Let’s Start at the Very Beginning!

  Okay, so last week during one of my sleepless nights due to worrying about the unknowns of this upcoming year (What the heck is wrong with teachers? Why do we do this to ourselves?), I was lying in bed asking myself a million questions about the students I haven’t even met: “What do my students already know?”
”Should I even do that?”
”Will that be too hard for them?”
”Will that be too easy?”
“How will I document their data?”
”What if they don’t know that yet?”
”Where do I EVEN START?” And, that’s how the “Let’s Start at the Very Beginning” system was born! I wanted to create a simple data collection system to help me plan my instruction. I am a SUPER disorganized person, just ask any family member or close friend. So, this system had to be easy to manage and keep up with throughout the school year. Here’s what I came up with:


Rather than having many different data folders for one child like I have had in the past (I had a math folder, reading folder, writing folder, and student info. folder), I decided to scratch that idea and just have ONE folder with different pockets for ONE child. I know I’ll stay much more organized this way. I found these folders at Staples, but you can buy them online in bulk here. A small binder would work just as well. image


I labeled each pocket inside the folder. I’ll use the “Student Information” pocket for baseline testing, IEPs, and 504 plans and just any “getting to know you” info that I feel is important to hold onto. And, the “Additional Work Samples” pocket will be used for anything that my kids complete during morning work time or any homework samples that I want to hang onto.


I created  back-to-school reading and math checklists and made a section in the folder to hold those. These will help me TREMENDOUSLY during the first few weeks of school by giving me some insight on what my students know so that I can plan accordingly. These checklists were made with first graders in mind; however, they may be beneficial for some kindergarten and second grade students.



I also created phonics, writing, reading and math activity sheets that align with the checklists mentioned above.  I made these assessment sheets very kid-friendly. They align perfectly with the Common Core. These back to school assessment tools will act as perfect student work samples to share at parent-teacher conference time. I always LOVEseeing all of the progress my students make.


 Here are some additional photos of the activity sheets I created:     image

You can find this assessment tools packet in my TPT shop. It’s 20% off today and tomorrow! Click here or on the preview below to grab it.


How do you assess your students at the beginning of the year? Tell me about it in the comment section below! If you’re one of the first TWO to comment, you’ll get this packet for FREE!

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{ 27 comments… add one }
  • Haley July 15, 2013, 1:41 am

    Yeah!! I'm the first one! 🙂

    I love all of these assessments! That folder is genius!!!

  • miss m July 15, 2013, 1:48 am

    I LOVE all of your materials! Looks like another great pack!

    [email protected]

  • miss m July 15, 2013, 1:49 am

    OH – also, we use SO many forms of data collection at the start of the year…DIBELS, baseline testing…but I have not had a great way to organize it all…until NOW! This is so great!

    [email protected]

  • Jen Kroske July 15, 2013, 1:50 am

    This is going in my cart! We have student data notebooks so this would be perfect! The students use their folders during conference time with their parents.

    [email protected]

  • Jennifer Ross July 15, 2013, 1:53 am

    I LOVE it! I love organizing!!lol…I'm weird liek that…but I dont have a good way to organize data…lol!

  • Elisabeth July 15, 2013, 1:53 am

    I LOVE this pack!!! I'm moving to first this year. We do Dibels mClass assessments in reading but I'm adding this bad boy to my wish list!

    twins, teaching and tacos

  • Mikaela July 15, 2013, 1:54 am

    This looks great! I like the folders for each child too. Good idea!

  • Natalie Gragnani July 15, 2013, 1:54 am

    This seems like an excellent idea. I have never had a formal way to assess my students right at the beginning of the school year… it always takes a couple months to get into testing. I might have to try this out. Would have loved a free copy!

    Natalie Gragnani
    Sunny In Kindergarten.

  • Angie July 15, 2013, 1:56 am

    My district bombards students with formal assessments within the first 3 weeks of school (DRA-like kits, state math assessment, phonics screener, etc). Personally, I like to get to know my kids through talking, sharing, and the big showcase writing. I had a kiddo one year who would not talk, bombed those assessments above that were oral and then he went to write and spelled everything perfectly. He just needed a little warm up time to shine. I like your collection of showcasing data and would love a copy. Like you, I am NOT an organized person and with "data" becoming more and more valuable to teachers and those who watch over us…I know I need to become more organized.
    I hope you pick me.

    [email protected]

  • Special Teacher for Special Kids July 15, 2013, 1:57 am

    This is a great way to organize it. I teach k-3 special education and all the materials can be in one place for each grade!

    Thanks for sharing,
    [email protected]
    :o) V.
    Special Teacher for Special Kids

  • The Polished Teacher July 15, 2013, 2:07 am

    There you go! You've got me singing Do-Re-Mi all night long again! Love this pack! It is fabulous!

  • Stephanie July 15, 2013, 2:26 am

    This pack looks great. A great way to organize all of the information you collect for each student.


  • Tonya Shore July 15, 2013, 2:32 am

    I'm amazed at your skills. This looks wonderful.

    [email protected]

  • Comincioli July 15, 2013, 3:41 am

    This is such a great idea! Thank you so much for sharing!!


    Table Talk with C & C

  • vicky1970 July 15, 2013, 3:55 am

    Lynds —- This is perfect my friend…I love it!! Definitely going in my cart. That's too funny how we think about teaching 24/7 and dream about it too. :o)
    Traditions, Laughter and Happily Ever After

  • tara muro July 15, 2013, 4:10 am

    What great tools that you have created. Our district uses DIBELS as an entry level base assessment for first grade and each site uses many individual testing protocols. We do not have many math assessments at the beginning of the year, so these pages are great!
    🙂 Tara
    [email protected]

  • Becky July 15, 2013, 6:19 pm

    I love this idea! Just curious, how did you attach the cover to your folder?

    Lesson Plans & Lattes

  • Lauren July 16, 2013, 1:35 am

    I just found your blog and I LOVE your idea! I'm glad I'm not the only one having nightmares! Can't wait to use this.

    Go Fourth and Inspire

  • Starr Phippen July 16, 2013, 6:12 pm

    I love this idea. Thanks so much. Oh, and I found the 8 pocket folders for $1.80 each, free shipping at http://www.shoplet.com/Oxford-Elegant-Stripe-Eight-Pocket-Organizer/ESS99656/spdv

  • Mrs. Mariano July 17, 2013, 1:24 am

    What a great idea! Thanks for sharing!
    That First Grade Blog

  • A Sunny Day in First Grade July 17, 2013, 12:48 pm

    I've been up worrying {panicking?!) about school things too! We're moving to a new school and we don't know when we'll be able to get into our classrooms yet! Your assessments look super! I'm headed over to check them out!

    A Sunny Day in First Grade

  • Mrs. H July 28, 2013, 10:12 pm

    I love these forms! This is a perfect way to assess, yet make students feel comfortable showing you what they know during the first few days of school! Love it!

  • lowens July 31, 2013, 5:58 pm

    I would LOVE for you to make a 2nd grade DATA/ASSESSMENT pack! Wonderful work!

  • Ashley Moore August 8, 2013, 4:54 am

    I love this idea!!! You are amazing at what you do! Do you have plans to make a 2nd grade one?

  • Ann September 3, 2014, 2:31 am

    I love this idea! Can't wait to put it into place. Where can I find the Assessment Data cover page? Thanks!

  • Shawn August 3, 2017, 3:03 pm

    This is my first experience teaching special eduaducation, therefore I had to make some adjustments to my assessment procedures. I’ve been testing my students informally and taking notes and of course making other observations as I see them. This packet is a great resource and be of great value throughout the school year.