It’s that time of year

…yes you know it – beginning of the year assessment time. It happens every year, and somehow each September, I seem to find that there are more assessments than the year before. This year, like last, our big focus is on mClass, which is a set of reading assessments mandated in public schools throughout the state of North Carolina. While many of the assessments offer valuable information about what my students know and how they need to grow, it can be distressing to think of all of the instruction time being lost during the hours, days, even weeks it takes to assess.

To begin to combat that loss and to make sure that our students are still beginning to learn and practice the skills that they will need to become successful readers, a teammate and I decided to put together a plan. This plan would not only outline our instructional lessons each day, but would also give us a guide to rotations that the kids could participate in while we call one at a time to assess. We are in the midst of implementing it now, but so far, we have had many fewer moments of pure insanity.

We decided to focus this week on some beginning reading and phonics skills, targeted both toward reminding students of skills they may have lost over the summer and giving our lowest readers some support where they are currently. Here was our plan for our first week of assessments:

Monday – Introduce vowels and consonants

Station: consonant vowel coloring sheet of class mascot (i.e. lemur, chameleon, whale, owl, cardinal) – color consonants one color and vowels a different color

Tuesday – introduce short vowels

Station: Old McDonald’s Vowel Farm Emergent Reader – read, color, and if they finish, they can write other words that have that short vowel sound http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Old-MacDonald-Short-Vowel-Emergent-Reader-339521

Wednesday – blending consonants and short vowels

Station: Short Vowel Sorting Activity http://blog.maketaketeach.com/springtime-vowel-sorting-activity/

Thursday – introducing long vowels

Station: writing sentences with short and long a words http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Short-and-Long-Vowels-fill-in-writing-activities-free-sample-705275

Friday – super E

Station: Long and short vowel word sort

Picture 1

Our next plan of action was to make the list of rotations so that students would not just be stuck at their seats with busy work, but actively engaging in literacy activities and practices that would help them in the beginning of this journey of becoming readers. Here is what my rotation schedule looked like:

Picture 2

The kids were each placed into a colored group and would rotation to each of the 5 rotations, which last about 10-12 minutes each. I placed one of my highest and lowest students in each group along with a bunch right in the middle. The kids rotated with their BOBs (boxes of books) so that they could read if they finished anything early. The rotations centered on additional phonics practice, word wall word practice, reading, Raz Kids (great source of leveled books online), and ipod apps supporting basic literacy skills.

The kids have really enjoyed these lessons and rotations and I am excited to see how they are already starting to develop some independence!

Best wishes to all of you lost in assessment worlds like me!

~Mrs. L

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