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    A Different Dimension of Assessment

    By Justin Stygles
     | Oct 04, 2017

    Reading AssessmentFor ILA’s Leadership Educ. & Dev. for Educators in Reading Special Interest Group (ILA’s LEADER SIG) panel at the ILA 2017 Conference & Exhibits, I wanted to tackle, what I felt, is a lightly tread field of reading assessment—affective and strategic knowledge assessments. I sought to unite voices that further discussions about assessment with respect to student voice (affective assessments) and the individual's reading process (strategic knowledge).

    When I first asked members of ILA’s LEADER SIG to participate in the panel, I was quite overwhelmed at the opportunity to connect with leaders in reading assessment. Yet, I will always remember one e-mail, a declined invitation. The gist of the reply could be summarized by the following sentiment: “I think we already have too much assessment.”

    For roughly two weeks, I pondered this sentiment. I wondered if I had chosen the wrong topic amongst a heralded group of literacy experts. After all, I completely agreed with the gist of the email. As a classroom teacher, we have way too much assessment. Over the past few years, I've felt this feeling and echoed this sentiment, when I was required to administer three different “summative” tests over the course of two weeks. Consequently, the students lost two weeks of instruction and practice.

    However, when I think about the nature of assessments I had to administer, not one of them gave credence to the maturing reader's voice or reading (thinking) process. Each assessment focused on cognition and mastery that yielded a score that would be discussed by educational communities outside of the classroom. Many of us recognize the time and effort devoted to summative assessments, which tends to be followed by a lack of immediate relevance in our classrooms. But what about quickly administered, interim assessments, that provide information we can use in one-to-one conferring or for small-group instruction, immediately? 

    Perhaps this is, indeed, more assessment. However, I would also argue that using perception scales and strategic knowledge assessments carry more consequential validity. Therefore, I felt the need to discuss a different dimension of assessment—affective assessments—that didn't require copious amounts of time for administration, but yielded some of the most pertinent information a teacher could use, immediately, that best represented the student as and individual and a maturing reader.

    Switching voices, I would like to offer you this rationale:

    The classroom has become a pressure cooker for data. Repeated and high-stakes assessments have become centerpieces that satiate an external desire for data. Consequential validity is disregarded, which includes the affect of the reader. Assessment can be informative, but limiting as well when the reader's attitude or ability to self-evaluate is marginalized.

    Current practices tend to overlook the reader's self-concept. What about the reader's self perceptions and attitude towards reading? As districts or states adopt policies that emphasize data from a single, high-stakes, assessment, do we have enough information to create an accurate portrayal of our readers?  We assess cognitive skills or access to text and (perceived) mastery, ignoring the student's development of a reading process. Seductively, we are convinced the assessments and data will help us do “what's best for students,” replacing our faith in a child's reading process with a trust in numbers.

    But rarely do we attend to their ability or desire to interact with text, which is highly essential to the reader’s engagement with text and capacity for metacognition. Prevailing practices continue to emphasis the data-addiction associated with statistical analysis which is offered through high-stakes testing and digital-based “interim” assessments, rather than looking an intrinsic reading factors. In a 2016 The Reading Teacher article, “Reading Assessment, Looking Ahead” professor Peter Afflerbach states, “If we do not regularly assess the development of students' motivation and self-efficacy for reading, we cannot make measurement-based inferences about the development of [reading development and achievement].”

    If we look at our assessment practices and consciously include the students by using affective, motivational, and strategic knowledge assessments, we can paint a luminous portrait of readers and provide the instruction that is best for students.

    Justin StyglesJustin Stygles is a fifth-grade teacher in Wiscasset, Maine.  He's taught for fifteen years in various settings.  You can follow him on Twitter at @justinstygles.

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    Seven Resources You Need to Start Global Read Aloud 2017

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Oct 03, 2017

    Global Read AloudSeven years ago, Wisconsin-based seventh-grade teacher Pernille Ripp had an idea for a global collaboration project that would connect educators and students through read-aloud. An immigrant herself, Ripp believed in the power of books to break down biases and broaden understandings.

     “When I think about global collaboration—it’s because we need to make the world smaller. We need to stop being so afraid of others,” Ripp said. “We need to teach our kids about the outside world or allow them to start experiencing it.”

    Since then, Global Read Aloud (GRA) has gained serious traction—reaching more than 2,000,000 students across 60 countries. For the next six weeks (ending in mid-November) educators from around the world will pick a book to read aloud to students while making as many global connections as possible through social media, video chat, blogging, and other mediums.

    It’s not too late to join—just visit globalreadaloud.com to learn more and sign up, and then browse the list of resources below to get started:

    • This video, which explains how Ripp was inspired to start GRA, how the movement has grown, and how your classroom can participate
    • This archived Google Hangout conversation on the benefits of reading aloud, featuring Ripp, Steven L. Layne, author and professor of literacy education at Judson University in Illinois, and Jennifer Estrada, director of the HerStory Campaign for LitWorld
    • The Global Read Aloud Official Board on Pinterest, where Ripp shares GRA ideas
    • This open Google Sheet, where educators can contribute their own resources (or share ideas they have found online) for participating in GRA
    • The official Twitter hashtag for this year, #GRA17, as well as the following, book-specific individual hashtags:

    Alina O'Donnell is the editor of Literacy Daily.

