Kelsie Syverson, EngEd 463, Chapters 11 and 12: Assessment and Differentiations and Interventions for Struggling Readers

Chapter 11: Assessment

How to Determine a Student’s Reading Level

Students read passages at different reading level. These materials can be found at many different places but the one that I have used and liked was Their materials are all leveled out with assessment materials as well as books for students to read and activities to go with them.

To assess the student, the teacher should have the student read a passage aloud, beginning with one that the student can handle reading. Mark the reading in some way so that the errors can be counted and assessed. When the student is done reading, they should be asked comprehension questions for assessment too.

You have found the students instructional level when they receive 95% on oral reading and 75% on comprehension. Prior knowledge and interest do play a big part in a students comprehension so keep that in mind when coming up with assessments.

What are Good Literacy Behaviors and How Can We Document Student Progress

There are three types of assessment typically used in the classroom.

  1. Diagnostic assessment – determining a student’s reading level
  2. Summative assessment – assessments that are taken at the conclusion of something, such as a lesson or a unit
  3. Formative assessment – used to see where students are at that moment and the teacher can see if they need to reteach something or move on to the next topic

Teachers should be assessing almost daily to monitor how well the students are doing.

Assessing Word Identification

The goal of word instruction is to teach students words and strategies they can use when they are reading and writing. Listen to how fluently a student reads, how automatically they identify the words on the word wall, and how they use patterns, context, and other cues to figure out unknown words. Make a record of the students word-identification accuracy so that you can analyze errors, hesitations, and self-corrections to determine what word strategies the student is actually using.

Assessing Comprehension Strategies

*Comprehension strategies were talked about in the Chapter 7 blog.

Comprehension is dependent on the students’ prior knowledge and interest. It is hard to comprehend something if you don’t know what it is. Use a checklist of general comprehension strategies to periodically check on the students’ use of these comprehension strategies.

Assessing Writing

*Writing was also talked about in the Chapter 9 blog.

The best way to determine how well students write is to observe them each day as they are writing, to look at first-draft writing samples, and to interact with them during writing conferences.

Assessing Attitudes and Interests

It is important to determine what the students like to read and how they feel about reading early in the school year. To do this, ask students to bring in their favorite books they read over the summer. Some students will bring in a lot of books and some students might bring in 1 or 2 books. Ask students questions about the books and ask why they liked it. Make notes of the books and the reasons. Some of students may bring books but then show no interest or know what they liked about the book, make note of this too.

Classroom Application

Of course, I will use assessment in my classroom often to know where the students are at and where I should be going next as the teacher. I never thought about assessing the students attitudes and interests with reading so this will definitely be something that I will do in the classroom that I think is very important.

Chapter 12: Differentiation and Interventions for Struggling Readers

Differentiation and Intervention

Assessment is essential to differentiation. Only when you know what your individual students can do and cannot yet do, can you make good decision about how to spend your instructional time and what kind of lessons and grouping will move all students forward.

RTI is generally implemented as 3 tiers of instruction. Tier 1 instruction occurs in the regular classroom. If assessments demonstrate that the students are not making adequate progress in spite of focused and differentiated classroom instruction, these students are to be given Tier 2 instruction. Tier 2 instruction is additional to the Tier 1 instruction. Tier 2 instruction is often delivered in small groups and is targeted to specific instructional needs. Students who are still not making adequate progress may be assessed for a special need and will receive Tier 3 instruction. Tier 3 instruction is delivered by a teacher specifically trained to teacher students with special needs.

Classroom Application

Assessment will be used to drive instruction. RTI will be used and students will be assessed to see what type of intervention will best fit them.

Kelsie Syverson, EngEd 463, Chapter 10: Reading and Writing Across the Curriculum

*Some of these ideas were written about or had pictures in a previous post from Ch. 8.

Main Idea Trees

Main idea trees are used to write about a main idea and then branch off to think of supporting ideas and then the branch off of those supporting ideas with more supporting ideas for those ideas. Then the students can create sentences or paragraphs about their main idea using the supporting ideas.

Of course, the teacher will model what this looks like. For example, if the teacher has a tree about dogs and the supporting ideas of pets, appearance, and activities with additional supporting ideas for those things, the teacher may write this:

A dog can be a pet. Pets are animals that live in homes and are taken care of by people. People love their pets and play with them. Other pets may be cats or fish.

These ideas would all be on the tree that the students have created to organize their ideas before writing. Main idea trees can be used for a variety of topics.

