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You've Given The Test...Now What?

using information from the test to plan lessons

It's about that time of year for assessing students and their reading skills.  We use the DRA and the IRI at our school to measure the progress of reading.  I think teachers sometimes feel like the assessments they have to give are just one more thing on their already crowded teacher plan.  I was a classroom teacher for 16 years so I get it.  But there really is a reason for giving this test.  The DRA is not the end goal.  It's a way of letting you know where you need to go from here in your literacy instruction.

Using information from reading tests to lesson plan

I start by giving all my DRA tests to all my students.  Lots of piles on my tables!

using test information to help write lesson plans

As I go, I like to code the tests at the top of the test booklets.  This is a quick way for me to glance at the tests and know what the student is needing more instruction in to move forward.  F goes at the top for fluency and C for comprehension.

code DRA tests to help you group students according to skills they need

Take a few moments to look over the tests and analyze why the student was having any difficulties.  Write the names, level and codes on Post It Notes or index cards.  The notes or cards can be easily moved around so you can group the students to help you see who all needs more instruction in specific areas.  Use whatever codes that make sense to you.  The goal is to not just give the test, but to use the information you get from it to guide your instruction.

anecdotal records notebooks to help you organize student learning

I also like to keep anecdotal records on my students.  Get in the habit of having your anecdotal notebook with you and jot notes as you listen to students read.  This is a great way to keep track of what each student is doing.  It is provides wonderful documentation for parents and administrators if they want to know exactly how a specific student is doing in reading or what you are working on to move them forward in reading skills.

anecdotal records notebooks to help you organize student learning

This is another way of organizing your goals for each group so you can keep track of your teaching focus for each group at a glance.

Don't forget our Sharing Our Blessings hop that I posted last week!  Each teacher is giving away two $25 TpT gift cards.  AND today you can get a FREE resource from each one of us!  This is only available today and tomorrow then the resource will not be free anymore.  So don't miss it!  Click here or the picture to be taken there!

Sharing the Blessings with YOU!

Sharing Our Blessings Blog Hop

During this season of thankfulness, I want to say thank you to all of you who have taken the time over the past several years to read my blog!  I am truly thankful to you all.  So many friendships have been formed along the way that never would have happened without the world of blogging.  

Sharing Our Blessings Blog Hop

I am joining in with some of those friends to bring to you our Sharing Our Blessings blog hop!  Each one of us is sharing our blessings with you by sharing a resource for FREE on Sunday, November 22 and Monday, November 23.  PLUS, we are each holding a giveaway of 2 TpT $25 gift cards now!!  Whoo hoo!

My resource that you will want to come back for on Sunday and Monday is one of my popular Take It or Leave It opinion writing using evidence resources.  It gives students practice writing their opinions while providing evidence all in a fun way!  This resource is just one of a line of Take It or Leave It resources that you can check out here:  Take It or Leave It Opinion Writing.

Take It or Leave It Opinion Writing

Take It or Leave It Opinion Writing

Enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win one of two TpT $25 gift cards.  Be sure to do this at each stop along the hop.  After entering, you can just hop your way through at the bottom of this post.  

Be sure to come back on Sunday and Monday to pick up all your resources (valued at $3-$5) for free on just those two days only!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thankful in the Classroom

What I am Thankful for freebie

November is typically the time of year that we think more about the people and things we are thankful for.  Considering what occurred Friday in Paris, I am even more thankful for the precious ones in my classroom and I want to be sure they know it.  You can use this freebie too if you choose.

What I am Thankful For Writing Freebie

I know a lot of us have students write about what THEY are thankful for during November.  But I want to tell each of my students (around 45) that I am thankful for THEM.  
What I am Thankful For Writing Freebie

I have included a color version and a black and white version for you.  

