Kelsie Syverson, EngEd 275 DL, Chapter 6: Developing Fluent Readers and Writers

Fluency means having the ability to read and write effortlessly and efficiently. Being a fluent reader and writer is a developmental milestone that all students will reach, most during 2nd or 3rd grade. The Common Core Standards have students being fluent readers by 4th grade.

Reading Fluency

To be a fluent reader, students need to be able to recognize most words automatically and be able to identify the words they don’t know easily. A fluent reader reads quickly, accurately, and uses expression. Reading fluency involves these three components:

  • Automaticity: The ability to recognize familiar words automatically without even thinking about it and can identify unknown words quickly.
  • Speed: Fluent readers can read about 100 words per minute. Most students can reach this speed by 3rd grade with this rate increasing every year. By 8th grade students should be reading about 150 words per minute and adults should read about 250 per minute.
  • Prosody: Reading sentences with expression with appropriate phrasing. Beginning readers read word by word and don’t recognize different punctuation at the end of a sentence, but as they become more fluent readers they are able to do this.

Teachers teach high-frequency words to help students start to recognize words automatically, these words are usually posted on word walls so students can look at them as needed. Students start to learn the 100 highest frequency words in 1st grade and learn 300 of the highest frequency words by 4th grade. High-frequency words typically consist of words that are hard to decode like to, what, and could. Also, some of these words don’t have much meaning to students such as what because students can’t visualize what this looks like and use picture clues to figure it out.

Word-Identification Strategies

There are four strategies that students use to decode unfamiliar words:

  • Phonic Analysis: Students use phonics to decode words. Even though all words don’t follow phonic rules, they have some part of them that do.
  • Decoding by Analogy: Students us phonograms (similar ending sounds in words) to identify unknown words.
  • Syllabic Analysis: Students break words up into separate syllables and then use what they know about phonics to figure out the unknown word.
  • Morphemic Analysis: Students use root words and knowledge of prefixes and suffixes to read unknown words.

Assessing Reading Fluency

Teachers listen to students as they read daily and fully assess their reading and progress from the beginning of the year to the end of each month or quarter. Teachers collect data on the students’ accuracy, speed, and prosody. Teachers check to see if students know high-frequency words and how they use decoding strategies.

Writing Fluency

Writing fluency also focuses on three components:

  • Automaticity: Can write most words automatically and accurately. Students should know how to write high-frequency words as well as strategies to write unknown words.
  • Speed: Should be able to write quick enough to keep up with their thinking. Students need to write 10 words per minute to be considered fluent writers. However, students should be more concerned about others being able to read what they write than how fast they are writing.
  • Writer’s Voice: Students should have their own unique voices when writing. This shows the tone or emotion behind the writing. The writer’s voice is created by the words that are chosen and how they are put together.

Dysfluent Readers and Writers

About 10-15% of students are not fluent readers and writers by 4th grade. A dysfluent reader and writer is a student who is not fluent in reading and writing by 4th grade.


Obstacles to Fluency

Teachers need to help students who are struggling to become fluent readers and writers by using effective intervention:

  • Providing explicit instruction on diagnosed fluency problems
  • Increasing the time for students to read books at their independent level
  • Modeling fluent reading and writing
  • Clarifying the connections between reading fluency and comprehension and between writing fluency and effective compositions
  • Increasing opportunities for writing

Here are some obstacles that students might face and ways to help them:

Obstacle 1: Lack of Automaticity


  • Locate examples of the words in books they are reading
  • Practice reading flash cards with words to a partner
  • Play games using words
  • Write the words and sentences they compose with them on whiteboards
  • Spell words with letter cards or magnet letters
  • Write the words during interactive writing activities

Obstacle 2: Unfamiliarity with Word-Identification Strategies

Teachers should include these things in intervention:

  • Develop students’ background knowledge and introduce new vocabulary words before reading
  • Teach word identification strategies
  • Provide more time for reading and writing practice

Obstacle 3: Slow Reading Speed

The teacher should provide opportunities daily for reading so students can work on increasing their reading speed. Teachers can also provide students with opportunities to read aloud and time themselves to track their own progress and to see improvement. Students should read the same text 3-5 times so that the times are comparable because the reading is the same.

Obstacle 4: Slow Writing Speed

Again teachers should have students writing daily to help increase writing speed. Teachers can use quick writing where students choose a topic and write about it for 5-10 minutes. This is very informal but encourages students to write about something of their choice.

Obstacle 5: Lack of Prosody

Teachers can use modeling to show students what prosody sounds like. Students can also participate in choral reading or readers theatre to improve their prosody.

Obstacle 6: Voiceless Writing

By having students read and write a lot they will start to develop their voice. By reading or listening to stories together the teacher can point out things that the author does to create their voice.