Time Lines

Time lines are used to organize events in the order that they happened. This can be useful while reading a story where the time in which event occurs matters or it could be used when learning about the history of something. These timelines can then be used to write a paragraph that makes sense because it follows in order. This may look like this:

In 1992, Sarah was born and grew up in Virginia. Sarah’s family moved to Georgia in 1997 when Sarah turned 5. She loved living in Georgia and hoped to live there the rest of her life but unfortuately her dad got a new job and they had to move to Wisconsin in Spetember of 1998 when Sarah was starting school.

Time lines can be used to make a summary of historical events too such as wars or inventions.

Compare and Contrast Bubble

Compare and contrast bubbles are used for just that, comparing and contrasting different things. These things could include books, authors, countries, animals, plants, etc. These are great to organize your ideas when you are doing research on two or three different things because you can write the things that are different in the circles but then write the things that are similar in the overlapping part of the circles. This would then give the student a good 3-4 paragraphs to write depending on the number of things they are comparing.


Think-writes are short, quick bits of writing that help the students focus and clarify their thinking. Think-writes are writing that the students are doing just for them, so the spelling and grammar may not be perfect. These can be written on scrap pieces of paper to show that they are just quick writes to be written down and can be fixed later if needed.

One way to use these is at the beginning of a lesson when you are teaching something new. Students can quickly write down what they already know. The teacher usually gives the students about 2-5 minutes to write. The students don’t even have to use sentences but could just make a list of things they know. When time is up, the students can volunteer to share a few things that they have written.

Think-writes can be used to make predictions too, what a story is going to be about or what is going to happen during a science experiment. By using think-writes, you are giving all of the students a chance to think and come up with their own ideas.

Classroom Application

All of the above ideas can be used across different subject areas which is something that I love about them. I have never heard of think-writes before but this is something I would love to use in my classroom. I like that they can be used to introduce a topic, during the middle of a lesson, or to conclude a lesson or unit so show what the students have learned.

Kelsie Syverson, EngEd 463, Chapter 9: Writing

Writer’s Workshop

This is the process of students choosing their own topics and then writing, revising, editing, and publishing. It should begin with a mini-lesson during which the teacher models writing. Then, the students write. You then conference with them and coach them on how to revise, edit, and publish. Concludes with an Author’s Chair, in which students read their writing and get responses from the other “writers” in the room.

Limit the amount of time your students write for the first few weeks of school. Eventually, you want them writing for 15-20 minutes, but it is better to start with smaller amount of time, perhaps 6-7 minutes.

The goal is that you want the students to look forward to the writing time and you want them to see writing as a way of telling about themselves and the things that are important to them.


  • Begin with an 8-10 minute mini-lesson
  • Model for students what you do about spelling
    • Sound it out
    • Use the word wall or other resources around the room
  • Do not spell the words for the students
  • Circulate and encourage the writers

Editors Checklist

This is something that the teacher and students can come up with together during one of the mini-lessons. These should be things that students will look for during the editing process. An example of this is:

  • Do all the sentences make sense?
  • Do all the sentences have ending puntuation?
  • Do all the sentences start with a capital letter?
  • Are the words I need to check for spelling circled?
  • Do names and places start with a capital letter?
  • Do all my sentences stay on topic?

This check list can be introduced one item at a time and then worked on during the mini-lesson for that day.

Peer Editing

Once students have had a lot of experience editing the teacher’s piece each day, they can learn how to edit with a partner. The teacher will model this by choosing a student to edit their writing, the teacher will choose a different student every day until all students seem to understand the process.

Author’s Chair

Student’s can share anything they have written since their last day in the Author’s Chair. Of course, when a student publishes a piece, they read that. The focus is exclusively on the message that the author is trying to convey.


Students choose a piece to publish when they have written 3-4 good pieces. All students will be at different stages, so they will not all be publishing at the same time. Some will be working on writing first drafts, picking drafts to publish, editing with a friend, having a conference with the teacher, fixing a piece after a conference and will be copying, typing, and illustrating the final product.

  1. Pick one piece that you want to publish
  2. Choose a friend and peer edit your piece for the items on the checklist
  3. Sign up for a writing conference
  4. Work with the teacher in a conference to edit your piece and fix spelling
  5. Copy or type your piece, making all the corrections
  6. Illustrate your piece

The Writing Conference

Be sure that each child edits his or her piece with a friend before signing up for a writing conference with the teacher. The teacher’s goal in publishing is to have students experience the pride of being authors ad having others read and enjoy their writing.