What I am Thankful For Writing Freebie

Just click on any of the pictures to download the Thankful pages.  It's a great way to spread blessings!  And an added bonus, students get a little more practice with providing evidence in their writing.  
blends activities

Chunk Its Consonant Blends and Digraphs

Wanted to let you know that the second resource in my Chunk Its resources is ready for you.  This new Chunk Its is about teaching students to read and spell in chunks of consonant blends and digraphs.  Students need practice using these chunks of sounds instead of using individual sounds.  Click the pictures or here to see this resource.  

Chunk Its Consonant Blends and Digraphs

Chunk Its Short Vowels Word Family Activities

It's All About Chunks

RTI Reading Intervention Visual Plans and Resources

Our RTI is a little over half way through for the first cycle of the year.  Lots of work on chunking word families and phrase chunking for reading fluency is happening.  My students are making good progress and are improving their reading skills.  And just as important, their confidence in themselves is also growing!

One thing that helps their confidence is I have my students graph their own progress each week.  Having students keep RTI Data Binders gives them a good visual to see how they are doing and helps them take some ownership in their learning.
Blends and Digraphs Reference Chart

My tier III student reads a Blends and Digraphs chart every day.  Then I say words and ask him to find a picture that begins like my word.  He also uses a chart for reference when he practices breaking words apart into chunks and putting them back together again.  We practice doing this quickly.  He has difficulty recalling the correct sounds to make and then holding on to those sounds when putting the word back together.

Questioning and Visualizing what you read

My older students in group 2 do a lot of practicing with questioning and visualizing the text.  You might be surprised how many students need explicit teaching for thinking about what they read.  Especially for struggling readers, they truly feel like the goal is just reading (word calling) the words.  It doesn't seem to click with some students that they should be thinking as they read.  I like to use these wipe off boards for students to flip back and forth as we read and discuss the story.  Sometimes they can't get enough time to say all they want to say about what they are thinking!  It has improved their confidence in their reading and thinking skills and they love participating in the discussions now.

This older group of students are also practicing hard to improve their fluency by reading in chunks of phrases.  Some were reading word by word and others just plowing through the words as quickly as they can.  They are enjoying reading more by using phrasing chunks because they can now add in expression and it helps their comprehension.

Chunk Its using word families to read and spell

Another kind of chunking my first group is working on is word family chunking.  He needs to move away from reading and spelling words in individual sounds.  He is working on using the chunks of sounds instead.  These Chunk Its are a great way to practice this!

Chunk Its using word family chunks to read and spell

Chunk Its:  using word family chunks to read and spell words

Students glue their chunks and then write the whole word.  It is important too that we move from individual sounds to chunks into the whole word.  That is always our goal- whole words.  Then they read a sentence with those chunks and you can check their comprehension of what they read by the student doing a quick sketch of what they read.  Reading is all about comprehending!
Click here to see the new Chunk Its resource.  More Chunk Its coming soon!

More Chunk Its Now:  Blends & Digraphs!

consonant blends and digraphs activities

Family Literacy Night- Campfires & Tents!

Family Literacy Night Camping theme

Family Literacy Night this year was a camping theme.  We had a great turn out and it was a lot of fun!  Our family nights revolve around literacy and math activities, parent information, and a free dinner for our families.  We plan our fall night for the same night at parent/teacher conferences and book fair.  By having all these events in one night, we all get more families to come in to see us.

Family Literacy Night Camping Theme

These are just some of the supplies we used and prepared for our family night.  Lots of books, fluency bags (both reading and math), and smores snacks!

Family Literacy Night Camping Theme

From the moment families step into the gym, they are coming into our Camp Learn A Lot.  This design and our table designs are by Mandy over at Teaching with Simplicity. 

Family Literacy Night Camping Theme

Our materials were set up on these tables.  Families signed in, were given a fluency bag for their child's grade level, a math fluency bag, and a timer if they didn't have one on their phone.  

Family Literacy Night Camping Theme

Our focus at school has been building reading fluency and math fact fluency.  We intentionally set our family night to revolve around these areas so parents could be informed with how well their child was doing in these areas.  This night was more about informing parents rather than just fun activities.  