All above information comes from:
Tompkins, G. E. (2017). Literacy for the 21st century: A balanced approach (7th ed.). Boston: Pearson

Classroom Application

The main idea I got out of this chapter was giving students lots of opportunities for reading and writing. Hopefully by giving younger students these opportunities, they won’t have as many obstacles when they get older. I think it is also important to point things out as the teacher is reading aloud to the students such as the author’s voice or how the teacher isn’t reading too slowly or too quickly. Of course, I would have a word wall in my classroom with the high-frequency words that the students should know at their grade level and well as teaching more high-frequency words throughout the year.

Kelsie Syverson, EngEd 275 DL, Chapter 5: Cracking the Alphabetic Code

Students use phonemes, graphemes, and graphophonemic relationships to crack the alphabetic code. A phoneme is also a sound and is represented with slashes when written such as /s/. Students learn about phonemes as they rhyme words, segment words into sounds, and create silly words. A grapheme is a written representation of a sound using one or more letters.  Graphophomemic is the relationship between sounds and symbols. Students learn this as they match letters with letter sounds, blend sounds to form words, and decode and spell vowel patterns.

There are three types of alphabetic code knowledge:

  • Phonemic Awareness: Where students recognize the sounds of oral language and the way it can be manipulated.
  • Phonics: Students understand that letters can be represented as sounds and can be used to recognize words.
  • Spelling: Students learn that sounds can be represented by letters and then be used to form words.

Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic Awareness Strategies:

  • Identifying Sounds in Words
  • Categorizing Sounds in Words
  • Substituting Sounds to Make New Words
  • Blending Sounds to Form Words
  • Segmenting a Word into Sounds

Students use these strategies to read and write words.

Teaching Phonemic Awareness:

Phonemic awareness activities should include these three things:

  1. Should be appropriate for 5 to 6 years old students. Activities such as songs, rhymes, riddles and word play books are always fun.
  2. These activities should be planned and meaningful.
  3. They should be incorporated into other literacy components too. This will help students make the connection between written and oral language.

The teacher can use many activities to encourage phonemic awareness. These activities can include; sound-matching, sound-isolation, sound-blending, and sound-segmentation activities. Another activity is called Elkonin boxes which teaches students to segment words.



Phonics is the relationship between phonology (the sounds in speech) and orthography (the spelling patterns of the written language. Phonics deals with more of the spelling of words than the sounds of the words/letters. Vowels are the tricky part about phonics because the same vowel can make multiple sounds depending on their location in a word, the letters around it, or an at the end of the word.

In phonics, we have to teach about both consonants and vowels. Vowels are a, e, i, o, and u. Consonants are every other letter. and can sometimes be considered vowels when they are in the middle or end of a word.

Consonants can have either blends or digraphs. A consonant blend is when two consonants are together and blend together like sp and bl. Consonant digraphs are letter combinations that make a single sound and the separate letter sounds can not be picked out individually such as ch, sh, th, ph, and, wh.

Vowels typically have two sounds to them, a long vowel and a short vowel. There are also vowel digraphs where two vowels combine to make one sound. Also, if one vowel glides into the next vowel it is called a diphthong, such as house or cow. There are also vowels that are r-controlled vowels, which means the r in the word decides what sound the vowel is going to make.

One-syllable words and syllables in longer words can be broken up into two parts; and onset and a rime. An onset is the consonant sound, if any, the precedes the vowel. The rime is the vowel and any consonant sounds that follow it. So, in the word ball, the b is the onset and all is the rime.

Teaching Phonics:

The best way to teach phonics is through both instruction and application activities. Most teachers start by teaching consonants and short vowels so students can start spelling short words.


For instruction, teachers can use minilessons that focus on phonics concepts to both small groups and the whole class. Some activities could include:

  • Sort objects, pictures, and word cards according to a phonics concept
  • Write letters or words on small whiteboards
  • Arrange magnetic letters or letter cards to spell words
  • Make class charts of words representing phonics concepts
  • Make a poster or book of words representing a phonics concept
  • Locate other words that exemplify spelling patterns in books students are reading


Stage 1: Emergent Spelling – Children may put together scribbles, letters, and things that look like letters but are not able to read you what they wrote (they may be able to tell you but don’t know that the letters make sounds). Children will write randomly across the paper, not always left to right, but will have an understanding of it by the end of this stage. Typically 3- to 5-year-olds. During this stage children will learn these concepts:

  • The distinction between drawing and writing
  • How to make letters
  • The direction of writing on a page
  • Some letter-sound matches

Stage 2: Letter Name-Alphabetic Spelling – Students learn how the sounds in words can be represented by letters. At first, the words will seem short and only consist of the letters the student is hearing. Usually 5- to 7-year-olds. During this stage students will learn these concepts:

  • The alphabetic principle
  • Consonant sounds
  • Short vowel sounds
  • Consonant blends and digraphs

Stage 3: Within-Word Pattern Spelling – Begins when students start spelling most one-syllable, short-vowel words. May confuse some spelling patterns. Students start comparing short and long vowel sounds. Typically 7- to 9-year-olds. During this stage students will learn these concepts:

  • Long-vowel spelling patterns
  • r-controlled vowels
  • More complex consonant patterns
  • Diphthongs and other less common vowel patterns
  • Homophones