Fix the spellings of words, add punctuation and capitalization, clarify sentences that do not make sense, delete sentences that are totally off the topic, and do whatever else is necessary to help the student produce a masterpiece of writing.

Giving Additional Support to Struggling Writers

Once you begin publishing, you need to include everyone in the process. The goal is for everyone to feel like a real writer because he or she has some published pieces.

Help them choose pieces they want to publish and them give them the option of reading or telling what they want to say. Help them construct their pieces. As they tell, write down their sentences or have them use text to talk. Read the sentences with them several times to make sure they know what they say. Cut the sentences apart and have the student illustrate each one and put them all together into a book. You do not give this support to all students, if you feel like you need to, then you should go back to a mini-lesson.

Adding Revising to Writer’s Workshop

Editing is fixing mistakes and making the writing easy for the reader to read. Revising is makeing the writing better, clearer, more interesting, more dramatic, more informative, more persuasive, more anything.

  • Adding Revising Strategy
    • Adding is the easiest revising strategy and should be taught first
    • Adding words or phrases can make the meanings of their pieces clearer and more vivid
  • Replacing Revising Strategy
    • Replacing is another revising strategy all writers use
    • Makes writing better by improving the quality of what is already there
    • Can replace words, phrases, sentences, or whole chunks of text
  • Reordering and Removing Revising Strategies
    • Revising by reordering should not be taught until students can revise by adding and replacing
    • When se finish writing something , we realize that something we included does not really add anything to our writing or distracts the reader from the point we are trying to make

Prompt-Based Lessons for Opinion Pieces

The teacher will create a prompt for the students to write about. This prompt will include something that will be unique to each student by making them give their opinion on something.

Revising Opinion Pieces

  1. Introduce the topic clearly and state your opinion about it
  2. Give good reasons supported by facts and details
  3. Use words like because, for example, specifically, therefore, and consequently to connect your opinion with your reasons
  4. Provide a concluding sentence or paragraph

Focused Writing Lessons for Informative/Explanatory Texts

  1. Introduce the topic
  2. Give facts and details about the topic
  3. Have an ending statement or section
  4. Define a few important words if your readers might not know them
  5. Group related information together
  6. Use words like also, another, and , more, but, in contrast, and especially to connect related ideals together

Focused Writing for Narratives

  1. Introduc the narrator, one or more character, or both
  2. Describe the setting and situation you narrator or main character is in
  3. Have a sequence of events that feels natural to your readers
  4. Have an ending that follows from what happened and what the characters experienced
  5. Use dialogue and description to tell what happened
  6. Use dialogue or description to show how characters feel about what happened
  7. Use concrete words and phrases and sensory details to convey what happens
  8. Use some transitional words and phrases to convey the sequence of events

Classroom Application

I like the Writer’s Workshop, the process of having students write, edit, and publish their work. This will help students to enjoy writing and learn how to make their writing better. I also like the idea of the Author’s Circle. This way students can share what they have written with their peers and receive feedback on what they have written. I would maybe start this with journal writing and having students read things that they have written in their journals.

Kelsie Syverson, EngEd 463, Chapter 8: Reading Informational Text

Informational Text

When we read informational text, we need to do close reading so that we learn not only the big ideas but the facts and details that support those big ideas. Informational text has three common text structures – descriptive, sequential, and comparative. Informational text has special feature – maps, photos, charts, graphs, headings, bold words, and others – which require special reading strategies.

When we read informational text we:

  • Call up and connect relevant prior knowledge
  • Predict, question, and wonder about what will be learned
  • Visualize and imagine
  • Monitor and use fix-up strategies
  • Summarize the most important ideas
  • Draw conclusions and make inferences
  • Evaluate and make judgments

Guess Yes or No

Focuses your student’s attention on important details in informational text by having them predict, before they read, which statements are true and which are false. First, you will read and construct 10 statements, some of which are true and some are false. Write the false statements so that they can be turned into true statements by changing one or two words. Include some statements that require students to make logic inferences to decide whether they are true or false. Also, include in the statements key vocabulary words students need to be able to pronounce and understand in order to fluently read the text.

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Use the “gradual release of responsibility model” when teaching comprehension lessons. The class will watch and listen as you model how to figure out whether the first two statements are true or false. They will help figure out the next two. Then the students will work together in trios to complete the final six statements. The assigned trios should include one good reader and one struggling reader.

