Blasting Off With Reading Plans that Match Your Readers

16 August 2015 / Leave a Comment

Another year has come (much quicker than most would like), and it is most definitely blasting off. You've probably had a whirlwind of meetings, and students have either come or are coming soon. You've probably been hearing about this year's buzzwords... PLCs, RTI, the Flipped Classroom, Responsive Classrooms, PBIS, and more acronyms than I can remember, but you WILL be ready for them when they come.  We may work all weekend to prep, but by the first Monday, we will be ready to roll. 

For today's post, I thought I'd share some of the assessments my school gives and some of the forms we've used.  Many of my blog readers are reading specialists or classroom teachers who are very interested in reading instruction, and I think you'll find these forms helpful when you are working with guided reading groups or tutoring situations.  

Word Journeys: Assessment-Guided Phonics, Spelling, and Vocabulary InstructionNext week, as our new students get acclimated to the school and everyone works to establish the norms for their classrooms, one assessment that's easy to administer, but very informative is the Developmental Spelling Assessment (DSA).  We give the Screening and Feature tests that anticipate will hit the grade level needs  This will tell us the spelling stage each child is at (which is important as that shows you the child's understanding of phonics rules and strengths with decoding).  These are administered whole group and take about an hour total.  Once scored, the classroom teacher can group students for appropriate spelling/vocabulary instruction.  
Once these are completed, we also give the graded word list and running records to any students the classroom teachers feel may need extra support.  (maybe the 2nd-3rd day of school).  We have chosen to use Fountas and Pinnell since we have it in our building (to go with the Leveled Literacy Intervention program), but some schools prefer DRA or Dibels.  Regardless what you choose, it does help in identifying strengths and weaknesses, and by the time this is completed, we'll also have a writing sample or two. These three pieces really help teachers know exactly where to begin with instructing kids. 

One form I use at the beginning of the year is this Reading Behavior Checklist. This would be completed after observing a student in small group or paired reading.  I like using it to help me hone in on specific reading behaviors when I'm planning and to use as talking points when I meet with parents.  It can be completed at the beginning, middle, and end of the year to show progress, but if shared with the parent, it may provide them with pointers on what to work on at home too. 
The second form I thought I'd share are conferencing labels I developed to use as the year progresses.  I was able to meet and hear Donalyn Miller last spring at the Virginia State Reading Conference, and luckily, I had read both of her books, The Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild prior.  Let's just say that I was so inspired by her stories and thoughts that when it came time for her presentation, I felt like a total stalker.  I marched right up to the front with my blogging buddy, Andrea from Reading Toward the Stars so we could get our books autographed and actually talk to her. She was amazing as I knew she would be, and I came back to my classroom ready to begin conferencing with my students.  I put together a printable conferencing form that can be kept in a notebook.  I also made labels (Avery 5164) that can be printed and ready which I can use with the student, peel off, and keep in their folders for ongoing monitoring.  

If you are a primary teacher, you might be able to use these as your students are developing skills, but I imagine most kindergarten teachers would find these fairly useless.  Alas, I have something to share with you.  Last week, we (the kindergarten teachers and I) were trying to pin down a screening assessment we could give to our kinders to help identify those who will need help at the beginning. We wanted something brief that aligned with the needs in the classroom, and this assessment from Tara Darwish fit our needs beautifully.  It includes upper and lower case letters, letter sounds, numbers 1-10, shapes, colors, and we are having the children write their name. Check it out if you're looking for a great tool to use first semester.

I hope that these tools are helpful to you.  If you decide you want to use the DSA this year for progress monitoring with word study, I did put together an assessment packet that includes the forms I use, classroom grouping form, and additional word lists for each stage that can be used throughout the year. It is on sale with the rest of my store (20% off)

$2.40 for today only
I hope you have a high flyin' year and that your kids blast off with all the learning they will do with you.  Have a great year!


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