Stage 4: Syllables and Affixes Spelling – Start applying what they know about one-syllable words to words with multiple syllables. They learn the rules to inflectional endings such as changing y’s to i’s or dropping e’s before adding the ending. Generally 9- to 11-year-olds. During this stage students will learn these concepts:

  • Inflectional endings (-s, -es, -es, -ing)
  • Rules for adding inflectional endings
  • Syllabication
  • Compound words
  • Contractions

Stage 5: Derivational Relations Spelling – Students explore the relationship between spelling and meaning. Learn about words from people’s names such as maverick or sandwich. Usually 11- to 14-year-olds. During this stage students will learn these concepts:

  • Consonant alternations (soft > soften, magic > magician)
  • Vowel alternations (please > pleasant)
  • Greek and Latin affixes and root words
  • Etymologies

Teaching Spelling

Spelling tests can be used to teach spelling but should not be the only way. Teachers will: teach spelling strategies, match instruction to the spelling stage, provide opportunities for daily reading and writing, and teach students to spell high frequency words.

All above information comes from:
Tompkins, G. E. (2017). Literacy for the 21st century: A balanced approach (7th ed.). Boston: Pearson

Classroom Application

In the classroom I will make sure to use phonemic awareness, phonics, and spelling activities to create a balanced literacy program. I think it is important to teach something phonemically first so the students can learn how something sounds before they learn how to write it such as letter blends and vowel sounds. I would have a very literacy rich environment so students would be able to see words of common objects and associate them with something. Word walls also help with recognizing words because they are high frequency words that the students will be learning.

Kelsie Syverson, EngEd 275 DL, Chapter 4: The Youngest Readers and Writers



Nurturing Children’s Oral Language Development

Young children learn language through every day interactions especially with parents. They learn words from what they hear on a daily basis, this could be from television programs or what they hear from other people. Through these experiences, children learn these four language modes:

  • Phonology – Learn to produce sounds and to manipulate the language playfully
  • Syntax – Learn to combine words into different types of sentences and to use irregular verb forms, pronouns, and plural markers
  • Semantics – Acquire knowledge about the meanings of words
  • Pragmatics – Learn to use language socially, to have conversations, tell stories, and social conventions such as please and thank you

Oral Language Activities

Children then continue to develop language through different literacy activities. Interactive read alouds are one of the most popular activities, like reading stories and other books out loud. As children listen, they will learn new words and meanings and develop better sentence structure. Then after reading, children can participate in a grand conversation by using new vocabulary and concepts. Teachers can also use

  • Shared reading where the teacher reads a story while the children follow along, pick up on letters, words, and sentences
  • Interactive writing where the teacher places text that the children have written on a bookshelf for other students to read
  • Choral reading where students read together at the same time
  • Guided reading where the teacher supports a small group of students at the same reading level
  • Word walls where common words are sorted alphabetically and increase through grade level
  • Minilessons where a teacher teaches a small unit depending on what the students need to be learning

Assessing Children’s Oral Language

Teachers need to monitor children’s progress with oral language. These are some things that should be looked for:

  • Speak clearly in complete sentences
  • Respond to questions
  • Initiate conversations
  • Take turns
  • Ask questions
  • Participate in discussions
  • Sing songs and recite fingerplays
  • Tell about experiences

Teachers can assess these things through observations, anecdotal notes, checklists, and video clips.

Fostering an Interest in Literacy

Children get exposed to literacy before entering school by reading with a parent or caregiver and trying to write or having a message written to them.

Concepts About Print

Through a child’s home and interaction with places in their community, children begin to understand that print has meaning. Children also observe their parents and teachers who use written language to convey a message. Teachers can show the purpose of written language or give opportunities to experiment with reading and writing by:

  • Posting signs in the classroom
  • Making a list of classroom rules
  • Using reading and writing materials in literacy centers
  • Exchanging messages with classmates
  • Reading and writing stories
  • Labeling classroom items
  • Drawing and writing journals
  • Writing notes to parents

Children then also start to learn how to hold a book, turn pages, and to read from top to bottom and left to right. Children also begin to notice punctuation and learning the names of them.

Concepts About Words

Students need to develop the understanding of the literacy terms, such as word, letter, sound, and sentence. They will learn these words by having the teacher talk about them during reading and writing times, as well as showing them examples. There are four stages of word consciousness:

  1. Young children don’t differentiate between words and things
  2. They describe words as labels for things
  3. Children understand that words carry meaning and that stories are made from words
  4. more fluent readers and writers describe words as having meanings of their own

Through shared reading, teachers can point out words from the story for the students to see. Students can then repeat the word or words and will start to see that there are spaces that separate words and can start to see familiar words. By labeling items in the environment, or environmental print, the children will start recognizing certain words. Students can also experiment with their own writing and labeling of things throughout their play.

