Showing posts with label assessment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label assessment. Show all posts

Planning A Summer Literacy Intervention Program: The Comprehension Component



Hello Friends! Tara here from Looney's Literacy. I'm so excited to share my Summer Intervention Program: The Comprehension Component with you all today.



 In a nutshell,  I designed the comprehension part of my program in four simple steps. This program is based off of my study of Wiggins and McTighe's Understanding by Design.
I established what my big ideas & goals were. As an interventionist I have a limited number of children. (This type of planning could be adapted to a whole class by applying the same principles and not so focused on one child's needs.) So each child has their own plan. I'm going to run you through one child's comprehension plan for week one. My overall goals for this particular student is to read at a third grade level with appropriate accuracy and comprehension, have a basic understanding of the different types of texts and their purposes, and asking questions to help understand text.

With goals established,  I determined the  assessment plan. I used end of the year summative assessments to give me a starting point. This information gave me a grade level and helped me focus on the level of standards each student would be able to accomplish in  three weeks.

Each child's assessment plan is designed to fit their needs and is *formative in nature. It may be as simple as a running record. Of course, with assessment  comes data collection. This year I'm going to try The *CCPensieve. This is a tool used for conferring during daily five time.

(This particular tool is a separate cost then basic membership to the 2 sisters Daily CAFE  if you're interested.)

*There will be one beginning and end summative benchmark to show total growth. 


This is week one's plan. 
Time  to focus on the "essential questions".  This plan is geared towards a 4th grade student who is at a 2nd grade level. The essential questions I've chosen for this student are:
Why do authors write?, How does story structure effect understanding of the text?,  and What's the big idea?

Steps three and four depend upon each other. In step three,  I decided which performance tasks that I will use in a formative fashion to determine understanding. The additional activities in step four aid in the learning/teaching process.

I paired each "question" to some essential standards that helped to further refine the performance tasks to check for understanding. Which is step three. Determine the performance tasks.  After reading Madonna's Mr. Peabody's Apples in week one, one performance task will include making a list of character traits for two of the main characters and using Tagul to make some character trait word clouds. Another performance task will be a journal entry about spreading rumors.

The learning plan is the actions that lead to  your big idea & goals from step one.  The difference between your performance tasks and your learning plan is the performance tasks goal is to get formative information. The rest of the learning plan list is used to learn the desired skills to meet the ultimate goal.

Thanks for taking the time to check this out! If you're interested, I'm working on putting together the whole program for grades 1-4. For each grade level "the whole program" consists of: 3 components- Reading, Word Work, and Writing, In each component you will find weekly ideas for both individual and small group activities, general formative assessments, teacher weekly planner w/ tasks and to-do list included, and more! I will be doing a series on my blog, as well, that will walk you through each component for one grade level.  So keep in touch! 


*The CCPensieve & 2 Sisters CAFE is not an affiliate link.  I just really like this tool and this site is a great resources if you implement the Daily Five and CAFE

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Word Study Made New Again

Hi, it's Cathy from The W.I.S.E Owl sharing some ideas on Word Study...and making it new again.


In the fall of 2005 I transferred to a school that was one year into Word Study training, so that year was a trial by fire.  I learned the basics of the assessing, grouping, instructing, sorting, and assessing.  The routines were set and the cycle continued.  I felt pretty good about what I was doing.

As the years past, I added and deleted activities and routines as I thought I should.  I’ve taken classes here and there and was comfortable.  This summer I decided I needed to take an “official” class to update what I know.  I also wanted some credibility with the staff at my new school.  If I’m the one doing training, I wanted them to have confidence in me.

Feeling pretty good about myself and thinking I’d just sit back and take the class, I found myself taking page after page of notes.  All of the information wasn’t new, but some was a new way of thinking.  I did have an earth-shattering (almost) a-ha.  I'll post it at the end...stay tuned.  I was excited about word study all over again.  Here are some of my notes.
It is important to make sure students are given explicit and meaningful introductions to the sort.  Each word in the sort should be described and discussed carefully.  The headers should be used, not only, as the title of the column, but as a point of reference for the generalization.  Each picture or word should be matched to the header.  As the words are added to the columns, they are described as to why they belong in the column.  It’s not enough to say, “camp belongs on this column because it ends like stump.”  We need to make sure students are using the words to explain the generalization EACH time.  “The picture “lip” belongs in the “ip” column because I hear a short i in “lip.”  Students need to be able to explain the generalization as they sort. 
The practice activities MUST enhance the feature.  If they don’t, don’t do it!  Word triangles, pyramids, or steps don’t teach the feature.  They don’t explain the generalization.  Create meaningful ways to practice the sorting. 

