Collecting reading data is an important part of the first few weeks in your classroom. You need to collect data to get to know your students as readers. Some of this data will be about reading behavior, while other data points will measure reading ability. Tools like running records, diagnostic assessments, and fluency checks will give you measurable data points about a students’ achievement. Tools like interest inventories and guided reading checklists reveal information about reading behaviors. You can grab a set of free guided reading forms HERE to get you started!
After collecting all of the data that you need at the beginning of the year, you will need to use it in your teaching. How do you decide what texts students will need? What does the data tell you about which small group lessons you must teach?
Students who struggle with decoding words, because they lack fluency with grade-level phonics patterns, will need decodable texts. You will see evidence of this on running records, if a student has many accuracy issues. If students rely on you to cue them on which sounds to make, instead of using decoding strategies, they will need to work more on phonics patterns within decodable texts! I have decodable phonics passages in my TPT store to work on common patterns in early elementary school!
If a student has the skills in place to decode unknown words, students may be ready for leveled texts. A leveled text incorporates several patterns, rather than focusing on one at a time. It also will include vocabulary that must be previewed, and comprehension questions.
You will know if a student is ready for leveled texts if they use decoding strategies to sound out unknown words more often than not. This is a sign that students are ready to focus on comprehending the text, because they can figure out what the words say. Their brains won’t be overwhelmed with unfamiliar sounds, as well as trying to make meaning from the text. I have a wide range of leveled guided reading passages for teachers to use with students of all ages! Check those out here.
As you place students in small groups, and you assign the right texts, continue collecting that data! Do frequent running records, anecdotal notes, fluency checks, and more. This data will help you decide if a student is ready for something more challenging, or if they are struggling a bit. Continually revisiting your students’ data is a great way to make sure you are meeting their needs!