Concepts About the Alphabet

Children will also begin to recognize the alphabet, letters, and the sounds they make. These are some components of letter knowledge:

  • The letter’s name
  • How to write the letter in both upper- and lowercase
  • How to tell the letter apart from other letters
  • The direction the letter goes so that it is not confused with other letters such as and d
  • The use of letters in known words
  • The sound of letters
  • The sound of letter combinations such as th, sh, and ch
  • That letters may have more than one sound

Children can then use this knowledge to figure out words they don’t know when reading or how to spell it when writing.


Assessing Children’s Concepts About Written Language

Teachers can observe children as they look at books and reread familiar books to see progress of written language concepts. They can also watch children when they pretend to write or when they write their names or other familiar words. They can then see what children already know and what they still need work on. There are tests that can be done to assess student’s understanding of written language. The CAP (Concepts About Print) Test is one that can be used but a teacher can also create their own.

How Children Develop as Readers and Writers

Stage 1: Emergent Reading and Writing – Children are beginning to understand the concept of written language. They will notice environmental print and understand text as teachers read and write. Children should accomplish:

  • Develop an interest in reading and writing
  • Acquire concepts about print
  • Develop book-handling skills
  • Learn to identify the letters of the alphabet
  • Develop handwriting skills
  • Learn to read and write some high-frequency words

Students are usually in the emergent stage in kindergarten but some students may be more advanced depending if their parents read to them and provided them opportunities to explore with reading and writing.

Stage 2: Beginning Reading and Writing – Children are becoming more aware of the alphabetic principle. Children learn about word families and phonics rules in words. They also try to spell words phonetically. Children should accomplish:

  • Learn phonics skills
  • Recognize 100 high-frequency words
  • Apply reading strategies
  • Write five or more sentences
  • Spell phonetically
  • Spell 50 high-frequency words
  • Use capital letters to begin sentences
  • Use punctuation marks to end sentences
  • Reread their writing

Most first and second graders are beginning readers and writers. Children read slowly and stop often to figure out unfamiliar words. At the beginning students are pointing to each word but as they get more fluent, students may only point to words when the text is more difficult. Students also work on comprehension by making predictions.

Stage 3: Fluent Reading and Writing – Fluent readers recognize more than hundreds of words automatically and have strategies to figure out unfamiliar words. Fluent writers use the writing process to draft, revise, and publish their writings. Students also participate in revising groups to improve their writings but also help their classmates improve theirs. They recognize different genres. Children should accomplish:

  • Read fluently and with expression
  • Recognize most one-syllable words automatically and can decode other words efficiently
  • Use decoding and comprehension strategies effectively
  • Write well-developed, multi-paragraph compositions
  • Use the writing process to draft and refine their writing
  • Write stories, reports, letters, and other genres
  • Spell most high-frequency and other one-syllable words correctly
  • Use capital letters and punctuation marks correctly most of the time

Some second graders may reach this level but all children should be at this stage by the end of third grade. It is important to reach this stage because students will start to be expected to read chapter books, write to respond to literature, read from textbooks, and write essays and reports.

Instructional Practices

Teachers use many different types of instructional practices. These may include:

  • Morning Messages: Used daily as a literacy routine that teaches a literacy concept, strategy, and skill. Usually before children arrive, the teacher writes a brief message on chart paper, white board, or chalk board. This message will consist of what the students will be doing for the day and will be read at the beginning of the school day. Teachers typically use the same format for their morning messages to make it easier for the students to read. Some teachers may use a fill-in-the-blank morning message. Children need to help fill in the blanks, if needed the teacher can have cards to choose the words from. Students may also have news they want to share that the teacher may write out or students can write a classroom message together.
  • Predictable Books: These are books used during shared reading and have repeated sentences, rhymes, or other patterns. The four most common patterns are:
    • Repetition: Using repeating sentences or words.
    • Cumulative Sequence: Sentences are repeated and expanded
    • Rhyme and Rhythm: Adds musical quality to writing, rhymes are used to end sentences
    • Sequential Patterns: Use of familiar sequences like months of the year, days of the week, numbers, or letters of the alphabet

Language Experience Approach (LEA)

Based on children’s language and experiences. Teachers do shared writing where the children dictate words and sentences about their experiences and the teacher writes down what the students say, this becomes reading material. This is usually easy for the students to read because they wrote it and it is based on their experiences. Students can also make individual books or collaborative books where they draw pictures or cut them out of magazines and then tells what they want written on each page. Editing should be limited so that the student doesn’t feel like their words aren’t important.

Interactive Writing

Students and teachers create a text together. Children can compose the message and the teacher can help them to write it. Students take turns to write known letters or familiar words, and using punctuation. All children participate in creating and writing the text on a large surface, and they also write it on small whiteboards or paper. Then, children can read and reread the text. Students will learn concepts of print, letter-sound relationship and spelling patterns, handwriting concepts, and capitalization and punctuation skills.

Manuscript Writing

Children entering kindergarten all have different writing skills; some have never held a pencil before. Students of any age should be encouraged to write to work on handwriting skills. Instruction is important so students learn the write techniques that don’t need to be broken down the road. Kindergarten and first grade teachers usually have songs to help students how to write letters correctly that are easy for students to remember. Students can then practice making the letter in the air and then on paper or a whiteboard; worksheets are not helpful in forming letters correctly. Teachers need to supervise students as they are writing letters so that errors can be corrected immediately. It is important for the letters to start at the top and go to the bottom, left to right, and clockwise for circles.