1.  Labeling the sort cards is a valuable experience.  Students need to see the cvc, cvcc, or cvce codes when they sort, so the generalization is more concrete.  When students need to add endings to words, learning that most cvc words double the final consonant before adding the ending students will be able to spot a cvc word without much effort.   Labeling is a stairstep skill. 


2.  Word Hunts - Another meaningful practice is the word hunt.  Students can use their independent books, words in the room, or poetry folder to find words that match the feature they are studying.  If their feature is a short a sort, finding short a words in their environment is important to making connections.  As they find words, they should label with cvc.  When they share their word hunts, students should be asked to explain the generalization to prove their case.  Word Hunts are more effective if they are discussed and not just checked. 

3.  Speed Sorts - A new take on an old favorite would be: Speed Sorts.  That’s right, speed sorts.  Nothing new, right?  Wrong.  Students should not be racing against each other.  It puts the emphasis on the contest, not on the generalization.  The new-and-improved speed sort asks students to race against themselves.  It’s still a partner sort…one person has the timer, while one person sorts against it.  Each race is recorded for speed and each person races against their own speed.  (This can also be a great homework lesson with mom’s cell phone timer.)
Homework is another area where word study needs to be updated.  Teachers have fallen into a rut of sorts.  Monday – write your words.  Tuesday – triangle words (UGH).  Wednesday – rainbow words (double UGH).  Thursday – practice test.  Don’t forget the new rule:  If it doesn’t ENHANCE the feature, don’t do it!  This also applies to homework.  Without using, “It’s easier on the parents” or “But the parents don’t know what to do” as an excuse…it’s about the student and it’s about the feature.  There are great ways to practice the sorts that can enhance the feature. 

1.  Magic boxes are a great way to show the similar short vowel feature.  Students fill in the magic boxes with crossing vowels.  Vowels can be written with marker and pictures can be illustrated to show meaning.



2.  SAW – After Feature A students can use the SAW to practice.  Students SORT, ALPHABETIZE, AND WRITE.  Students should sort their cards.  Alphabetize each column individually.  Then, write the columns alphabetically.  Highlighting the features of the words in each list is mandatory.

3.  Sentence Triple Threat – This is not the usual “Write a sentence” activity.  This activity requires students divide their list into thirds and write three types of sentences.  One-third of the words need to be written as a declarative sentence.  One-third of the words need to be written as a question.  One-third of the words need to be written as an exclamatory sentence.  Students should make sure to highlight the feature.
Of course, assessments are crucial.  We have to know what the students know and what they don’t know to be able to move them forward.  One of the biggest shifts in thinking is the difference between teaching in learning.  Teachers need to know if the students understand the features and are able to transfer their understanding to their own writing.  Frustrated teachers will come to me saying, “They know it on the test, but they aren’t using it in their writing.”  Well, I take a deep breath and ask, “If they aren’t using it they don’t know it.”  The teachers need to make the distinction between what they have “taught” and what the students have learned.  One way to make sure the students are applying their knowledge is to have one word that demonstrates the feature on the test that the students have not practiced.  The easiest way to do this is by cutting off the bottom row on the sort and saving it for the test.  With good practice and homework, students should be able to recognize the feature and sort it appropriately on the test.  Another shift in thinking is about the score the students get on a test.  Students should always get a 100% (or very close) on the test.)  If they don’t, they don’t know it and they haven’t generalized it.  Sooooo…Do it again.  Yep, do the same generalization with different words.  If everyone in the group makes a 100% except one child, then that child will need a review and a retest while the group moves on.  The bottom line is:  it doesn’t matter what you teach…it only matters what they learn.

By the way, here's my EARTH-SHATTERING change in thinking.  
Yep, I was in the awful habit of interchanging the terms "word study" and "spelling."  I am so so glad I took that class last summer...and I'm not afraid to say it.

