Goal Setting for Reading Success Part 2: Regular Assessment & Student Motivational Strategies

Jaclyn DeForge, our Resident Literacy Expert began her career teaching first and second grade in the South Bronx, and went on to become a literacy coach and earn her Masters of Science in Teaching. In this series for teachers, educators, and literacy coaches, Jaclyn discusses different strategies for ensuring students hit end-of-year benchmarks in reading.

Last week, I talked a bit about the importance of setting specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-specific goals for your students in reading, and provided some resources to help you determine where to set them.  Today, I want to talk a bit about two  things that are imperative to student success in reaching their reading goals: 1) student motivation and 2) regular assessment.

1)    Using Goal Charts to build student motivation:  Students are super motivated when they can clearly visualize their goal, mark their progress and celebrate each milestone, so creating a goal chart can be a great tool!  Depending on your classroom culture and range of student reading levels, you may choose either to display this information as a large chart on a bulletin board and celebrate individual and class-wide achievements, or to keep separate charts in each student’s reading folder and celebrate progress individually.

After the beginning of year baseline running record assessment, you should know each student’s independent reading level.  Let them put a sticker on the chart to represent where they’re starting.  Once you’ve determined what you’d like their growth to be (usually a year of growth or higher), count that many levels they need to move to hit their goal.  Highlight that box on the chart.  Every time the student moves up another independent reading level, let them put a sticker on the chart so they can concretely see how much closer they’re moving to their goal, and celebrate this achievement!  I’ve included two samples of what a reading Goal Chart can look like both privately and publicly in the lower grades and both privately and publicly in the upper grades.

2)    Take regular Running Record Assessments:  In my classroom, my students loved it when running record time came around, because it meant one-on-one time with me.  Because I was taking notes as to each individual contributions and progress during Guided Reading, I had a pretty good sense of which students were ready to move up a level, and which students needed more time, and I prioritized reading with those students first.  As a rule, the lower the reading level, the more frequently you need to formally assess, and the higher the reading level, the less often you need to formally assess. Here’s a guideline as to how often to schedule assessments:

  • Levels AA-G/H: every couple weeks to every month
  • Levels I-K: every 1 to 1 ½ months
  • Levels L-O:  every 1 ½ to 2 months
  • Levels P and beyond:  every 2 to 2 ½ months (or more)

Once you’ve collected your baseline reading level data, make an assessment calendar and hold yourself to it!  This will ensure that your Guided Reading groups remain truly instructional!  Personally, starting at level J, I like to assess each student on both a fiction and a nonfiction book.   Students read fiction and nonfiction differently, and I find by assessing both, I can gather a more completely picture of what skill and strategies my students have a good handle on, and conversely, where I need to provide more support.

Need a running record assessment for your students?  Teacher’s College has written running records for two titles on each level from A-K.

Coming next Monday:  Help students walk away from a running record assessment feeling empowered!

How do you motivate your students in reading?  Drop me an email at curriculum@leeandlow.com or share yours in the comments! 

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