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Assessment & evaluation

Three things of interest to teachers

What 10 picture books could you not live without? That's the question behind the 10 for 10 Must Have's project. It's well worth checking out! Many bloggers posted their lists with short annotations and explanations. I know I added several titles to our library queue, and I'll bet you will too! One picture book I couldn't live without: I Like Me.

Kindergarten Camp

ants on a log

Moms and Dads walked in, clutching the hand of a 5 or 6 year old who anxiously looked around the lobby. Nervous chatter, excited whispers, reassuring pats on the back, and a few tears. "Let's find your nametag!" Today was the first day of kindergarten camp at our school, a week designed to let our incoming kindergartners "kick the tires" on their new school.

More computer time = lower test scores?

When kids get on the computer, do they spend more time surfing the 'net and less time doing homework and studying? It appears that way, according to this article in Sunday's New York Times.

Reading scores, and a closer look at urban scores

Most of us are familiar with the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), whose scores form the Nation's Report Card. The most recent Report Card came out in March 2010, and scores suggested students reading performance from 2007 to 2009 remained essentially flat. As before, almost a third of the nation's fourth graders performed Below Basic, and for subgroups, the failure rate is even higher: 52% of black students, 51% of Hispanic students, and 49% of students in poverty all scored Below Basic.

Monitoring Student Progress

When schools undertake a Response to Intervention model, one important piece involves progress monitoring (PM). Conducted at least monthly, these assessments can inform instruction, estimate rates of improvement, and identify students who are not making adequate progress.

Each of those are important to ensuring that kids are getting what they need out of their reading instruction. There are several excellent resources that provide guidance regarding progress monitoring. I'll highlight two here.

Tests and more tests

The end of the school year usually means one thing for kids: TESTS! In Virginia, our 3rd and 5th graders are gearing up to take the Virginia Standards of Learning tests. Other grade levels are preparing for end of unit tests, spelling tests, math chapter tests, tests to inform placements for next year, and tests just because teachers like to grade (just kidding).

Using but confusing, with laundry

I've written before about using a child's writing as a way to understand what she needs from her instruction. This weekend provided me with more insight into Anna's (our 6 year old) development by showing me what she's "using but confusing," a term used by Donald Bear and colleagues in their research in word study.

The girls' Sunday chore was to organize their dresser. Always industrious, Anna took it a step further and labeled each drawer. You can see her work in this photo:

Ranting about RAN

Lots of kids with reading difficulties have trouble on measures of rapid automatized naming (RAN). RAN tasks measure the time taken for a child to name alphabet letters, digits, colors or common objects presented in a random order. Poorer readers consistently perform more slowly on automatized naming tasks.

Report card comment redux

Thanks for your feedback on the report card comment two weeks ago. Your comments highlighted the need for balance between the need to provide parent-friendly information with the need to provide accurate, research-based information. In a perfect world, a good comment would do both.

Summer tutoring: How's it going? Four considerations.

Is your son or daughter working with a tutor this summer? Now that July has begun, it's a great time to evaluate your tutoring situation. It's not too late to make a few simple changes that can make a real difference in the remaining tutoring sessions.

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"Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them." — Neil Gaiman