Monitoring Struggling Readers with Data

It is that time that I put on my reading teacher hat for a moment to check for the progress of my students’ reading abilities. I spent the first 9 years of my career teaching intensive reading to middle and high school students reading three or more grade levels behind as well as a literacy coach supporting reading so that is my teaching forte. 

Even though I am their English teacher and I have to continuously provide them grade level reading material and also teach them writing, speaking, and listening, it is important to ensure that they start to move towards independence.

What does it mean to move towards Independence?

At this point in the year, I am monitoring for many things. Are they decoding difficult words? Or are they pausing and waiting for me to say the word for them? Are they monitoring for meaning? Or are they still reading to the end and not noticing when comprehension has broken down? It is important that I check in with my students to see how they are moving to working without me and using the skills that I have been teaching but also their reading teachers have been teaching. But this ONLY works if I know them as readers and where they are coming from.

What have I done so far?

In August, all students took a phonics test to test their decoding ability. I also allocated time for 1-1 conferences to complete an ORF (Oral Reading Fluency). In addition, during whole group and small group guided reading instruction we practice good reader habits. For example, I teach my students to identify where their comprehension has failed- word, sentence, or paragraph level. Then I teach them what to do to make it make sense. Independence is reminding yourself and your students that you will not always be there to help them. Many struggling readers are dependent readers. Dependent to decode, dependent to define, and dependent on the teacher to make the text or the question make sense.

What next?

Some students are making progress but quite honestly, not to level that makes me comfortable with state testing in a few months. That is our reality. But also what is their reality is that I may not be their teacher next year to continue to monitor and work with them. So I have to ensure that I equip them with the tools that they need to be independent. 

So small groups are being revised. I am implementing more stop and jots to force them to slow down and chunk the text. New bellringers are in place to work on fluency since so many of my students are reading in 2-3 word groupings which affects their comprehension. 

Follow me on Instagram as I share in my feed and stories daily activities and reflections of this work over the next few months.

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