I hope you have something new to try in your word study.  If you do, let me know how it works.

Click here if you’d like a Classwork/Homework Idea Sheet.

Click here if you'd like a Magic Squares Worksheet.





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I tested them.....NOW WHAT?


Hello! I am so glad to be back here with my literacy friends!  I have been gone for awhile trying desperately to get caught up on the back to school crazies as well as moving into a new house!  YAY!  Not to mention that TODAY is my oldest son's birthday.  He is 12!  How is that possible???
But the dust is settling and it is time to get busy!  So I am coming today to talk to you about data.....du du dun!  I know it is a word that we all tend to dread, but I am here to help!

It is the time of year when we are all thinking about data.  We have tested our kids and now we have to analyze all of our data to see what we should do next.

I am going to share with you my school wide data wall. I approached my principal with this idea this year, because I think that it is important that we all get a sense of what each teacher is "dealing" with.  It is hard as school to bring every teacher together and make them realize that we are all working toward the same goal.  It is so hard for primary teachers to understand how hard upper grades work to get students to pass the standardized tests and get students to know all of the standards when they are not reading on grade level.  And it is so hard for an upper grade teacher to understand that a primary teacher doesn't just play all day.  They actually work really hard to get students to read and they have to have the BEST management in order to get all those littles doing the same thing at the same time.

So we put together a data wall.  Here is what we did:

1.  Each teacher completed running records with each of their students to find their instructional reading level according to Fountas and Pinnell.

2.  We made our lists of student levels.

3.  I assigned each grade level a color sticky note.  Each classroom teacher created a sticky note for each student in their class by labeling them with the initial of the teacher's last name and the student's class number.  So since my name is Mrs. Hamilton and I teach first grade, I had 23 blue sticky notes labeled H1 - H23.



4.  I used a large bulletin board to make a chart with sections labeled Pre-A through Post-Z.  That is 28 boxes.

5.  Each teacher posted their sticky note in the section on the chart where that particular child was instructionally.  We chose to use the students' instructional levels because we want to look at strategies for teaching our students at each level.






Our Kindergarten students are currently not on our wall since so many of them are Pre-A readers.  We will be adding them at our mid year testing.  Just to give you an idea of our levels, 1st grade is blue, 2nd grade is pink, 3rd grade is orange, 4th grade is green, and 5th grade is yellow.


Now, mid year, we will move our sticky notes to our students' new reading levels and look for trends in growth!  I can't wait for everyone to see how much we move our sticky notes!

Until then, we will spend our once a month reading committee meetings looking for the best strategies for teaching each of these kids at their levels!  Wish us luck!



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Analyzing Reading Behaviors

Hello readers!  Carla from Comprehension Connection here to talk about the importance of being a kid watcher.  Why?  Well, analyzing your students' reading behaviors can be a helpful piece of information to guide your instruction. Take a look at the pictures below.  Do you ever see your students looking like these?

The answer to that question for me is...yes.  In fact, I see it fairly often. Although I hate to see it, I do think that the signs are necessary to know whether our instruction is Too Easy, Too Hard, or Just Right.  Keeping the Goldie Locks Principle in mind applies to so many elements of teaching, and when we are at the Just Right level, students are working at the optimal level for progress.
Goldilocks Rules for Choosing a "Just Right" Book
Click the image to download

As I prepared to write this post, I happened to come across this great anchor chart (which I plan to have my students place in their interactive notebooks).  I love Karen's explanation of what reading of each type of book looks like for the student.  Selecting appropriate reading material is a difficult thing to do for many students, but what an important step in becoming a reader.  Real readers know when a book is appropriate for them (and enjoy the book if it is just right.)

But what about other areas of learning?  Are their signs that we need to watch for?  If so, what do they mean?

