Okay..I know…it has been WAY to long since my last blog. Everything kind of got away from me. LOL. But this entry will make up for it!
Jennifer Serravallo just might be the sharpest tack on the planet right now. Everything she writes is unbelievably on the mark with everything teachers are needing in regards to supporting independent reading and conferring.
I can’t say enough about how thrilled I am to show you what I think the best thing out there for grades 2-5 (even middle school) in regards to assessing their independent reading needs and making sure they are in just right books in both fiction and non-fiction. I think the hardest thing for teachers isn’t so much deciding “what” to teach but the “how”. Strategies and skills are NOT the same thing. A skill is the ability to do something and a strategy includes steps that allow you know how to make it happen. I can NOT SAY ENOUGH GREAT THINGS about this! It will not only be a huge support for beginning teachers but also for teachers who have taught for years but feel like they need more clear strategies for teaching specific skills to readers. This assessment kit gets 5 STARS from me! Check this out!
This assessment kit is great for SO many reasons.
1. You don’t have to STOP instruction to administer it. Kids just independently read the books (which are regular trade books) during their independent reading time. They keep a reading record for the time they are reading. They stop and jot at designated points in the book marked by post-it notes and respond on record sheet. Fiction assessment reflects understanding of Plot/Setting, Character, Vocabulary/Figurative Language and Theme while the non-fiction reflects Main Idea, Key Details, Vocabulary and Text Features. Every text includes questions across the text in these areas. Here is a video and some pics and a download sample of the forms to help you see just how amazing this is for your classroom!!
2. Teachers will grow in their understanding about assessing reader’s written responses.
The continuum and reading progressions in the kit help teachers not only decide if the reader is exceptional, proficient or approaching in each area but also transfer that to help them assess readers written responses from read aloud jottings as well as independent reading jottings. This will help teachers not only decide about independent reading levels but also about how their readers are progressing in their texts for independent reading.
3. The assessment doesn’t only tell you what your kids independent reading level and what skills they need to be supported in but ALSO HOW to do it! This is what everyone wants…not just to find out the “what”, but the “how”. It is one thing to find out “Ok…this reader needs to work on character development” or even, “This reader needs to work on plot structure.” But to ALSO have a built in resource full of organized and specific strategies of HOW to teach that to a reader???? That is worth EVERY penny!!! These strategies will help teachers in conferences as well as small group instruction!
4. There is a website to enter data online as well as a dozen videos of of modeled lessons. Watching with real students is always a bonus for teachers. With this piece a teacher can watch videos many times to help them as they grow in the work.
What should we purchase???
I am recommending that principals buy 1 kit per teacher grades 2-5. If you want them to REALLY use it at their fingertips in their classrooms. This resource will be something teachers will use across the year to move readers rather than an assessment used only at beginning, middle and end of the year.
FYI: In the schools where we are trying these out kids are reading 1-2 levels below where Fountas and Pinnell, DRA or Teachers’s College assessments are showing them to be reading. This makes total sense due to the length of a chapter book and the expectation for readers to carry critical thinking across all of those pages. This is why this assessment was so very needed. I can’t wait to hear feedback on how you like it!!!