Most of us are beginning our second semester with lots of exciting plans and energy. I hope part of your plan is to reflect on the literacy successes from the first semester and identify a few areas of growth – those areas that need more attention and some tweaking.
In order to guide this reflection, I recommend that we – teachers – use the same three questions that we use in our formative assessment process with our students.
- Where am I going?
- Where am I now?
- What strategy or strategies can help me get to where I need to go?
The strength of formative assessment is that it requires us to be consistently checking in with our students. Having a conversation or conference, reading a journal entry, or reviewing a graphic organizer on main idea and supporting evidence are examples of how we can gather information about our students’ progress toward mastering a learning target. We need to do that same self-check with our goals to improve our literacy instruction.
Let’s use your classroom library as the exemplar for checking in on your literacy plan. I always have two goals for the classroom library. First, I want to organize the classroom library to support students becoming independent readers. Second, I want to use the classroom library to support instruction. Today we will use the first goal and formatively assess where we are towards meeting this goal!
Step 1 Where am I going?
(Focus on the learning goal)
My goal this year for my classroom library is to organize it to support students becoming independent readers.
Step 2 Where am I now?
(Take stock of where current work is in relation to the goal)
So far I have:
- Organized books by subject areas – i.e. biographies, sports, animals, healthy living, and planets.
- Created authors’ baskets when I had 5 or more books of one authors.
- Identified shortage of fantasy and informational books.
- Provided spaces for students to be comfortable while reading.
- Created a system for borrowing books – 250 books in our library.
- Explained to students how to choose a book.
Step 3 What strategy or strategies can help me get to where I need to go?
(Take action to move closer to the goal)
If this is your classroom, you are off to a strong start. But, you are right. There is more to be done to meet your classroom library goal.
- Have you talked to your colleagues about how they created and maintain their classroom libraries?
- Have you shown your students how to choose a book?
- Do you want some books to be “leveled” to help guide students to a “just right” book?
- Have you considered creating a book basket that is labeled by an essential question – not by a topic? For example, “What makes these people heroes?” instead of “Biographies.”
- Could you borrow some good fantasy reads and accessible informational books from your school library?
- Can you ask your PTA for a grant to purchase more books?
Resources to Get Growing
- Your Classroom Library: New Ways to Give it More Teaching Power by D. Ray Reutzel and Parker C. Fawson. Scholastic