All above information comes from:
Tompkins, G. E. (2017). Literacy for the 21st century: A balanced approach (7th ed.). Boston: Pearson

Writing Objectives

Objectives should be student centered. They are also SMART:

S: Specific and Student Centered

M: Measurable

A: Attainable

R: Relevant/Result-Oriented

T: Time-Bound

Objective should also be written in the terms of “students will be able to”

Bloom’s Wheel

Classroom Application

There are many things that I would love to use in my classroom some day as a preschool/kindergarten teacher. I loved the routines to help teach the alphabet and would be something to help young students to help learn their ABCs. I think the acronym for writing an objective is very helpful for when I will be writing objectives because it is an easy way to help me remember everything that should be included in a well written objective.

Kelsie Syverson, EngEd 275 DL, Chapter 3: Assessing Literacy Development

When assessing literacy development there are four steps that need to be followed:

Step 1: Planning for Assessment

Teacher should be planning their assessment techniques are they are creating lesson plans. There are many different types of assessment that can be used. By choosing which assessment will be used during planning the assessment process goes more smoothly.

Step 2: Monitoring Students’ Progress

Teachers monitor their students’ progress every day to help them better instruct their students. Teachers use both formal and informal assessment by testing and observing.

  • Observations: During the observation process it is important to focus on what is being observed and not whether the student is behaving or not, even though it is hard to learn when there are disruptions going on but that is not what is being observed. Teachers can focus on a group of students a day so that by the end of the week all the students have been observed.
  • Running Records: These work well during reading because the teacher can write down everything as the child is reading; if they are getting sight words correct, how they handle words they don’t know, and what reading strategies they might use.
  • Minilessons: Minilessons can help focus observations to certain topics, this could include reading and writing. If a teacher wants to observe how well students know sentence structure they can do a minilesson on it to see what students already know and what they still need help with.
  • Anecdotal Notes: These are brief notes written on sticky notes, scrap paper, or in a notebook on something a teacher sees a student doing. Just because these are brief notes does not mean they shouldn’t be detailed. During reading and writing activities, teachers can write notes on questions students ask or strategies that they use.
  • Conferences: Teachers can have a variety of conferences with their students. A teacher can have individual conferences with students as they are working on something so that each students gets a minute or two of the teachers time if they have questions or if the teacher just wants to see what strategies they are using. They can also make plans with the students about reading or writing goals. During reading conferences the teacher can discuss strategies, vocabulary, or a reading schedule. During a writing conference, teachers can help students with topics and narrowing them down. They can also have evaluation conferences with students after they complete an assignment or project to show them the progress they have made and help students to set new goals.
  • Checklists: Teachers set up these checklists before teaching a lesson so students know what is expected of them. Checklists are useful as all students are graded on the same criteria. Teachers could use checklists during book talks where students share a book they have read to their classmates to get them interested in the book too. This way all the students would know what they need to include to get a passing grade.

Step 3: Evaluating Students’ Learning

Tests are one way to evaluate students’ learning but work samples and rubrics can be used too. Teachers collect work samples from students through out the year, work could include: recordings of the student reading, reading logs, writing samples, and pictures of projects the student has done. The student may also choose work that they are proud of to be placed in the portfolio, to display all of the progress the student has made. Teachers can also use rubrics, which are forms that are used for scoring an assignment. They are similar to a checklist; however, a rubric has a scale of how well the student completed the task instead of a simple did they do it or not. Students can use the rubric to self-assess their work before they turn it in. Rubrics have a scale ranging from best to worst, the teacher should provide samples of each level of work. Evaluating helps to tell where the student is at but can also tell the teacher how effective they are being.

Step 4: Reflecting on Students’ Learning

Teachers need to reflect on how well they teach their lessons and if the students seemed to understand or if the teacher should try teaching it a different way. Students can do self-reflections to take responsibility for their own learning. The teacher reads the students reflections but does not grade them, instead they are used to help students set goals for the next unit during conferences with the teacher.

Determining a Student’s Reading Level

Teachers need to make sure that they get each student on the right reading level because students who read books that are too easy or too hard don’t succeed. There are three different reading levels that help students to become fluent readers, recognize words automatically, and comprehend what they are reading.

  1. Independent Reading Level: Students can read books on their own without struggling. They know almost all of the words with an accuracy rate of 95-100%. The student is reading fluently and in understanding what they are reading.
  2. Instructional Reading Level: Students read with support but not on their own because these books are a little bit harder than those in the independent reading level. They know most words with an accuracy rate of 90-94%. The reading may be fluent but not always. The students comprehends the book with support from a teacher or classmate that they may not understand if they read it by themselves.
  3. Frustration Reading Level: These books are too hard for students to read even with teacher assistance. Students don’t recognize enough words and the accuracy rate is less than 90%. Reading is choppy and most likely will not make sense. Students will also not understand what they are reading.

