Day-to-Day Assessment in the Reading Workshop by Franki Sibberson and Karen Szymusiak

Why should you read this book?

COVER Day-to-Day Assessment
We need to establish routines that afford us opportunities to assess in the context of authentic reading and writing experiences. Franki Sibberson & Karen Szymusiak

Whenever I share my enthusiasm for a reading workshop, teachers get excited too.  But, I am always asked about how do I grade students if there isn’t the weekly story test.

Teaching in a reading workshop format is different from using a basal reading program.  Teachers have more responsibility and options to use many different types of data (beyond a ten question-multiple choice test) to know their students’ reading strengths and areas of growth.  The primary reason teachers should read Day-to-Day Assessment in the Reading Workshop by Franki Sibberson and Karen Szymusiak is because it provides teachers the tools to identify, track, and record their students’ reading progress in a reading workshop format.  It will help teachers transition from a basal reading program to one that uses real books!

As teachers, we need to improve how we gather information about our students and how we share this new knowledge about a student’s learning with them during instruction – not after a test.

Here are some highlights of what Sibberson and Syzmusiak help teachers do:

  • Hold meaningful conversations about books with students
  • Provide students with written and verbal ways to respond to their reading
  • Create questions to elicit what students know or are curious about
  • Develop schedules so that you will meet with students for regular check-ins and also if additional support is needed
  • Observe students in structured and methodical ways – and they don’t even notice
  • Record these observations on a variety of templates that work best for you

In sum, teachers will be amazed at how much they know and can know about their students’ reading habits.  With this new and timely information, teachers will be able to provide descriptive feedback and guidance to their students – so they can be independent readers.


How can you use this book?

Day-to-Day Assessment in the Reading Workshop is a book that would be a sound pick for a summer read.  Then, along with your colleagues, I would reread each chapter during the first semester – one chapter at a time.  And, I would focus on the content and the literacy instruction goals of each chapter separately.  I think you will take away much more by giving yourself and your colleagues time to absorb the new information about reading workshop and assessments.

Equally important, I think you will benefit from you and your colleagues practicing similar mini-lessons and sharing your experiences.  Here you will be using the same type of formative assessment practice we strive for with our students on a daily basis.  And, I would strongly recommend that you schedule time to observe each other implementing the parts of a reading workshop.

The second way I rely on Day-to-Day Assessment in the Reading Workshop is by using many of the templates Sibberson and Syzmusiak created.  My two favorites are Status of the Class on page 181 and the Assessment Web on page 184.  I begin each reading workshop with Status of the Class – a quick check in and recording of each students’ daily reading progress.  Students look forward to sharing their progress and a quick share-out about either the story they are reading or a strategy they are nurturing.  I maintain a Status of the Class binder and leave it on a chair for their review.  I want them to know how I record their work and responses.  They need to be aware of their progress so they can continue to grow as independent readers.

The second template I use is the Assessment Web.  This template is a summary of the many different data used to identify a student’s reading progress.  These include: observations of students, notes from reading conferences, standardized test results, reviews from their writing journals, and participation in read aloud discussions.  I can add notes to this template during the quarter and use it when I prepare for conferences with students and parents.

In closing, I want to share an excerpt from Day-to-Day Assessment in the Reading Workshop that summarizes the creativity and depth of gathering data and assessing in a Reading Workshop.

“We are learning about our students every minute of every school day.  We observe behaviors, listen in on conversations, pay attention to response to whole-class lessons, look closely at reading notebooks, and more.  Using the information we gain, we are able to add to the profile we have of each student.  No assessment we use is better than another, and none of them is strong enough to stand alone.”