Supporting Struggling Readers in Grades 3-5, Part 1

One of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had professionally was to work as a Literacy Coach in the upper elementary grades.  The main reason for this is that I was able to work side by side with teachers using an "I do.., We do..., You do..." approach.  First, a bit of background as to why this is important for professional educators:
Do you teach struggling readers in grades 3-5? Click through to this blog post series walking you through the steps of assessment, planning, teaching, and reflecting as you support those struggling readers! Some freebies and cheat sheets for teachers are included!
While literacy interventions are sometimes available for teachers in grades 3-5, they are often underfunded or eliminated due to budgets.  This leaves the classroom teacher in a difficult position.  Mainly, upper elementary teachers are given a "band-aid" approach (do these lessons with your struggling readers from the reading basal, send them to a specialist for 20 minutes a day, or haphazardly pull from different resources, all while progress monitoring them), but without giving the teachers the knowledge and tools to effectively help their struggling readers.  The assumption is made that they really should have learned to read before they reached 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades.  In middle school, this becomes an even bigger assumption, as students are expected to read in all content areas, and the social studies teacher can't understand why they are struggling in their class.

Let's all just take a moment and acknowledge why this is a problem for these kids: if they aren't proficient readers, they will become further and further behind as they progress through school. This sets them up for a huge struggle throughout their school careers.  Just sayin' that it's important, and all teachers need to be empowered to do what is best for their students.  That's my soapbox, so now y'all know how I feel.
Do you teach struggling readers in grades 3-5? Click through to this blog post series walking you through the steps of assessment, planning, teaching, and reflecting as you support those struggling readers! Some freebies and cheat sheets for teachers are included!

This post is the first in a series to empower classroom teachers, especially in the upper elementary grades.  In this series, we will take several baby steps together to empower you, the classroom teacher, to identify the needs of your struggling reader and implement an effective course of action to help these students without reinventing the wheel at every turn.  No worries - I'm with you every step of the way.  :)

Today we will tackle your assessment area.  I know, I know, I know.  You have so many binders and folders, and they clutter up your work area.  Trust me - this will save you time in the long run!  Here's what you will need:
  • A binder with dividers and page protectors or another organizing system with dividers, hanging files, etc. This is to organize the assessments so you can assess when needed rather than having to search for 10 minutes so you can assess for 5 minutes.  Whatever you choose, make it work for you! 
  • Data.  We have mountains of data nowadays, don't we?  It doesn't need to be kept in your assessment area, but it should be easily accessible so you can track progress later.
  • A list of the students who are struggling readers.  This might be reflected in benchmark assessments, standardized tests, report cards from prior years, or your own professional judgement.  Yeah, I said it.  You should use your professional judgement.  You are a highly qualified professional educator, or you wouldn't be teaching students.
Spend no more than 15 minutes on this.  You have other stuff to be doing - honestly!  This is all about taking small steps to make a huge impact on your students.  Make it colorful or unique so you can find it easily.  The kiddos can help you keep up with it, too.  Occasionally I need to ask my students, "Has anyone seen my orange binder?" and they tell me it's under a pile of papers on my desk.  {sigh}  Anywhoo, making it unique will help you out, especially if you are like me - more than slightly disorganized!!

There are many cute binder covers you can download or design for yourself for free, but here's another, just in case you need something in a hurry!  :)  There are 2 versions, one color, one black and white.  That way you can print it on colored paper (or have your kiddos color it for you!) if you don't want to print in color.  Click the image to download for free.
Do you teach struggling readers in grades 3-5? Click through to this blog post series walking you through the steps of assessment, planning, teaching, and reflecting as you support those struggling readers! Some freebies and cheat sheets for teachers are included!
In this series, we'll assess fluency, comprehension, and accuracy, then figure out what to do with all of this information to best help your kiddos.  Up next, the Assessments for Struggling Readers in Grades 3-5, Part 2.

If you have any questions you want answered in this series, feel free to email me or leave a comment below.  I'll do my best to address everyone's questions throughout these posts.
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