Students should be evaluated regularly to make sure they are in the right reading level. The Common Core Standards state that students should be reading at their grade level by the end of the year which is why teachers may use a lot of grade level materials but readers who are a few grades below grade level may struggle with this. Teachers need to know their students and make adaptations as needed. This is where teachers can use guided reading so that all students can follow along and see the words as they are being read.

Readability formulas help to figure out a students reading level. If a book is marked RL 5 teachers assume that most 5th graders should be able to read it. Students are given passages to read and depending how well they read them depends on their reading level. There are then leveled books that correspond with the students reading level. As the student improves they can begin to read at the next level.

The Lexile Framework can also be used to determine what books are best for students to read. Word familiarity and sentence complexity are the two factors that are used to figure out the difficulty of a book. Lexile scores range from 100-1300 for grade levels K-12. Teachers, students, and families can use the online Lexile database to find books at the right reading level.

Diagnosing Students’ Strengths and Weaknesses

Diagnosing students’ strengths and weakness is important in the ways they learn and if the teacher needs to modify their instruction in any way.

  • Running records can be used to assess a students reading by writing down every detail as a student reads a book. This can tell word identification and fluency of the reading. Teachers can have a copy of what the student is reading and make marks above the words the students knows, doesn’t know, mispronounces, replaces, or figures out on their own. The miscues are analyzed to see if the student is making similar errors. Only mispronounced or replaced words are analyzed, not repetitions or omissions.
  • Informal reading inventories (IRIs) are commercial tests that can be used to evaluate a student’s reading performance for students 1st through 8th but don’t seem to be as useful in 1st grade. IRIs can be used to identify where the students are struggling such as word identification, oral reading fluency, or comprehension. These tests have two parts: a graded word list and a passage. The word lists have about 10-20 words for each level where the students keep reading words until they can’t identify anymore. This will indicate what level the student will read the passage at. Teachers can then look for patterns in the words that the student misread and figure out how to better help this student. Students then read the passage either out loud or silently, when they are done the teacher asks comprehension questions such as recall questions, drawing inferences questions, and explaining vocabulary words questions. When reading aloud students can be graded on fluency but students over 3rd grade should be fluent readers at their grade level and if they are, they can read silently. Look for pattern when the students answer the comprehension questions to see where they may need more help.

Oral Language Assessment for English Learners

Students who are not native English speakers and have a different native language get assessed on their English language proficiency. Tests are typically given to measure this and depending on the results, the students may get placed in a special class to help with their English language proficiency. Teachers can also use the Students Oral Language Observation Matrix (SOLOM) which isn’t a test but more of a rating scale. The 5 components of oral language that the SOLOM looks at are:

  1. Listening
  2. Fluency
  3. Vocabulary
  4. Pronunciation
  5. Grammar

Each component is ranked from 1 to 5 for a maximum of 25 points. A score of 20 or higher means the student is a fluent speaker. The SOLOM is available at the Center of Applied Linguistics website free of charge.

Reading Assessment for English Learners

English learners also struggle with learning to read too. They learn the same as a native English speaker but doesn’t have as much of the background knowledge as an English speaker. The same assessments are used to figure out their reading level, measure progress, and document their learning. Teachers can create KWL charts with students to see what they already know (K), what they want to learn (W), and then at the end, what they did learn (L). This lets the teacher know what the students know and what they are interested in learning before the reading has happened. Students can also assess themselves as readers.

High Stakes Testing

These tests are designed to measure students’ learning according to the grade-level standards. High stakes testing is different from classroom assessments and typically provides very little information to improve instruction in the classroom. Scores are used to determine where to place students in certain classes and allows the administration to evaluate teacher effectiveness.

There are many problems with high stakes testing such as students feeling pressured or students not caring how they do. Because teachers are getting evaluated, they spend more time having students take practice tests or teaching for the test, students are losing time for actual reading and writing. Teachers are also more focused on those who are below grade-level, so that they can improve their test scores.

Students learn to use test taking strategies depending on what type of test they are taking. These strategies include:

  • Reading the entire question first
  • Looking for key words in the question
  • Reading all answer choices before choosing the correct answer
  • Answer easier questions first
  • Make smart guesses
  • Stick with your first answer
  • Pace yourself
  • Check your work carefully

Portfolio Assessment

Students choose items to put in their portfolios that they are proud of but also show progress throughout the year. Students learn to make meaningful selections that fit the established criteria. Because the students are picking the items for their portfolios, the assessing process includes both the student and their work. The portfolios show the progress the students are making by the artifacts they choose, then the teachers, students, and their families can see the progress. Students also reflect on the materials they put in their portfolios. At the end of the year, the teacher organizes a day for students to share their portfolios with classmates, teachers, families, and community members. This allows students to show pride in the progress they have made and take responsibility for the artifacts they have created.