Find It or Figure It Out

Your brain puts information you read together with information you know and figure out many things that are not directly stated. Find It or Figure It Out can be used to teach students how to use the information in the text and their prior knowledge to figure things out. Read the text and construct questions for each two-page spread. Make sure that the answers to the “find it” questions are quite literal and can be found “right there” in a sentence or two. Construct the “figure it out” questions so that they require the students to make logical inferences. The answers are not right there but there are clues that let you figure out what the answers are.

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Different Text Structures

Comprehending informational text requires all the strategies required for comprehending stories. In addition, readers must be able to follow the three different text structures commonly found in informational text and use the special features of informational text. These include:

  • Descriptive text: describes one thing
  • Compare and Contrast: tells the differences and similarities between two things
  • Sequence: organizes ideas or events according to the sequence in which they occur

Main Idea Trees

A tree can help children visualize and organize information. The topic you are learning about is the trunk of the tree. The main ideas about that topic are the large main branches and the details that relate to each main idea are the small branches that go off the large branches.

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Time Lines

Time lines help us organize information in which the sequence of events is what is important.

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Compare/Contrast Bubbles

Also known as Venn diagrams

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This teaches students to use the visuals in an informational text to build vocabulary and to predict what they will read. The lesson begins with students seated in trios and talking about 10-15 visuals from the text they are about to read. Students have 20 seconds to look at each visual, talk about it, and try to predict words they will read connected to the visual. . Next students have 8 minutes to write as many words as they can think will occur. At the end of 8 minutes, students look at their words and choose one word they think all the other groups will also have, one word they think is unique to their group, and one word they are most interested in. Next, the trios read the text together. They put a check on each word they listed that actually occurred and add five words they wish they had thought of. The class reconvenes and shares their discoveries. At the end of the lesson, students write a short paragraph using as man of their words as they can to tell what they have learned. IMG_E1247 (1)IMG_E1248 (1)

Text Feature Scavenger Hunt

Learning how to read visuals – pictures, maps, charts, and graphs – and how headings, highlighted words, and other informational text features help us is not something most elementary students get excited about. You can make it fun and engaging by organizing your class into teams and sending them on a scavenger hunt.

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Classroom Application

I would love to use all of the strategies listed above. My favorite was the scavenger hunt as a fun way to have students use the text to find their answers. I also really liked the Main Ideas Tree. I am a very visual learner and this was a great visual as well as a great organizational tool to organize ideas. Comprehension is so important that having all of these methods to help with informational texts will be so helpful in the classroom some day.

Kelsie Syverson, EngEd 463, Chapter 7: Comprehension

Comprehension Strategies

  • Calling up and connecting relevant prior knowledge
  • Predicting, questioning, and wondering about what will be learned and what will happen
  • Visualizing or imagining what the experience would look, feel, sound, taste, and smell like
  • Monitoring comprehension and using fix-up strategies such as rereading, pictures, and asking for help when you cannot make sense of what you read
  • Determining conclusions and making inferences based on what was read
  • Evaluating and making judgements about what you think: Did you like it? Did you agree? Was it funny? Could it really happen?

The goal is for your students to use them not just during the lessons, but to become automatic at thinking strategically whenever and wherever they are reading.

The different ways in which various reading materials are organized are referred to as text structures and genres. Students may have a harder time comprehending informational texts as they don’t get as much exposure to them and the way the information is organized.

A teacher can model comprehension strategies to students by using:

  1. I do, you watch (Teacher models)
  2. I do, you help (Teacher models and invited suggestions from students)
  3. You do it together, I help (Students apply strategies in small groups with teacher support as needed)
  4. You do, I watch (Students apply strategies independently, teacher observes and assesses)


A way of modeling the thinking that goes on inside your head as you read. Explain to students that we have a voice in our heads that helps make sense of what we are reading and then model what this might look like while reading a text. Try to use the comprehension strategies listed above as you do this.

