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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Literacy Teacher's Playbook - Final Thoughts & Reflections

This is my final post about The Literacy Teacher's Playbook. Thanks to A Teacher Mom for hosting this book study.  I'm really glad I joined in because I probably wouldn't have picked this book up on my own. Sometimes I have such a bad attitude about assessment!
I think the author makes a great case for how we can use assessment to inform instruction. Too often we don't use assessment to our advantage. The big messages that are sticking out for me include:

Use the data you already have. The best assessment is the work your students are already doing. I don't need new tests, I just need to think about using what I already have. It's right there in their desks or chair pockets.

Assess the students that puzzle you the most in multiple ways. Of course this makes sense, but I usually don't take the time to assess in more than one or two ways. I definitely favor a few of the assessments I am most comfortable with. By looking at reading engagement, fluency, decoding, comprehension, conversation, writing engagement and qualities of good writing all together, I'll get a broader picture of what the student can and cannot do. Varied assessments for me!

When making decisions about what a student needs, come up with 4 or 5 goals before choosing one. By pushing yourself to find more needs, you are pushing yourself to go beyond your comfortable teaching strategies and really find what will benefit the student the most. Sometimes we just focus right in on a few things of our choosing without realizing that the student may have greater needs.

Find a student's strengths and then chose a goal that will move him/her forward from there. Why do I always look for gaps instead of strengths? Rather than focus on what's missing, focus on what the student can do and move him ahead from there. It seems so obvious that a student will have greater success when working from a strength. Sometimes I just need someone to state the obvious!

The July/August 2014 edition of Reading Today has an article titled, "Formative Assessment: Designing and Implementing a Viable System" by Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey. It fits right in with this book and my final thoughts. "The problem is that too much talk about summative assessments crowds out more useful conversations that teachers can and should be having about formative assessments." The authors go on to recommend that teachers "implement an intentional system for collecting and analyzing evidence of learning, one that signals what needs to happen next." I'm wondering if they also read Jennifer Serravallo's book?

Thanks for joining us for this book study. Now I just need to get my team to read this too. 

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