Blasting off the Year with High Flying Literacy Ideas

Another year has come (much quicker than I would have liked), and it is most definitely blasting off.  We have had a whirlwind of meetings as many of you have, and our students come Monday. We've learned about PLCs, LLI, RTI, the 3 Rs, and more acronyms than I can remember, but we WILL be ready on Monday.  We may work all weekend to prep, but by Monday, we will be ready to roll (at least the classroom teachers will be).  I, on the other hand, will be working with the classroom teachers to get a feel of who may need extra support and assessing kids to get baseline data.  For my post, I thought I'd share some of the assessments I will be giving and some of the helpful forms I use.  Many of my blog readers are reading specialists or classroom teachers who are very interested in reading instruction, and these forms may be very helpful to you as your working with guided reading groups or tutoring situations.  

Next week, as our new students get acclimated to the school and everyone works to establish the norms for their classrooms, I will be pushing in to do some informal assessments as I mentioned. The first one we will be giving is the Screening and Feature tests from Word Journeys.  This will tell us what 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, I will 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 LLI 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.  Then, we'll get our groups firmed up for starting.  

One of the forms I use at the beginning is this Reading Behavior Checklist. I actually shared in a blog post last week, but since the audience may be different this week, I thought I'd include it again.  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.  
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 that 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, and as the year progresses, I hope that you'll find our blog information makes your job easier and better for your students.  I love sharing ideas and learning from my blogging buddies too.  If you'd like to add my blog to your Bloglovin feed, you can click on the button below.
I hope you have a high flyin' year and that your kids blast off with all the learning they will do with you.  Now, I believe Jessica is waiting for you, so blast on over to her blog using the next stop button below.  Have a great year!

[name=Meet Carla] [img=] [description=Retired Reading Specialist and Literacy Coach with 27 Years of Service | Passionate about All Things Literacy | Mom of Two Kids and a Fur Baby Named Molly]