Levels of Understanding Poster

We use this Levels of Understanding Target Poster in our secondary literacy (Strategic Reading) classes to help students pre-assess their level of understanding of a literacy strategy (pre-instruction), and reevaluate their understanding upon completion of instruction.  The question prompts for each level are intended to ignite students’ ability to verbalize what they know and what they still need to know or be able to do.

The complexity of the thinking for this process falls under the metacognitive level of the Marzano taxonomy under Monitoring Accuracy:  “The student can determine how accurate their understanding of knowledge is and defend their judgment.”  

Here is a sample plan for how to use this resource:

  1. Prior to engaging in new learning, students reflect on the learning target (or standard/objective) for the day’s instruction and rate their current understanding.  We have students write the learning target (or standard/objective) on their exit slip form (not included here).
  2. At the close of an instruction segment, students reconsider and reflect on how their level of understanding has developed. They again choose a rating from the target.
  3. In writing, students explain and justify their rating choice using reflection prompts prepared for each level.

My collaborator, a talented former graphic designer turned educator, and I are now beginning the process of adding our literacy intervention and general instructional resources on Teachers Pay Teachers.  This free resource is our first offering.  If you are interested in particular types of resources for literacy intervention, please let us know.  It is probably in our vault somewhere.

Foster Student Self-Evaluation

 

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A few of my 2015-2016 Strategic Readers

 

I haven’t posted in a while, because like many of you, I’ve been plodding through the second busiest time of the school year.  After the first weeks of school, the next busiest time for me is finals week.  

Even high school reading intervention classes engage in a version of finals. The final in my class has multiple purposes, the least of which is a larger-than-normal notation in the grade book. My focus is on helping my students understand their own growth.  The freshman year is the last opportunity for this type of intervention in this district. The intervention process I proposed for secondary was implemented district-wide in grades 6-9. Since I teach students in the last year of the intervention, I want students to move forward with a grasp of what they have gained through this experience, where they still need to improve, and what they can do to continue to grow.

Throughout each semester, every piece of data produced by the students is kept in their individual files.  This includes strategy lessons, annotated texts, reading reflections, morphology practice and weekly quizzes, reciprocal teaching documentation, exit slips, etc.  All of it is used to help the students develop and apply skills to become better readers, writers, and thinkers and help me make instructional choices for the students.  Intervention instructional decisions are not always clear-cut, but they are made with attention to formative data. Each piece of data contributes to a picture and feeds daily instructional choices.

At the end of a semester, or for some students the end of the school year,  they are asked to analyze the details of this picture to help them develop their own image of their growth.  The end product of the analysis is an essay. The requirements of this essay are consistent with our intervention focus to improve each student’s literacy skills, motivation, and self-perception as reader.  Often the process to construct this final essay is the moment the students finally realize their gains, the impact of their effort, and the changes in how they see themselves and the purpose of the class. 

Below are the  elements students use to prep the essay.   I also linked a couple of essays.  The first sample is from a student (Monica) who doubled typical yearly growth in a semester to earn a grade level score (220) on the MAP. Our goal as a district intervention is to at least double the typical yearly growth in an effort to close the gap. Additionally, Monica’s QRI (Quantitative Reading Inventory) instructional reading level moved to an upper middle school level from the 4th grade level at which she started the quarter.   Monica is also an ESL student who intentionally seeks to expand her use of English vocabulary.  I think her essay shows some of her growth in this area as well. 

In the second sample, the student (Destiny) did double typical growth in the first semester, but dropped in her second semester, and did not meet her overall personal goal or attain a grade level MAP score.  She had a larger gap to bridge and computerized standardized tests produced obvious physical anxiety for her.  So even though the MAP did not show her obvious growth, her QRI scores did.  Destiny also grew from an instructional reading level of 4th grade to an instructional level of upper middle school.  I also found her thoughtfulness about her process to be one of the greatest indicators of development. 

How do you assess student literacy development?  What formative data do you collect to make decisions or assess short-term growth?  What summative or standardized assessments does your district require to determine that students are making adequate progress?

Data-Driven Literacy Intervention: the Assessment Process

Using Data to make differentiated data decisions
In my district, our intervention program (more a of an anti-program) for secondary is available for grades 6-9.  That includes all the middle school grades and the first year of high school.  There are reasons for not extending past 9th grade, but that is a whole other post.  Our goals are NOT to keep students eternally in intervention classes, but to identify their needs and reinforce strategies to support complex reading across content areas, so they can continue growth beyond the intervention classroom.  Literacy teachers also work (co-teaching, coaching) with content teachers to support them in using effective strategies for their content. Again, this co-teaching is a topic for a whole other post.  My focus today is on the importance of collecting authentic data.  We can’t begin true intervention without effective data.  We use limited district testing data for entrance and exit requirements, but I deepen that assessment process throughout my limited time with students so that their experience will be a life changing one.  I don’t want students to enter my class with a one-size-fits-all curriculum that doesn’t meet every student’s needs in some significant way.  I want them to enter my class feeling right from the start that I really SEE them.  I want them to exit knowing their ability has been enhanced.  With all that in mind, I focus on three levels of assessment, with an intention that students don’t feel ASSESSED all that time.

A typical student data file.

A typical student data file.

We are three years into the implementation of this intervention process proposed for secondary students.  Through the practice in the classrooms of 24 targeted literacy instructors, including my own lab classroom, we adapt and deepen elements as we grow and learn.  The pre-and post-assessment requirements we ask our literacy instructors to use has stayed fairly stable.  I recognize that different teachers have managed the process in different ways, but the purpose, to provide data-driven, timely, differentiated instruction that meets student needs, has remained the same.