Comprehending Narrative Texts

  • Story Maps: Includes main characters, the setting, the problem, events, the solution, and the story theme or moral. Students will start with figuring out who the main characters are, where the story takes place, and the problem for the main characters. They will then think of events that lead up to the solution for the problem. They can then think of the story’s theme or the moral of the story. what did the story teach us. The teacher can start by modeling this with the students and slowly move to the students working on it independently.
  • The Beach Ball: Used to help students develop the ability to understand and retell stories. Write questions on the sections of the beach ball to work on these things. Students will gently toss the ball to another student by saying their name before they throw it. The student who catches it will answer the question that is facing them. The questions can include:
    • Who are the main characters?
    • What is the setting?
    • What happened at the beginning?
    • What happened in the middle?
    • How did it end?
    • What was your favorite part?
  • Compare/Contrast Bubbles: This may also be known as a Venn diagram. The students could compare/contrast things from one story like the characters or they could compare/contrast two different stories.

Classroom Application

I love the last three activities that I listed, especially the beach ball activity. This makes the activity different and more interactive than just asking the students the questions, it should also cause them to be more engaged. I also like the think-aloud activity to model the comprehension strategies for the students. Modeling is so important so students can get a visual example of what they should be doing when they are reading.

Kelsie Syverson, EngEd 463, Chapter 6: Meaningful Vocabulary

When we see of hear words, our brains make all kinds of connections with those words, depending on our past experiences.

Vocabulary is critical to reading comprehension.

Activities for Vocabulary

Find real life items that students may not know. Items may be sorted into categories such as kitchen items or art supplies. The students can play 20 Questions to figure out what the item is.

Students can act out skits about new vocabulary words. The words could include adjectives to make it easier for students to act out. The words would be listed for all students to see to make it easier for non-acting students to figure out what the word is.

Teachers can emphasize vocabulary words during read-aloud times by picking out 3 words to focus on. At first, the teacher should just read the story as usual. Then tell the students about the new vocabulary words and either read the story again or just read the paragraph so the students can get context as to what the words mean.

When students are reading an article they can find the 10 most important words. By finding these words, the students will be able to understand the main idea of the article. The students can find these words by tallying how many times they occur in the article. They should be able to define these words by the end of the article as well.

Classroom Application

I would use all of the activities listed above as well as having students write down words that they don’t know while they are reading. This could be a story that the whole class is reading, an individual book the student reads during a read-to-self time, or something that the teacher is reading out loud. If the text is something everyone is reading, the teacher can have a group discussion. If it is an individual book, the teacher can have a conference with the student to discuss these words.

Kelsie Syverson, EngEd 463, EdTPA Handbook

Planning Task 1: Planning for Instructions and Assessment

This is where the teacher is making their lesson plans and needs to think about what the students already know and what they will be learning next. The teacher thinks of different strategies and assessments to use to support the students.
What You Need to Do

  • Select a class
  • Provide context information
  • Identify a learning segment to plan, teach, and analyze
  • Identify a central focus for the learning segment
  • Determine the content standards and objectives
  • Identify and plan to support language demands
  • Write a lesson plan and submit it
  • Select and submit key instructional materials
  • Submit copies of all written assessment and/or directions for any oral or performance assessments
  • Provide citations for the source of all materials that you did not create

Planning Commentary

You will also need to write a planning commentary responding to the prompts. Prompts include (more details in handbook)

  1. Central Focus
  2. Knowledge of Students to Inform Teaching
  3. Supporting Students’ Literacy Learning
  4. Supporting Literacy Development Through Language
  5. Monitoring Student Learning

You will be assessed using rubrics. The rubrics can help guide you with your thinking, planning, and writing.
Resource: edTPA Assessment Handbook: Elementary Literacy: Version 07. (2018) Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity.

Kelsie Syverson, EngEd 463: Chapter 5: Teaching Phonics and Spelling Patterns

Strategies Good Readers Use

  • Recognize that this is an unfamiliar word, and look at all the letters in order
  • Search your mental word bank for similar letter patterns and the sounds associated with them
  • Produce a pronunciation that matches that of a real word that you know
  • Reread the sentence to cross-check your possible pronunciation with meaning, If meaning confirms pronunciation, continue reading. If not, they try again
  • Look for familiar morphemes, and chunk the word by putting letters together that usually go together in the words you know

Guess the Covered Word

  1. Before class begins, write four or five sentences on the board that start with your students’ names, follow a similar word pattern, and end with words that vary in their initial sounds and word length.
  2. Cover the last word in each sentence with a sticky note
  3. Begin the activity by reading the first sentence and asking students to guess the covered word. Write down guess on the board next to the sentence.
  4. Next, uncover all the letters up to the first vowel (make sure to tell the students that you did this). Erase guesses that do not begin with that group of letters. Have students give a few more guesses that would make sense. Write them on the board. Remind students that the word needs to begin with this letter/s and still make sense in the sentence.
  5. Finally, uncover the whole word and see if any guesses were correct. Repeat this process with the remaining sentences.