All above information comes from:
Tompkins, G. E. (2017). Literacy for the 21st century: A balanced approach (7th ed.). Boston: Pearson

Classroom Application

I would love to have portfolios in my classroom that students choose what they put in to it. This is a great way to show families the progress their students are making and seeing what they are doing in the classroom. I also think it is important to have a balanced approach to teaching and learning and not just teaching for a test. I think students learn just as much from reading aloud and writing essays/papers as they would from learning things that are on a test that the students need to take. Of course, I would use the 4 steps of assessment in my classroom to help guide my teaching as well as see where students are with their learning.

Dr. Churchill’s Lesson Plan Overview

Dr. Churchill gives a great explanation of what to put into the lesson plan. I now understand what needs to be on the lesson plan and will continue to refer back to this video as needed.

Kelsie Syverson, EngEd 275 DL, Chapter 2: The Reading and Writing Processes

The Reading Process

The reading process consists of 5 stages that the students work through while reading a book or story so that they can comprehend what they read. Students use the phonological system to assist with reading and understanding. This means that use their phonemic awareness, or the way they manipulate the sounds of words, and phonics rules to comprehend what is read and to understand meanings of words. Students also use word identification when reading, where they can easily read the words the know but may need to break up or sound out words they don’t know. This may cause readers to take a longer time to complete their reading. Once students are able to recognize more words and begin to read quicker they gain fluency. When students become more fluent readers, they can comprehend better. Students also need to think about the vocabulary, or meaning of the words they are reading, which also increases comprehension. Comprehension uses both the reader and the text to create an understanding of what is read. So let’s look at the 5 stages of the reading process; prereading, reading, responding, exploring, and applying.

  • Stage 1 – Prereading: Prereading happens before students even open the book and is used to get students ready to read. The students begin to use their background knowledge, set purposes, and make plans for reading. Background knowledge is information that the student already knows, which includes general knowledge but also literary knowledge about books. The teacher may need to build on some background knowledge of a book. A purpose also needs to be set; this can be set by the teacher or the student. A purpose explains how the students are going to read and what they will do when they are finished with the book. Then the students can make a plan for reading. Students can make predictions or flip through pages and look at illustrations.
  • Stage 2 – Reading: Reading can be done independently and silently but most teachers like to use these five strategies; reading aloud to students, shared reading, guided reading, partner reading, and independent reading.
    • Reading aloud to students: Teachers read to students but keep students engaged through asking questions, repeating refrains, making predictions, identifying big ideas, or making connections. Reading aloud also models for students what good readers sounds like.
    • Shared reading: Shared reading also models what a fluent reader sounds like for students. The teacher can use large books for students to follow along or each student gets their own book. This is different from reading aloud because the students have the opportunity to follow along with the text. Students can read along with the teacher at repeated phrases, rhyming words, or parts that they remember if the story has been read to them before. Students can also do the reading too, students can join in as the teacher is reading and the teacher will drop off to let the student read by themselves. Students can continue this process as they feel comfortable. Students should have good fluency when reading so that the story is still comprehensible. 
    • Guided reading: Guided reading is done in groups of four or five students that are at the same reading level. The teacher may start reading the book aloud but students typically do most of the reading themselves. Younger students may murmur words as they read but older students read silently. Lessons last about 25-30 minutes and may include rereading familiar books or introducing new books. Teachers observe the readers and spend a few minutes with each student to see what reading strategies a student might be using or how they figure out words they don’t know.
    • Partner reading: Students read with a partner or an older student. Students work together to read passages that they might not have been able to read by themselves. Students can discuss unfamiliar words or what is happening in the story. Teachers need to demonstrate to students how this is done by showing how to support your partner when they read. Students can either take turns reading or read at the same time. With this strategy the teacher needs to make sure to explain that the partners are suppose to read equally and not just one person reading the whole time.
    • Independent reading: The students read by themselves and usually silently, this way the students can read at their own pace. Students do more independent reading when they become more fluent readers.
  • Stage 3 – Responding: This means students are responding to what they read and trying to understand it. To allow students to do this reading logs can be provided. Reading logs are where students write down or draw their thoughts and feelings about what they read. Student can make their own reading logs by stapling together 10-12 sheets a blank paper and illustrating the cover to reflect the story they are reading. They then write entries after they finish reading each time. Teachers may choose a question to be answered about the reading or the students may choose what they are going to write about. Teachers read these logs while the students are still reading the stories and makes comments about what they wrote. Teachers shouldn’t be over worried about spelling and grammar as long as they are answering the questions or completing the entries correctly. Reading logs should also be graded on completeness and quality when the students are finished with their books. Students can also participate in a grand discussion where the students talk with their classmates about what was read. Personal opinions can be discussed as well as the content of the story. Teachers can guide students by asking questions. Discussions can be done with the whole class or in small groups.
  • Stage 4 – Exploring: This stage is more teacher guided than the other stages.  Students reread selections from the text and analyze them. When rereading students start to comprehend the selection more than when they initially read it. Teachers then ask text-based questions such as author’s purpose, ideas. structural elements, word choice, sentence structure, and viewpoint. Teachers choose texts that need repeated reading so that students learn to analyze what they read. Students can use story boards to sequence events and get an image of the characters and plot. Students could also right a sequel to the story that they read, what they think will happen next. Students can also explore new words and their meanings. This can be done by using a word wall. Word walls consist of words that the teacher wants students to focus on but also words the students add. Students can then use these words when writing  or creating activities like word sorts, where the students are putting the words into categories together. The teacher can also use minilessons to teach concepts, strategies, and skills to help the students explore more.
  • Stage 5 – Applying: Students are now applying what they learned and creating projects to show their comprehension. These projects can include slide shows, posters, readers theatre performances, essays, or podcasts. With readers theatre students are choosing a part/scene from the book that they want to act out in front of the class. Projects can be done independently, with a partner, in a small group or the whole class may choose to do something together.

