Teaching Tips from Michèle Dufresne
Get Your Assessments Done Early!
The new school year is here! As teachers, we know it is critical to set up a positive learning community and classroom routines that will allow for good teaching all year long. This month, I will be sharing four tips to help jumpstart your classroom and ensure a successful school year.
My first tip of the month is about getting your assessments in early so you can get your students reading.
If you are like many teachers, you are being asked to use a leveled reading assessment in the fall to set a baseline reading level. I know it is hard, but 1) try to get assessments done early and, 2) try to do them yourself. You get so much out of watching the reading processing - well beyond the score on the assessment.
If your school provides you with classroom assistance, have the assistant do something with the class while you perform the assessment. Use a word test assessment to help you pin more accurately where to start the assessment. (for example, try our Pawprints Collection High Frequency Word Assessment). If a book seems too hard, stop the assessment and drop down in level(s) right away. Don't make the student struggle through the text. You can tell if it is too hard in about thirty seconds (Was there a break down in strategic process? Did the reading seem laborious for the student?).
Assess the beginners first. They are easier and faster to assess and they really need you to get going with instruction. For the high progress readers, watch what they pick to read, listen to them read their books, and use that information to help you know what level to start at.
While the assessments are going on, get lots of easy books out and get students reading. If they are like many children, they have not touched a book all summer and you will need to drop down several levels from where they were the year before to get them warmed up. After a couple weeks of easy reading, you will be surprised at what they can do! Look out for more tips this month on setting up your students to be successful readers, getting help in the classroom, and encouraging reading habits at home.
Happy new year to you all!
Michèle Dufresne is author of many Pioneer Valley Books early readers (including the Bella and Rosie series), Word Solvers (Heinemann), and an early literacy and literacy intervention consultant.
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