As I complete a reading assessment of students, one important component are the observations I make. I work hard at being attentive to the signs below and record them in my notes or on the running record forms. Kid watching, take notes, and monitoring error types help you identify skill weaknesses. Below are the behaviors that I make note of when I am testing, listening to my students, or discussing with them:

  1. Pointing-At some reading stages, pointing is recommended, but once the student reaches the transitional reader stage, the tracking of print happens with the eyes only. Pointing is a sign for the upper grades that the level of the text is pushing them a bit too much.
  2. Head Movement-Watch if the child moves his/her head left and right as he/she reads.  You can mention and work on this in later lessons, but students do this rather than tracking with eyes.
  3. Rubbing eyes, hair, or clothing- These are frustration or anxiety signs that the material may be too hard or a sign of fatigue.  Reading is hard work, and when children tire, it may be time for a break. Continued body language such as this is a sign the materials too high in level.
  4. Pleading for Help-I see this normally when I'm checking comprehension.  The child looks around the room as if the answer will fall off the wall.  (again...frustration sign)
  5. Fidgeting in Chair-May be sign of fatigue or distraction, but can also be a sign that the child is hitting frustration.
  6. "Are we done yet?"..."How much longer?"-These questions are an indication that the child is done.  Bring things to closure at this point.  
  7. Frequent Rereading-This is important to note because of the impact on fluency and comprehension.  If a child returns back repeatedly to get a running start, they lose meaning.
Reading Behaviors Checklist
Click to Download
In addition to these frustration signs during oral reading and assessments, I also keep tabs on my students behaviors related to strategies.  I like the indicators on this checklist and find the form helpful to use as I talk with parents.  You may find it helpful too. (I apologize for the blurriness of the image).

I appreciate you visiting today, and I hope these ideas help you recognize the hidden messages our students show with their behaviors.  They may not be disrupting, acting out, and avoiding for nothing.  They may be trying to give you the sign that they are struggling.  

Have a great week!







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Digging Deeper Into Data: Finding Your Reader's Story!


As a reading specialist, sometimes I am up to my eyes in data. (Anyone else?)



I’ve taught at three schools now in multiple grades, and I’ve worked with DIBELS, AIMSweb, EasyCBM, mClass Reading TRC, mClass Math, NWEA MAP, NWEA MPG, TerraNova, Fountas & Pinnell running records, STAR Math and Reading, ISTEP, OEA, and two different series of district assessments. I think that’s all, but to be honest, I’m probably missing some. Let’s just say that I’m pretty used to using data.

A few weeks ago I had the chance to attend the National Reading Recovery Conference and listen to a talk given by Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan.

When I walked into a session about triangulating data, I was expecting some useful, but likely dry information about how to analyze data- and I was pleasantly surprised to instead, come into a session that talked about really seeing students as more than numbers.
One presenter at the conference gave a metaphor:


tests as thermometer


Think about it- does your doctor take your temperature, and then give you a diagnosis? Well, no! Your doctor asks you about your symptoms, when they started, etc.- the doctor asks for your story, and then does tests to confirm- but 80% of the time, the diagnosis is in the story.

With students, we need to use the screeners as just that- a thermometer to let us know something is wrong. Then, we need to dig deeper into the symptoms to really find the story of that reader so we can figure out how to treat what ails them in reading!

So, how do we find out our readers’ stories?

finding a reader's story

  • Think about what the assessment is really assessing.
    • Accuracy? Fluency? Comprehension? Vocabulary? Phonics? Remember that it could be more than one. (A comprehension assessment usually requires a basic level of fluency, which requires some phonics, which requires phonemic awareness, etc…)
  • Consider the language hierarchy to determine next step. Some skills usually must occur before others.
    • Reading with meaning takes 2 levels of skills:
      • Perceptual: seeing, recognizing, storing, retrieving
      • Cognitive: thinking about comprehension, message
      • If kids can’t do perception skills on “autopilot,” they don’t have much attention left for meaning.
    • Did they fail at a “higher” level skill because they don’t have the lower level one? Consider assessing other needed skills.
      • Work backwards to find the issue.
  • What might be affecting our results BESIDES that reading skill?
    • Is the test read to them?
    • Focus
    • Nonsense words- are they trying to guess real words?
    • ESL students- must have knowledge of that vocabulary
    • Background knowledge
    • Familiarity with academic language
    • Text anxiety
  • Analyze what kind of errors they are making.
    • A running record without analyzing (M, S, V) is just a number. We need that qualitative side to know WHY.
    • Sometimes you may need to give them a level that’s too hard. What is holding them back from that level?
    • If in doubt, try something different and see how they do.
    • When CAN they do it? (listening comp? oral response? Context?)
  • What else do I need to assess to decide the right intervention?
    • So they got a 23 in Letter ID- but which letters do they know? They struggle with comprehension- but is it comprehension within, beyond, or about the text?
We have to remember that standardized test data is only ONE piece. Tests are just to help us make the diagnosis. We need to see them as what happens before and during instruction, not just after.

