During the first two weeks of school, I have observed my students closely during independent reading. Signs of successful student reading are: consistently have a book, read during reading times, take their book home and bring it back, and can tell you about it when you confer with them. Signs that students are not matched properly to books are: looking around during reading, talking and disrupting themselves and others around them, forgetting to take book home or to bring it back, can't tell you what is going on in the story.
I have used my time noticing what kids need more help and pulled up to three at a time to suggest alternate titles. I still have much work to do in this area- specifically encouraging and coaching students into books they will enjoy. Videoing kids reading to me to they can see the difference between when they are reading with enjoyment and comprehension and when they are not- is on my to do list. But for now, I wanted to get an idea of students envisioning and predicting skills in a M level text- I used a M level for several reasons. First of all, the assessment was already made and available to me on the Teacher College website. Secondly, I felt the majority of students could handle this level of text, although I have a bulk of students who have slid back to level M over the summer months, so this skill will be a challenge for them due to the fact that they are not reading closely or monitoring their reading for comprehension.
After analyzing the students' answers I immediately knew what was making this passage difficult for students- lack of background knowledge, unable to picture where the story was taking place, content vocabulary related to a basketball game. Knowing this informs my teaching and conferring with these students in the future. The ability to envision is dependent on understanding the key vocabulary and nuances of language. I ask simple questions when conferring with a reader: WHO? WHERE? WHAT? These three questions let me and the student know right away if they are reading for understanding and meaning. If they are not, I can either build their background knowledge via google images, or have them pick a less complicated book, if it is way out of reach.
Today I didn't start with a min-ilesson, but instead with a formative assessment. I passed out an excerpt (one at level k and one at level M) and asked them to read silently and answers the questions that followed each section of text. I have 5 readers out of 27 who are not yet at the end of second grade reading level. I gave them the level K - first grade level assessment. Students worked independently for about 30 mins. If students are unable to complete the assessment, they will have the opportunity to continue working on it the following day.
During the first month of school I assess my students' reading level using the Teacher's College Leveled reading assessments. In the hallway I have a chart of grade levels and benchmark reading levels. Students know their of their level and this helps them pick books that they can read independently.
When students are significantly below grade level it can be tricky to navigate both for the teacher and for students. Here is what I do to support readers who are below grade level. First I get to know the student as a reader. I listen to them read, watch them during reading, pay attention to the kinds of books they are picking, this gives me a lot of information about them and about roadblocks to their success.
Sometimes kids struggle because they do not read enough- they can read but they haven't really found the series or genre that makes it a worthwhile use of their time. They are the kind of kid who is super active and like to be living life directly- not through the lives of characters or learning about snakes by reading about them- they want to be in the garden finding a snake! They need to develop their envisioning skills so they can really feel and experience the text directly. This problem is the easiest to support and repair. I enlist the help of the parents and make sure they know that their child needs to read every night for at least 30-60 minutes and fill out a reading log. Then I have to expose this reader to books and series that they might enjoy based on their interests and personality. I have found that this is not enough- the student needs lots of structures in place to help them enjoy reading and hold them accountable. Meeting with the teacher regularly to share what they are reading, working with another adult, giving them opportunities to lead a book talk on their book, incentives for completing books.
In the coming lessons I will describe different kinds of readers, what they struggle with, and strategies that work with them.
This assessment was not timed. Students were given more time on the following day if they needed it. As I read students' responses I basically had two groups of students. Those who read closely, and were able to get an accurate sense of what was going on in the text by synthesizing across the text. The second group of students responded only to the most concrete details in the passage and comprehended at a literal level. Overall they misunderstood what the passage was about and didn't revise their earlier ideas after reading more passages in the excerpt that provided more details.
This was especially true for my English Language Learners and Special Education Students, as well as for a few of my students who do not enjoy reading. They skipped over important information because the words or phrases didn't mean anything to them. Please look at the student A's written response.
You'll see in answer one, he mentioned that her throat hurt from cheering and that she yelled "Yes" because the Hawks had one. What he didn't write was that Abby was a middle schooler and a player on the basketball team. In his second answer about what more had he learned about Abby he said that her brother teased her because she is a cheerleader in a basketball uniform. He didn't connect to the first two sentences of the paragraph.
Student B did the same thing in her original answers. I happened to see her answers and knew that the phase "leaping from the bench" probably didn't mean to much to her. During the assessment I brought her to my computer and quickly googled basketball players sitting on a bench images. Then I told her I wanted her to picture Abby as a middle school basketball player. After this two minute intervention this student went on to read the read of the excerpt and understand it.