Here is the process as it is still implemented in my classrooms:

PRE-ASSESSMENT

I initially assess for three things: student literacy skill, student motivation as it relates to reading specifically and literacy generally, and student self-perception of reading skills.  I assess these elements because these are the areas of change I seek.  I don’t like to overwhelm students with measurement activities, so these are spread out between other introductory activities throughout the first two weeks of class. I chose these specific measurement tools so I can understand each student better.  Most of these resources are recommended by the Reading Specialist Licensure program at Emporia State University.

Pre-assessment we are currently using:

  • MAP (Measure of Academic Progress) –  This is our district’s apples-to-apples growth measuring test. It is how my district generally measures growth starting at 3rd grade.  This is the score on which entrance and exit is determined at this time.
  • QRI (Qualitative Reading Inventory)  – This is my own apple-to-apples growth measurement choice.  The MAP is for the district data needs, but I gain more clinical knowledge on this assessment.  I am currently using the QRI-5, but have excitedly received the QRI-6.   The QRI-5 has always been very effective for me in this setting I’ve developed.
  • Metacognitive Reading Awareness Survey OR Metacognitive Awareness of Reading Strategies Inventory – These options are intended to identify what strategies students can already apply.  It also identifies misconceptions about what “works,” which turns out to be the more valuable information.
  • Rhody Secondary Reading Attitude Assessment (Variations on this resource can found in the 5th Ed. of  Improving Reading: Interventions, Strategies, and Resources by Jerry L Johns and Susan Davis Lenski) – With a likert scale  format, this focuses on how a student feels about reading specifically.
  • Reader Self-Perception Scale  (Variations on this resources can also be found in the Johns & Lenski text.) – Again with a likert scale format, students relay their beliefs about themselves as readers.
  • Writing Samples – I ask students to produce one narrative about their thinking on their collected and sorted pre-assessment data and one response about a short piece of text at their instructional level.

At the high school level, I have my students score the surveys for their own knowledge.   I also have them write about what they think the scores on the reading attitude and self-perception scale mean about them as readers, writers and thinkers.  Prompts for writing should be adapted to the age and skill level of the students. Examples may include the following?  What do your response scores tell you about how you feel about reading? What do you think about yourself as a reader based on the scores?   What surprises you?  

There are likely other surveys, inventories, etc.  that will give similar information.  I encourage teachers to find what informs them and their students best.  I encourage teachers to remember that without motivation and a stronger self-perception, the skill development doesn’t tend to stick.  This is especially true for students who have spun through several cycles of remediation/intervention.  It’s all circular.  If you can motivate a student to do the work of skill development and success if experienced,  he gains a stronger self-perception.  This increases motivation and a creates a deepening sense of self-efficacy.  A stronger motivation to continue to grow is a consequence of believing that work is worth the effort.  Perpetuating this process is a big deal for students who have spent too much time feeling like failures.

CONTINUOUS ASSESSMENT
Every lesson and practice produces data to inform the next instructional choice. Solid differentiated intervention requires constant checks for understanding.  Examples of this daily process can include annotation on text, graphic organizers around thinking/strategies, student strategy journals, workshop model conferences, independent reading conferences, or written reflections (exit slips) about perceived proficiency with a skill, to name a few.  I also regularly track growth on the QRI with an independent version differentiated based on the student’s total comprehension level on the previous QRI assessment.

ILA Blog recently posted this commentary on formative assessment.  Although it is mostly elementary focused, many of the authors’ points are universally applicable.
LINK:  Better Than CBM: Assessments That Inform Instruction

POST ASSESSMENT
In post-assessment, we repeat everything except QRI.  As I already mentioned, I use a independent version of the QRI through continuous assessment to track QRI growth.  This data carries a lot of weight with me, and even with students, because it shows actual reading skill growth.  I would prefer to sit with students and do a post- QRI process face-to-face, but the time needed is enormous.  I do offer a post face-to-face version to provide growth data for students on IEPs.                   

I make my students aware of their growth and challenges and encourage them to develop goals specific to what they most want to improve.  After each independent QRI, I conference with students (usually during Reading Workshop time) to address recurring concerns.  Students typically WANT to improve, and appreciate knowing what they can do to improve.  At the high school level, part of my goal is to help my students fully understand their strengths and struggles as a reader.   I’ve always attempted to write up a summary of the students data with commentary on the interpretation of that data.  That is a consuming task.  I work streamline it for other teachers to use. This semester, I used a document from Richard Villa called “Cooperative Teaching Student and Class Summary.”  This provides students with my reflection on their growth.  It also allows feedback from content teachers as we work together to improve authentic literacy growth.

One of the last actions my students take before they exit the class is to write an essay about their growth and where they still need to grow.  I do provide a graphic organizer to help students with structure.  The students use the information in their personal data files to develop the essay.   I include easy-to-read comparisons of all pre- and post- assessments, all scores on the QRIs as they grew (which they all do), evidence from all of their strategy work, annotated texts from reciprocal teaching groups,  morphology work, summaries and writing about strategy application, and my own conference notes.   The essay they write is one typed page about what the evidence says about their growth, where they think they still need to grow, and how they believe they will use their new skills in the future.

All of this data collection and application sounds daunting, and it can be, but I try to keep it organized and streamlined.  Management requires staying on top of daily data and making real-time decisions about that data.  Don’t let it build up.  

This is a lot of information.  What parts of this can you implement fairly easily? What other types of assessment do you use to get to know your students and their needs?