week. I only give about ten words then if they still have blanks they then just choose a few words from the pretest that they got right so the list is not too hard. These challenge words are from lists I have found in upper grades and internet searches that also follow the weekly spelling rule. Each student has a differentiated list. So on Friday the students pair up and exchange their list. Their partner then gives them their spelling test. I walk around and make sure it is going ok. Partners are very particular to be sure their person does not see the list. It works very well.
If the purpose of your pre-test is to differentiate for gifted learners, then there shouldn't be an "extension" for those who pass it... because they already know how to spell the words they get punished by having to learn more? I know what I'd do (being gifted myself) - if I'm going to have to take it again anyway.. I'd just miss three on purpose and avoid the extra list... duh!
Also, if you are doing it to replace the final spelling test (which is what should be done, and then give the students a different assignment to work on during spelling time, or allow them to do an independent study during that time), then you are violating their privacy by allowing other students to grade the test - students should never be allowed to grade something that will be a recorded grade.
I do differentiated spelling this way....I give the pretest right after the regular spelling test on Friday. They just do the pretest on the back of the paper. They are not hard to grade at all because I stop grading them when I reach 3 wrong. I usually only have between 3-5 kids who test out. I give spelling words out on Friday afternoon in the hopes that some of my weaker spellers will start studying them over the weekend (--at least I can say I try.)
My regular list of words is 20. My challenge list is 10--10 hard words, but only 10. There is major incentive to try for the challenge list because our homework involves writing them...3x on Monday (in ABC order) 2x on Tuesday in cursive, and sentences on Wednesday. My kids are smart enough to know that 10 words is a lot less HW than 20. My kids who pretest out of the regular "spelling rule" list work on greek and latin root words. I personally think that is lot more applicable as they get older than spelling rules which have way too many exceptions to be rules anyway (can you tell I was not taught phonics??) With the greek and latin root words, I can go a lot more in to the vocabulary aspect of it and they enjoy it! They do different activities with their words than the regular list kids and there is a sort of eliteness about being in the challenge group. I generally will a couple who make it every single week, but then about 8 or 9 who rotate in an out week by week depending on the spelling skill.
Have I had smart kids who failed the pretest on purpose? I am sure I have, but I've had just as many kids who I would never think would pass it work so hard to get to the challenge list. I make a big deal of "announcing" my super spellers (100% on the test) and my challenge list kids on Friday afternoons. Even your most jaded gifted kid wants that kind of recognition. I have never had a kid that I knew was capable of passing the pretest fail it week after week.
My kids grade each others work all the time. My opinion is that it is all in how you handle it...If I have someone who makes a comment about another student's grade, I am sure to correct it. Before we switch papers the first couple of times in the year we discuss it. We are all a community of learners..here to support each other. It's just about building relationships. We talk about how it would feel if someone made fun of us for a low grade or teased us for being brainy. Once we get into the year and my class is close and treating each other with respect--it's not an issue. But then again, I do not teach in an area where grades are cut throat and everyone is trying to out do each other. Maybe it would be different there. For me, it's a major bonus and my kids get feedback on their work immediately. When I was in school that was so important to my learning. I needed to be able to see mistakes or validate my good feelings asap. There are lots of things that I grade, but they only get papers back 1x/week and I don't want the learning moment to pass. I don't want to grade a paper that we did on Tuesday on Saturday afternoon only to find out that Johnny really doesn't get long multiplication. Intervention is not as effective then. Or grade the paper on Saturday only to find that Suzy has been sitting in class bored for 4 days. I could grade all of my papers the same day, but then I'd have nothing to stop me from enjoying my weekends
I grade my own pretests on Monday. If the students do not miss any, they are a Super Speller. I give them a folder with alternate activities. Sometimes they choose the words and sometimes I have a list related to another subject. I think the list is in a book called "Teaching Gifted Kids in the Classroom".
I use a sheet that I fold into thirds. It has the list, pretest, and post test already printed. the kids cut off the post test after grading the pretests. after checking, they give back to me (we do pretests on fridays). I highlight 10 words (including a few they got correct) and these 10 are their words for the week. they practice with all 20 words though.
Super easy, just copied and pasted the tests and typed each word list. I give the words their way assessment the 2nd day of school to group my kids. Just b/c they are labeled gifted in reading do not mean they are gifted spellers so its important to get an idea of what features they already use correctly.
I give a spelling pretest on Wed. I add in five extra words as bonus words. They count for 1 point each. So if you get 95% on your test + the 5 bonus words that would be a 100%. Anyone can give the bonus words a try. But I encourage my better spellers to do the bonus words. I give the students these extra words on Monday with the regular words. I also shorten the spelling list for students who are having difficulty and add more words as their spelling skills increase to meet everyone's needs.
Oh and I do grade the pretest and the post test and I take the higher grade. Anyone who receives a 100% (or more because of bonus words) does not have to take the test on Friday. The bonus words are vocabulary words from what ever story we are reading in our Reading text (Houghton Mifflin).
My students grade their own pretests. I walk around the class to check on their progress. For those students who scored 100, I hand them the advanced spelling list that comes with the series. (Some of the words are the same with some added challenge words.) I have activities for them to do during the week--word search, crossword puzzle, unscramble, and word shapes. I have had a student who was very challenged by spelling. I gave him the "approaching" list and modified it by limiting the number of words for the week.
After I have seen all the students, they have gone on to an activity that is on the back of the pretest--from their workbook. That keeps them busy until it is time to go on. They take their pretest home so they have their list of words for homework. This year I will also have them write their words into a "Spelling Book." This will be a marble composition book. They will be able to do their homework in the book and have their words at all times--no excuses. I vary the spelling homework activity throughout the year. Monday and Thursday are Spelling HW days.
Like iteachu42 said, I'll be giving the kids alternate assignments, most of which I got from the Susan Winebrenner (sp?) book on teaching gifted kids in the regular classroom.
Winebrenner's style involves letting the kids do the alternate assignments if they get 90% or better on the pretest. On a test of 20, that's just 2. So I figure it's going to take no time at all to eyeball the pretests. The ones who get 90% or better will be counted as the grade, and I agree with yesteach that you shouldn't have other kids grade a test that will be counted.
I am going to give the pretest on Friday, though, giving me time to get this done before Monday so I can have the kids identified by Monday morning spelling class.