Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Slice of Life - My stomach doesn't hurt

I'm about a third of the way through Jennifer Serravallo's book, Teaching Reading in Small Groups and pondering reading a lot.  Winter break is approaching quickly and I want to revamp some things in my room. Over the weekend I decided I need to redo all of their reading assessments. I made a plan; four days with each class, 6 reading assessments a day, equals information to celebrate and reflect on.  I started yesterday with class one and got 4 done, just a little set back.  Today I spread them out a bit more and met my goal of 6 with class two.

We have lots to celebrate!  I'm seeing the work we have done as a class during mini lessons of reading workshop in each child.  My insides are bubbling with joy as I sit next to each child and watch them be independent readers.  It is satisfying and rewarding to watch the "I do" of gradual release.  

My tenth reading assessment today was with a little boy declared over and over when school started he couldn't read.  He takes ownership for his actions, he often thinks about himself, he speaks what is on his mind often without any filters, he gets tired, he tries hard, his loves facts, he loves bugs and today he was a reader.  When I was assessing his reading engagement to start our work together I asked him who reads with him at home.  He said no one, he doesn't read but he does do sight words.  His favorite book is No, David.  A perfect book for him in so many ways.  After reading four reading levels, I named several reading strategies I observed.  He just beamed.  I asked him if I could give him a hug to celebrate and I wasn't sure which way that would go.  He was about to walk away and turned around and gave me the biggest bear hug with gentleness.  A sign, we are learning and my students are growing.

My district gives kindergarten teachers til the end of the second quarter to do our initial reading assessment. This makes sense with our attendance schedule.  As of today, my students have been to school for 38 days. For the past two years I've held off a bit to truly get accurate information about my student's as readers.  This year I did it earlier, at the end of the first month of school.  I knew the data I would get but I was feeling pressure.  I was feeling pressure to show more student growth.  I was feeling pressure because my teammates are both pregnant and on maternity leave half of the year and wanted to start guided reading earlier.  I got the data I expected at the end of the first month.  Four students could read a beginning leveled book, 43 students were below a level A.  My stomach hurt back then.  The data I got showed me the same information for all students.  They needed reading instruction and guidance.  They needed to learn what being a reader looked like and felt like.  They needed to learn good reading strategies all readers use.  

My stomach doesn't hurt anymore.  My heart is full and hopeful, as I work on completing my assessment plan.  Maybe the celebration is better because I have documentation from September to show they weren't using reading strategies and now with the same tool I can show growth.  I know it feels frustrating to take the time to do an assessment when you can predict the results.  I still feel like doing the reading assessment in September didn't really change anything for our learning.  I'm not sure what I will do next year.  It appears I will be wrestling with the timing of reading assessments for a while.


  1. This is so true: " I know it feels frustrating to take the time to do an assessment when you can predict the results." and I struggle with the same thing... and I agree with you - when you are looking at growth, maybe it does make sense to start earlier than you think will be helpful. It's hard though... because it's hard to tell what about those earlier assessments will help students. Lots to think about! :-)

  2. You are doing great work. Your gut tells you so! It is so worrisome when you feel they aren't where they should be. You did and are doing what was/is necessary.

    I love the slice you tucked in with your young outspoken reader. He certainly knows what is in his heart. And, it seems you are taking up a big part of it!

  3. So happy you and your students are feeling the growth! It is nice you that you have some choice around when you give the assessment and you know your purpose in giving it! I loved how you shared the data with your student and noticed how he has grown in so many different ways. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Isn't it great to witness growth in students?!!?
    Thanks for sharing the story of the student who you assessed with No David. That's going to stick with me for a long time.