Saturday, May 21, 2016

strategies not levels

I have been doing some intervention work with a few first graders since December. Now it's May and time for benchmark assessments to see how much they grew. My little kiddos unfortunately did not make it to grade level, but there's so so much to celebrate!

So here she was reading a level D Nonfiction book. She confuses her b's and d's and usually I would prompt her with this little organizer, but because it was a benchmark, she had to ask for this tool rather than me handing it to her:

But do you see how I was scripting what she was saying? Then she says to herself, "Does that make sense?" and she went on talking aloud to herself saying, "No, it doesn't."

As a Reading Specialist, this is what I want her to do, to problem solve on her own, without my help, to use strategies I prompt her with in guided reading on her own. Even though this means she frustrated on level E, which is a beginning-of-first-grade level, I feel so proud in what she demonstrated to me. Not only did she verbalize the semantic cueing system, she also:
  • read punctuation, dialog, and bold words with proper inflection
  • cross-checked to pictures and words
  • looked back at the title or another page she had already read to help her solve a new word
  • substituted words that made sense
  • retold the story by looking back across the text
On the level E book, she had a lot of errors, and two repeated with the following:

After it was all said and done, I taught on these miscues. I had her say with and we paid attention to where her tongue was on the /th/ - buzzing by her teeth. Then we said the nonsense word wif - and we noticed that her tongue was in the back of her mouth to say /f/.

That's the purposeful kind of conversations that come from running records. Oh, super cute, she miscued: loof for loose. At one point I was looking to see if she had lost all her front teeth!

I've just been reflecting on all this because I know we have these benchmarks to attain, but for me, it's never the level. This little kiddo did so many things that made my heart swell with pride - and those strategies she has now are hers - her strategies to take her up the levels to more complex text, especially as I think about how kids have to get over that hump from easy picture books to the beginning chapter books around levels J-K-L.

Also, we have to remember that all children develop in their own time. While this particular kiddo may only be at level E right now, she may come back and then have instruction click in second grade and then all of a sudden she's made four levels of growth in four months.

The strategies are what is important. Not the reaching for higher and higher levels.

Your thoughts?

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