Continuously Monitoring to Improve Reading Instruction

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  • 0:02 Reading Instruction
  • 0:35 Assessment & Monitoring
  • 2:13 Elements to Monitor
  • 4:03 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Reading is a complex process that involves many skills, and students' reading levels are constantly changing. This lesson looks at how teachers can use continuous monitoring of students to help them differentiate and improve reading instruction.

Reading Instruction

Joel is a reading teacher facing a problem. He has students of many different reading levels in his classroom, and he has to figure out how to help all of them to become better readers. Reading instruction involves teaching students how to read. Whether students are low level or high level, they need help to get them to the next level, and Joel owes every student his help and attention. But, how can Joel help students who are all different levels? One way to help students is through continuous monitoring.

Let's take a closer look at assessment and monitoring and what elements Joel should be paying attention to.

Assessment and Monitoring

Joel needs to help his students become better readers. But in order to do that, he needs to know what the strengths and limitations of each student are. For example, one student may be struggling to read, and might be several grade levels behind. Another student might be on or even ahead of their grade level in reading. But both of those students will have certain strengths and limitations, and by understanding what those are, Joel can help them improve their limitations.

So, how can Joel figure out what a student's strengths and limitations are? An assessment is a picture of where the student is in their ability in this moment. Assessments are often used synonymously with the word 'test,' but a test is only one type of assessment. Teacher observations, conversations with the student, and looking at a student's homework or classwork are just a few types of assessments.

Joel can monitor students through a combination of assessments. For example, a couple of times per semester, he might give his students a reading test. In between those tests, he could observe them reading, have conversations with them about what they are reading, and look at their work.

The key is that Joel's monitoring should be continuous. That is, Joel should be assessing student's reading pretty much all the time. That's because student levels change constantly, and teachers need to know where every student is so that they can provide specialized help. Of course, there's only one Joel, and many students, so he can't actually monitor his students all the time. But he'll certainly want to check in with students every day or two to make sure that the things he's working on with each student are still what that student needs.

Elements to Monitor

Continuous monitoring, as we've seen, can help Joel plan his instruction. But what, exactly, should he be assessing? What elements of reading should he monitor?

Reading is a complex act, and there are many elements that go into it. Four major things that Joel should monitor include:

1. Word analysis. Joel should pay attention to his students' word analysis skills, or the ability to understand word parts and use them to help figure out new words. By word parts, I mean things like prefixes, suffixes, and roots. Using these word parts to figure out an unknown word, a student is using their word analysis skills. Joel can monitor word analysis through student spelling, especially their ability to spell unfamiliar or complex words.

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