This can also be used during science or social studies so that students don’t just relate this activity with reading.

Using Words You Know

Help students learn to use the words they already know to decode and spell lots of other words.

  1. Show students three to five words they know, and have these words pronounced and spelled.
  2. Draw four columns, and head each column with one of these words.
  3. Tell students that words that rhyme usually have the same spelling pattern.
  4. Tell students that you are going to show them some new words and that they should write each one under the word with the same spelling pattern.
  5. Explain to your students that thinking of rhyming words can help them spell. This time, do not show them the words but just say the word.
  6. End this lesson by helping students verbalize that in English words that rhyme often have the same spelling pattern and that good readers and spellers do not sound out every letter but rather try to think of a rhyming word and read or spell the word using the pattern in the rhyming word.


Making Words

As students manipulate letters to make words, they learn how making small changes, such as changing just one letter or moving two letters around, results in a completely new word. You can guide students to make these discoveries by carefully sequencing the words they are to make and giving them explicit guidance about how much change in needed.

Making Words lesson have three steps:

  1. You make words. Begin with short, easy words and move to longer, more complex words. The last word is always the secret word – a word that is made using all of the letters. As the students make each word, a student who made it successfully goes up to a pocket chart and makes the word with big letters so all students can see it. Have students make 10-15 words, including the secret word.
  2. Sort the words into patterns. This could include length of the word, the beginning letter, but every lesson should include sorting them by sorting words.
  3. Transfer the words. Once the words are sorted by rhyming words, have the students use the rhyming words to spell some new words with these rhyming patterns.

Modeling How to Decode Big Words

To decode and spell big words. your students must:

  1. Have a mental store of big words that contain the spelling patterns common to big words
  2. Chunk big words into pronounceable segments by comparing the parts of new big words to the big words they already know
  3. Recognize and use common prefixes and suffixes

Modeling is the most direct way to demonstrate to your students what to do when they encounter a long, unfamiliar word. Modeling is simply thinking aloud about how you might go about figuring out an unfamiliar word.

The Nifty-Thrifty-Fifty

The Nifty-Thrifty-Fifty words should be introduced gradually, and students should practice chanting and writing them until their spelling and decoding become automatic.

  1. Display the words, arranged by first letter, someplace in the room
  2. Explain to students that in English, many big words are just smaller words with prefixes and suffixes added to the word
  3. Tell students that one way to practice words is to say the letters in them aloud in a rhythmic, chanting fashion
  4. Once you have notices the composition for each word, helped the students see other words that work in a similar way, and cheered for each word, have the students write each word
  5. When you have a few minutes, practice the words by chanting or writing
  6. Once students can automatically, quickly, and correctly spell the words and explain to you how they are composed, it is time to help them see how these words can help them decode and spell other word. They use words they know and combine roots, suffixes, and prefixes to figure out how to spell lots of other words
  7. Continue adding words gradually, going through the above procedures with all the words. Do not add words too quickly, and provide lots of practice with these words and the other words that can be decoded and spelled by combining parts of these wordsIMG_E1159IMG_E1160

Classroom Application

I think rhyming words are one of the most important parts about becoming better readers and spellers because these words follow a pattern so I would teach a lot of rhyming activities even if it is just the students naming rhyming words as I write them down to show them the spelling pattern. I like the idea of teaching prefixes and suffixes and for the younger students I want to work with we might have to choose simple prefixes like “un” or “re” and suffixes like “able” and “ed” that they might come across more in their reading. Students will be reminded to use words that they already know.


Cunningham, P. M. & Allington, R. L. (2011). Classrooms That Work: They Can All Read
and Write. (6th ed.). Boston: Pearson

Kelsie Syverson, EngEd 463, Chapter 4: Fluency


The ability to read most words in context quickly and accurately and with appropriate expression. It is critical to reading comprehension because of the attention factor. Our brains can attend to a limited number of things at a time. If most of out attention is focused on decoding the words, there is little attention left for the comprehension part of reading – putting the words together and thinking about what they mean.

Ways to Help Struggling Readers

Make sure all your students are spending some of their time reading easy text – text in which they are interested, and thus have background knowledge, and text in which they can recognize 98-99% of the words.