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    Yarr! How to Celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Sep 19, 2017

    Kid Dressed as PirateAhoy, ye mateys! September 19th is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, but ye can engage yer learners all year long with pirate activities. Students can learn science, math, geography, history, culture, citizenship, and more by studying pirates. Below is a list of fun classroom activities to git ye sailing.

    Talk like a pirate

    Learn navigational skills

    Explore the Golden Age

    For more ideas, check out Teaching Ideas’ list of pirate-themed classroom resources.

    Alina O'Donnell is the editor of Literacy Daily.

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    Tips for Increasing Rapid Naming Ability in Struggling Readers

    By Jenny Nordman
     | Sep 13, 2017

    Rapid Naming AbilityWhile rapid naming ability may not be the first thing one thinks of when listing the characteristics of an effective reader, the impact of this cognitive skill should not be underestimated. In fact, children with reading issues often demonstrate significant difficulty when asked to quickly name familiar objects or symbols. Conversely, more advanced readers tend to perform strongly on rapid naming tasks.

    Rapid naming involves processing information and responding swiftly. Within the context of reading, it is needed for word retrieval, sound–symbol correspondence, automaticity, and oral reading fluency. For a student to be able to respond and integrate information, a variety of neural systems must work together quickly and seamlessly. However, when instructing struggling readers or those with documented reading disabilities, achieving rapid naming may require additional practice.

    Here are some practical tips that can be used to increase rapid naming ability when working with readers who have difficulty with this important cognitive skill:

    • Play “Search and Say” with the classroom word wall and a flashlight. The teacher (or a selected student) points to words on the word wall using a flashlight, and the students must quickly respond. This activity builds rapid sight word recall.
    • Have the student complete timed, repeated readings of a passage in order to build automaticity. It is recommended that the passage be no more than 100 words. The student can make a game of it by trying to beat their time, and this activity can be used as a literacy center with premade, leveled passages and stopwatches.
    • Play games that require quick word retrieval, such as Pictionary, Scattergories, or charades. Connect these activities to a text selection by incorporating vocabulary words or scenes from a story.
    • Use flash cards for letters, sight words, sounds, phonograms, etc. Flash card activities require fast processing, but they should not be competitive if being used for remediation.
    • Sing short songs or recite poems and quicken the pace as you repeat. This activity gradually increases the demand on processing speed, and is especially enjoyable for young children. Please note that those with speech issues may find this activity difficult.

    With these practical activities, you can help to build rapid naming ability in your students. Be sure to also send a few of these suggestions home to parents for even more practice. 

    Jenny NordmanDr. Jenny Nordman is an assistant professor of reading and literacy at Regis University in Denver, where she coordinates of the Master of Education in Reading program. Her areas of expertise include reading assessment and intervention, cognitive skills associated with reading success, neurocognition, and evidence-based best practices.

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    Back to School After a Natural Disaster: Teaching Hurricane Harvey

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Sep 05, 2017

    Harvey Library DamageThis week, many Houston-area teachers will finally return to school after delays caused by Hurricane Harvey, a disaster that—beyond broken windows, power outages, and destroyed classroom supplies—could impact students’ emotional and academic well-being for years to come.

    More than just places to learn, studies show that schools and teachers help children cope with disasters by providing stability, support, and routine as well as a space to process their trauma.

    To prepare for the long, arduous road to normalcy ahead, we’ve compiled a list of learning tools and resources to help educators respond to the storm and its aftermath with students.

    Lessons and activities

    Helping Children After Natural Disasters: Colorín Colorado's compilation of multilingual tips and resources prepare school personnel to offer support following a natural disaster. Topics include "helping students cope," "providing staff support," "working with parents," "building community," and more.  

    NASA’s Hurricane Educational Links: NASA-developed educational tools including posters, visualizations and graphics, lesson plans, and classroom activities on hurricanes. 

    Education World’s Hurricane Watch: Lessons and classroom activities to help students understand hurricanes and their consequences. 

    Hurricane Season, Grades 6-8: The National Education Association’s recommended resources including lesson plans, classroom activities, printables, animations, and videos.

    Lesson Plans for Teachers: Compiled by the Teachers Pay Teachers group, this site includes free and inexpensive lesson plans, videos, writing prompts, and more.

    Helping After Harvey: Ideas for hosting school-wide volunteer initiatives such as fundraisers, social media campaigns, blood drives, and more. This site also includes a list of inclusive disaster strategies.

    Media literacy tools

    How Media Literacy Helps You Talk About Hurricane Harvey With Your Students”: PBS lesson to help educators discuss the effects of extreme weather events and helpful media literacy tools when it comes to media coverage of the hurricane.

    Harvey in Pictures: A collection of powerful photographs depicting the hurricane and its aftermath.

    "Teaching Hurricane Harvey: Ideas and Resources:” The New York Times guide explains how teachers can round up storm-related news and images from social media for students to analyze and provides discussion questions.

    Books

    Hurricane Harvey Book Club: Started by a second-grade teacher, this Facebook group (which now has more than 50,000 members) is a “literary oasis” where people can share videos of themselves reading aloud with those who have no books available.

    8 Books to Help Children Understand Natural Disasters and Cope With Anxiety”: Published by Forbes, this list offers books recommendations for helping children understand the disaster and cope with the feelings they may have now and later on.

    Alina O’Donnell is the editor of Literacy Daily. 

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