“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
– Dr. Suess, I Can Read with My Eyes Shut
Reading is the largest curriculum focus in first grade. Over the course of first grade, students’ growth in reading is astounding. To make the most of instructional time we use small reading groups for direct and guided instruction. This enables us to meet kids at their instructional levels and systematically target skills, and develop fluency and both oral and written comprehension. These groups are not stagnant and can, and do, change over the course of the year in relationship to students’ reading levels. In addition to reading groups we incorporate reading into all subject areas.
Assessment is critical in meeting students’ needs. So each year we begin with our initial assessments in reading. We do a reevaluation of the Read Well unit assessments to determine where students are in relation to curriculum. This data gives us jumping off points in our groups. We also assess students using DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills). This data helps us identify students who may need additional supports in reading such as 1-on-1 tutoring in our Sound Partners Program or our after-school tutoring program. It also helps us identify specific needs for all students.
Once we are into our regular routine with reading groups we do the Teachers College reading assessment that is put out by Columbia’s Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. This assessment provides us even more data to inform instruction. It assesses decoding, fluency, and comprehension. We also participate in the MAPs reading assessment. It, too, provides more information that helps shape instruction.
All these assessments are administered routinely in an ongoing basis. These assessments are critical in supporting reading development and evaluating the effectiveness of instruction. With all this information in hand we do what is most critical to develop readers. WE READ! READ! READ! We read chorally! Loud, proud, and with inflection! We read with partners! We read alone! And we, of course, are read to daily! The greatest gift you can give a child is sharing a good book.
“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” – Emilie Buchwald
“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” – Albert Einstein