We have to consider everything we know about a child. Our anecdotal notes from conferences and small group lessons with kids count for a lot!  Don’t forget to ASK kids about their thinking, too- sometimes we try to infer when just asking them will tell us so much!

Of course, once we know more about where the student is, we can use that information to plan instruction and intervention. THAT is why finding the story is so important- because otherwise, the scores can lead us in the wrong direction.

same score

Two kids at level F may not belong in the same small group if one of them needs help with comprehension and the other needs help with decoding. Two kids with the same score may need entirely different things to improve- and that’s why looking beyond the number of one assessment is so vital.

One of the things I loved about this session is that it really validated my beliefs about data as one piece of the bigger picture, and my own professional knowledge of that kid still being every bit as important as the data in the spreadsheet. If medical tests could make a diagnosis on their own all the time, we wouldn’t need doctors. And if tests could make a diagnosis on their own in education, we wouldn’t need teachers.

Stay strong- and do what you know is best for kids. The assessments are a tool- but we are still the experts!



If you’re interested in more about using assessment in the context of your instruction, you can check out Claire and Tammy’s book Assessment in Perspective or their website at Teachers for Teachers. They were really great speakers and I could tell they still spend time in classrooms alongside teachers, working with kids, on a regular basis.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing more of my conference thoughts on my blog. I love professional learning! Thanks for letting me share with you today.



jennybuttontitle (1)
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RTI Documentation- Tier 3


Does your brain just start to go crazy when you hear the words DOCUMENTATION??  I know mine does.  Documentation is becoming more necessary than ever before in education.  We have those kiddos that just don't seem to be catching on and we HAVE to find out what makes it "click" for them.  They will learn to read, but unfortunately it isn't an automatic skills for many children.

I think most schools have some sort of team of teachers that work together to find supportive ways to help the kids that are struggling.  Your team may be your RTI team.  Our team is called IBS and honestly I don't even remember what it stands for (Intervention Based Support??? maybe??? I really don't remember).  We always seem to refer to it as Irritable Bowel Syndrome… please don't take that wrong, it's just a good way for us to laugh.

Anyway, for those kids that have been moved to Tier 3 intervention and need to have very purposeful interventions, documentation is a must.  These interventions need to be documented.  I made some simple documentation pages that could be used for any subject.  Simply print off and document the lessons and interventions that you have done with the child.

Click on the picture to get the FREEBIE!





Last year, I had a student who was really struggling with sight words.  I was providing specific intervention with sight words.  She would get many of them confused and they are definitely not automatic in her reading.  This student is a good artist and loves to draw so I wanted to use her strengths to help her get excited about learning these words that were difficult for her.  

The first page of the progress monitoring plan is basic information.  This page describes the students strengths/weaknesses, skills needed to succeed, and intervention skills that you will be specifically working on.  This page also allows you to document what the intervention will be, who is providing the intervention, how often, and what assessments you will use to monitor the progress.  Here is a sample of my student struggling with sight words. 


When I make copies, I copy page 1 and page 2 back to back.  Page 2 is where I record the Assessment Data and my progress monitoring notes.  For this intervention, I used my sight word lists (I use Lucy Calkins list from The Teachers College of Reading and Writing).  You can check out my post here that tells why I choose to use her list over Dolch and Fry.  I also looked at her Reading Benchmark Book running record to see if she is reading the sight words correctly in text.


Page 3 is where I do my daily documentation.  This example is over about a month.  Unfortunately, I didn't see B. L. as much as I had hoped.  She was sick for a few days and I was out with a sick child for a couple days as well.  And- I think we had a couple of snow days... anyway this is what I have documented.  For her intervention I made different flashcards to help her put a visual picture with her sight words.   She would have the word and would draw a picture to go with the word to help her remember it.  Then, after practice, we would take the picture away.  

If you would like to download this sample, click {here}.

I hope this will help you keep organized with your documentation.  What things do you do to stay organized with your Tier 3 kids?



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