Community building activities are popular (and important) at the beginning of the year. As teachers, we invest a lot of time getting to know our students and helping them get to know each other. But on top of getting to know each of your students’ personalities and interests, it is also important to get to know them as readers.
Knowing your students as readers will help you teach, assess, and grow your readers throughout the year. But how do we get to know our students as readers? I have three ideas for you today!
A reading interest inventory surveys your students on the books they enjoy and the ones they do not. It is fairly common to do an interest inventory at the beginning of the school year. I recommend, however, repeating the interest inventory at different intervals throughout the year. You may give one at the beginning of each semester, once a quarter, or whenever you feel the need to check back in with your students’ reading tastes.
The benefit of an interest inventory is that it helps you match your students with books that interest them. When your students are interested in the books they are reading, they are more likely to stick with them! This builds stamina, deepens comprehension skills, and increases vocabulary. On top of that, you can use what you know about your students as readers to plan the text that you use in small groups. If they are engaged in the texts you are teaching with, you will be able to grow their skills more deeply.
Guided Reading Checklist
Use a guided reading checklist when meeting with your students the first time to assess their reading behaviors. Simply observe a student reading a short passage, and check off the behaviors they exhibit. This is a quick and easy way to take anecdotal notes!
Some behaviors you want to keep an eye out for are:
- Noticing the title
- Observing the pictures and other text features
- Finishing the text completely
- Being able to briefly summarize what they read
- Reading sentences fluently
- Having decoding skills in place to read words they do not know already
Using a reading checklist helps you set goals with your students! Choose one area that you noticed they need to improve on, and make it a goal to focus on that part of reading next time.
A running record is a third way to get to know your students as readers. A running record assesses a reader’s accuracy. As a child is reading, you are making notes of the words they read correctly, what they are re-reading, stopping to decode, asking for help with, misreading, and more. Additionally, you are timing them as they read. This gives you a fluency data point right at the beginning of the year.
Running records are important to continually take, use in planning, and compare over time. They give so much information about the skills, phonics patterns, and vocabulary you need to work into your lessons!