After the parent and child completed their fluency activities, they came back to our tables and each child was given a free book (dollar sales at Scholastic are a huge help for this) and a bag of Smores.  The bags had miniature marshmallows, chocolate chips, and graham cereal.

Family Literacy Night Camping Theme Fluency Bags

These were my fluency bags organized by grade levels and the parent sign in area.

Family Literacy Night Camping Theme Fluency Bags

My fluency bags contained directions on colored paper, fluency passage (one for the parent to mark on and another copy for the student to read from), and a sticky note for their words correct per minute score to be written on.  The reading passages came from Reading A-Z.

Family Literacy Night Camping Theme Fluency Bags

We do not assess words per minute at this time of the year for kindergarten or first grade, so those grade level baggies contained stories and reading rubrics instead of fluency passages.

Family Literacy Night Camping Theme Fluency Bags

After getting a fluency bag from me, students also got a math baggie from Mandy so parents could determine how well their child was doing with recalling math facts.

Family Literacy Night Camping Theme Fluency Trees

These are our Fluency Trees!  We divided our trees by grade level bands.

Family Literacy Night Camping Theme Fluency Trees

Sticky notes with the students' scores were then placed on the trees.  They looked so pretty and colorful!

Family Literacy Night Camping Theme

We decorated the gym in our camping theme with tents, chairs, and campfires.   Families sat around the campfire to read and work their math problems.  

Family Literacy Night Camping Theme

The students really enjoyed the tents and reading inside them!  It was so much fun to see them inside reading.

Family Literacy Night Camping Theme

Campfire rings in each of our campsites!

Family Literacy Night Camping Theme

These were the table decorations as our families ate their chili and hot dog supper.  Mandy created these!

Family Literacy Night Camping Theme

We even had a photo booth for families to take pictures of each other!  Looks so real with that starry background.

Family Literacy Night Camping Theme

Our superintendent was able to get us some bikes for our drawing!  The kids were beyond excited about winning a bike from the drawing!

Family Literacy Night Camping Theme

We also had a drawing for Walmart gift cards for the parents.  With food, fun activities, and prizes, your family night is almost guaranteed to be a huge success!!

These wonderful ideas for having a camping theme came from Scholastic.  I found their post on using this theme for family night (read about it here) and adapted it to fit our needs.  Thank you Scholastic!

You can read about our other Family Literacy Nights by clicking here and here.

Tracking Student Progress with Graphing

RTI reading intervention visual plans and resources

How are your RTI times coming along?  The end of this week will mark our half way point for tier II students.  This may sound strange, but I think my teachers look forward to test days to see the progress their students are making!  I know that I do!

RTI Binders for tracking progress for teachers and students

I have my students in tiers II and III track their progress as we go through the RTI cycle after each assessment.  I discuss with them almost every week how they are NOT competing against each other.  Rather they are trying to improve their own skills.  These graphs are not displayed and are for the student themselves not the rest of the group.  Being able to see how they are progressing is quite motivating and rewarding.  My second grader, who is struggling mightily, achieved a 100% on his sight word assessment.  He was beyond thrilled with this.  He told me he had never made a 100% before!  Awww....some students have to work so hard for every single victory.

ABC Letter apps for sight word activities

A fun way to work with sight words, which I expect to also be spelled correctly is to use the ABC Magnetic app on our iPads.  Sometimes it helps just to change things up a bit.

The other resources listed in my visual plans can be found below.  Just click on the pictures to see the resource.  

We are giving our assessments early this week as we won't have school on Friday.  Thursday will be a long day with half a day of school and then our parent/teacher conferences, book fair, and Title 1 Meeting, Supper, and Reading and Math Activities Night!  I'm already tired just thinking about it!

Sorting activities for long vowels and short vowels

Blends and Digraphs Activities for centers and RTI

RTI and Literacy Center Activities for Open Syllables


Freebie teaching students to use evidence from the text to prove their answers

RTI Plans and Resources