Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Child's Reading Level - Part 2

So you assessed your students and you know the level each child is reading at... what do you do now?

Understanding the Reading Level
Most school districts will provide you with the grade level expectancy for beginning, middle, and end of the school year for formal reading assessments such as the DRA or Fountas and Pinnell.  Once you obtain that information, you can begin to see which students are at, above, and below benchmark.
This product can be purchased HERE
I love this product because I can quickly access what characteristics a reader should exhibit for each reading level.  Although running records help me determine when a child should move reading levels, this can be used when you need to see a breakdown of each reading level.

What do I do with this information? 
 I create a document with 4 columns: student's name, special services (IEP, ELL, etc) reading level, and notes.   In the notes column I add specific areas they need work on such as decoding, sight word recognition, applying strategies, or comprehension.

Once I type in the information, I color code student names so I can quickly glance to see where students are at.
Blue = above grade level
Green = at grade level
Yellow = approaching grade level (borderline)
Red = below grade level

How do I plan for instruction?
Keep in mind, reading groups fluctuate and changes should be made at any point in the school year, not just when the DRA is given.  Since you have new information about each child, make sure they are placed in the appropriate group.

I use the comprehension sticks and have students pick a question to answer.  Students enjoy picking their own question.

These cards have questions for before, during, and after reading.    

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The key is to examine any gaps.  Whatever area a child needs to work on, provide extra practice with word work, comprehension, or guided writing activities.   Regardless of how your class scored on the mid-year benchmark, it is never to late to make an instructional change to help your students grow.

I am SO grateful that my school offered to buy a copy of Jennifer Serravallo's book, The Reading Strategies Book.  If you are in need of strategies to uses for a student or reading group, I strongly recommend her book.  The structure of the book is easy to follow along with and find goals, strategies or anchor charts based on a reading level.

Monday, January 2, 2017

A Child's Reading Level -- Part 1

Last October I read an article by Fountas and Pinnell.  It was one of those articles that made me want to shout YES YES YES as I read it.  By far, it was my favorite professional read from 2016 because of the authenticity and transparency.  All lead learners and teachers need to read the article titled: A Level is a Teacher's Tool, NOT a Child's Label

My friend, Stacey Riedmiller, from Literacy for Big Kids created this image based off the post:
That statement is powerful.  Levels are meant to be a tool for teachers to plan and refine instruction.  Every grade level has a goal readers must reach by the end of the school year.   Kindergarten students in my county must read a level D by May.  By assessing students three times a year and completing informal assessments such as running records, teachers can gauge where each student is performing and plan for instruction accordingly.   

How do I inform parents?
I Read with My Teacher Today -- sent home every 2 weeks per student.  There are various versions of this sheet for decoding and comprehension.  At this point in the school year most of my students are focusing on decoding with the exception of one reading group.  I like sending home this sheet because it helps illustrate to parents what specific skill their child will continue to work on.  
Purchase HERE (product not created by me)

When I return from winter break, we begin mid year testing for DIBELS and TRC (similar to F & P or DRA).  Although there can be pressure associated with the results of this assessment, keep in mind this is to inform you where each child is performing and specific skills to focus on in relation to comprehension, fluency, or accuracy.   There is so much more to know than the actual level the child is reading at.

Book Choice
As stated by Franki Sibberson, "Choice is choice.  Choice is not within a leveled basket or choice limited to a Lexile range."

Classroom libraries may look different depending on the grade level you teach and what your district or school requires.  I am required to have a leveled library since my county uses the Daily 5 structure.  Instead of placing all emphasis on choosing books from a leveled book bin, I model to students HOW to select  the right fit books, which is a lifelong skill.  Every week students pick 2 books from their bin in addition to 3 picture books from the books I provide.      

My goal as a classroom teacher is to model a love for reading.  As an adult if someone told you your book choice is limited to a specific bin, would you want to continue reading for pleasure?  Probably not.  In addition, I want to maintain a classroom community, not create competition within students or make students doubt themselves.  

My next post will be devoted towards planning instruction for your growing readers.

Sunday, January 1, 2017


Each member of #CompelledTribe is publishing a post about their one word for 2017.  Before moving on to 2017, I reflected on 2016 for the past week (#oneword2016 was mindset). 2016 was the toughest year for me personally.  For months I felt there was no light at the end of the tunnel.  I had 0 control over what was going on and I am 2 plane rides away from family.  My mindset guided me to find joy in the little things and have faith that the gift of time would make things better -- and it did.  I learned how strong and resilient I am, which makes me even more eager for 2017.

Big takeaways from 2016:
  • In May I started my masters degree in Literacy.  I am officially halfway done!
  • Began my 2nd year living in North Carolina.
  • Traveled to Hilton Head Island, Asheville, North Myrtle Beach, Cabo San Lucas, Savannah, Charleston and home to Ohio.  Can you tell traveling is a hobby of mine?
  • Went to a co-workers wedding.

Moving forward, my #oneword2017 is gratitude.

Gratitude in 2017
  • Complete the remaining coursework for my masters degree. and graduate in December.  Although full time teaching and working on coursework is a lot to balance, I choose to be grateful that I have the opportunity to study a topic I am so passionate about.
  • Being a member of #CompelledTribe-- members take the time to listen to me, stretch my thinking, provide feedback, and are truly positive leaders.  I am lucky to learn from them.
  • Family.  Although being 2 plane rides away from family comes with challenges, I continue to enjoy any time we can spend together.
  • Friends.  2016 was the year my friends showed me how much they were there for me.  I couldn't be more thankful to those that never left my side, checked in on me, and reminded me to stay strong.  In 2017, I will continue to show gratitude to my friends and make more memories.
  • Students.  As I gain years of teaching experience, I love watching my students grow and continue to maintain connection.  I strive to have fun and continue to do what is best for my students.
2017-- let's make it great!