The Writing Process

The writing process also has 5 stages; prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing. These stages may occur more than once.

  • Stage 1 – Prewriting: Prewriting is when we are getting ready to write, the student is choosing a topic, considering a purpose and genre, and gathering and organizing their ideas. Student should choose their own topic from something they are interested in and have some knowledge about. Sometimes the teacher may choose a topic to write about but the teacher should make it a broad enough topic for students to narrow down to something that interests them. Students then need to choose the purpose for their writing; for example, is it for entertainment or to inform or persuade. Then students begin to brainstorm ideas by drawing pictures, making lists, reading books, searching the internet, or talking to classmates or others who may know about the topic.
  • Stage 2 – Drafting: This is when the students are writing their first drafts and organizing their ideas more structurally. Drafts are messy and are usually just a bunch of ideas formed into sentences on a page, things may be crossed out of arrows might be drawn. When writing rough drafts, every other line should be written on to leave room for editing. Only one side of the paper should be used in case the student needs to cut, rearrange, and tape it back together for it to make more sense. The paper should be marked rough draft to others understand that it is full of content but isn’t ready for grading yet.
  • Stage 3 – Revising: Revising consists of rereading the rough draft, having someone else look at it, and then revising according to the feedback. When students finish writing their rough drafts, they need to take a day or two away from it so that they can come back and read it with a fresh mind instead of just reading what they wanted written. Changes can then be made before taking it to someone else to get their perspective on it. Students can go to a revising group where other students make suggestions on changes that could be made or parts that may need more clarification. Revising groups may consist of students that finished their rough drafts around the same time or teachers can assign groups with leaders. Four or five students meet at the same time and read their own papers to the group, the group members are expected to listen and give ideas on revisions. Students then make revisions, these could be additions, subtractions, deletions, or moves.
  • Stage 4 – Editing: This is where the student is putting their paper into a final form. Students make sure words are spelt correctly, correct capitalization is used, and punctuation is used correctly. Again, the student may need to take a day or two away from the writing so they can have a fresh mind going back to it. Students need to proofread their papers to see if they find any mistakes. Teachers can demonstrate proofreading by having something written on the board. They then read it slowly looking for errors, errors are marked when found. Checklists may help students look for specific errors such as capitalization or punctuation. Students then use a red pen to correct their errors. Editing can end when the student and another student feel like they have found all the errors, or they get a final check from the teacher.
  • Stage 5 – Publishing: Students can publish their writings by making books. Books can be made many different ways; by folding paper, stapling paper, or cutting paper. The books should consist of heavier paper on the outside that the students can decorate how they want. These books can then be shared with the class, the school, families, or even the community. Students can share their writings in class by sitting in a special chair and reading to their classmates. Classmates can then ask questions or make comments when the student is done reading.

Reading Strategies

There are four main reading strategies:

  • Decoding Strategies: Students use phonics to identify unfamiliar words
  • Word-Learning Strategies: Students analyze word parts to figure out meanings of unknown words
  • Comprehension Strategies: Students predict, draw inferences, and visual to help understand what they are reading
  • Study Strategies: Students take notes and question to learn new information

Writing Strategies

There are five main writing strategies:

  • Prewriting Strategies: Students organize thought to develop ideals before they start to write
  • Drafting Strategies: Students narrow down topics to focus on ideas for their first draft
  • Revising Strategies: Students find problems, elaborate on ideas, and combine sentences to help convey their ideas better
  • Editing Strategies: Students proofread to spell word correctly and use proper grammar
  • Publishing Strategies: Students design a layout for preparing their final copy to share with their classmates and other

How Would I Use This in My Classroom

I would use the Reading Process to work with students on ways to better comprehend what they are reading. I think prereading is very important because it allows the readers to make predictions about what they think the story is going to be about by what the title is or what they see one the cover. I also think that the last stage, the applying stage, is important because this is where the students can show what they have learned.

I would use the Writing Process even with beginner writers who are just starting to learn how to put words together. Again, I think the prewriting stage is very important because the students are choosing what they want to write about and are beginning to come up with ideas or do research to assist in the writing process.

All information comes from:
Tompkins, G. E. (2017). Literacy for the 21st century: A balanced approach (7th ed.). Boston: Pearson