Read an “everyone book” aloud. An “everyone book” is a book that everyone can read and that would be easy for even your struggling readers.

Have magazines. With magazines, it is not essential to read every word or article but the students can read the ones that interest them. Those high-interest articles will be easier to read because they are usually on a topic on which your struggling reader has a lot of background knowledge and vocabulary.

Independent reading is a critical daily component of a balanced reading program and should be devoted to students choosing something to read themselves.

Provide struggling readers with a lot of easy reading opportunities and watch them become fluent readers.

Echo Reading

Echo reading is the perfect way to model expressive oral reading because in echo reading, your voice is the first voice and your students are trying to make their voice sound like yours. Echo reading is usually done one sentence at a time and is fun to do when the text has different voices.

Choral Reading

Choral reading can be used when reading plays and students will read different roles. Students take turns reading different characters and when the play is done, students get different roles. Struggling readers can be assigned easier roles first and can then hear examples of the other students reading the more detailed roles.


One of the major ways that we become fluent readers is to read something over several times. The first time, a lot of our attention is on identifying the words. The second time, we are able to read in phrases as our brains puts the phrases together into meaningful units. The third time, we read more rapidly, with good expression and in a seemingly effortless way.

Fluency Development Lessons

The teacher chooses a short passage that is apt to be appealing to the students and reads the passage aloud several times, modeling fluent reading.

The teacher and the class do a choral reading of the poem. The poem is read chorally several times.

The children are paired and take turns reading the passage to each other. Each person reads the passage three times.

When the class gathers together again, the children can volunteer to read the passage aloud to everyone.

The children choose two or three words from the passage to ass to their personal word banks.

Children put one copy of the text in their poetry folder and are given a second copy to take home. They are encouraged to read the passage to whoever will listen.

The following day, the previous day’s passage is read again and then the whole cycle begins with a new passage. Once the class learns the routines the whole FDL can be completed in 15-20 minutes. FDLs are easy to do and enjoyed by both teachers and students.

Word Walls

Word walls consist of tricky words and high-frequency words that will help the students to become more fluent readers. Words should be introduced gradually – no more than 5-6 a week. The words should be practiced before being put up on the wall. Students can practice these words by chanting them and writing them, fun games can also be played with these words.

Classroom Application

Of course, I will have a word wall in my classroom. I will also include reading to self time with easy to read books, read alouds with “everyone books,” and I also love the idea of the FDLs.


Cunningham, P. M. & Allington, R. L. (2011). Classrooms That Work: They Can All Read
and Write. (6th ed.). Boston: Pearson

Kelsie Syverson, EngEd 463, Chapter 3: Building the Literacy Foundation

Print Concept

Print is what you read and write. Print includes letters, punctuation, and spaces between words and paragraphs, that translate into familiar spoken language. Also, learning the concepts that we read across the page from left-to-right and that we start at the front of a book and read towards the back.

Phonemic Awareness

The ability to recognize that words are made up of a discrete set of sounds and to manipulate those sounds. A child’s level of phonemic awareness is highly related to their success in beginning to read. Language is made up of individual words, those words are made up of syllables, and those syllables are made up of phonemes. A 5-year-old may have a hard time telling you how many syllables a word in but will be able to clap out the beats in a word. Phonemic awareness is an oral skill. A child can hear rhyming words or that “baby” and “book” start with the same sound or that there are three sounds that make up the word “hat.”

Concrete Words

Concrete words are words that children usually know because they are important to them. These words may include their name, brands that they see often, or mom and dad. If a child can learn how to learn words, and the few words they can read gives them confidence that you can learn more words.

Letter Names and Sounds

The letter names and sounds children know come from the concrete words that they already know and can read and write. Many children learn some letter names and sounds through repeated readings of alphabet book and through making words with magnetic letters on the refrigerator.

Classroom Application

I feel like this chapter was a great resource and how eye-opening it is to introduce students to literacy early in their lives. I would love to teach Pre-K or kindergarten one day so learning how to introduce students to the importance of reading and writing will be very helpful. I liked that one video where the teacher had a box of items and the students had to come and find something that started with the letter they were working on.

Additional Resources

Listed are some additional resources about all the topics listed above as well as other helpful reading topics like fluency and comprehension. The most important thing to know is that the earlier you start reading to your child, the more successful they will be.

Click to access report.pdf

Click to access PRFbooklet.pdf

Click to access PRFbooklet.pdf