Guided Reading Book Study- Chapter 2!

I hope you are still reading along with me and the gals at Freebielicious!
I'm really loving this book study!!
Today is chapter 2---all about assessments!
I was intrigued to read this chapter because, like most teachers, assessing just isn't fun! It's usually pretty boring, repetitive and let's just face it, I often feel like I could better use my time straight up teaching! 

The author starts chapter two by giving suggestions for different types of assessments. Some suggestions included letter identification, sight words, dictated sentences and writing samples.  

At my school, our kindergarten team gives incoming kindergartners an assessment a few days before school starts.  We ask that parents bring their child in for a 20 minute screening that allows us to really see what the child already knows (and this information is later used to help us divide out the classes evenly with all different learning levels)! We simply made up a  3-4 pages assessment where we ask all of the basics--- knowledge of capital and lowercase letters, letter sounds, syllables, sentence segmentation, rhyming words, if they can write their name, beginning sounds and of course, a bunch of math stuff too! We made up a simple scoring guide and get a percentage correct for literacy, a percentage correct for math (so that we can see each area independent) and then we combine them and get an overall percentage as well.  We feel like giving them the test ahead of time, gives us a chance to test the children without other peers around (less distraction) and it gives us teachers some pretty solid information on what they are coming into kindergarten already knowing!

A HUGE moment for me was when Dr. Richardson was discussing the dictated sentences. She says we should ask students to write a sentence we dictate to them--start out easier and then get harder. 
She says, 
"...the real benefit in this assessment is determining how the student processes and records sounds." HELLO--- Yes, it is--DUH!!! I love that. 
She continues, "does the student hear any vowel sounds, digraphs  blends, or endings? I actually learn a lot more about children if they misspell a word than if they already know how to write it.  That is why I include words kindergartners and first graders would not normally know how to spell."  
This is another DUH for me here!! I mean, seriously! We all know this but I guess I never really stopped to think about it in this way!
She finishes by saying, " will learn how the child forms letters and which letter formation you need to teach." 
I quote all of that to say that was a pretty powerful paragraph for me.  We do not assess with sentence dictation but now I am considering it! That paragraph was such a big ol' DUH for me! She's so right...we often get so happy when they can write a sentence correctly that we often forget that we can learn so much more when the student has to stop, think, stretch sounds and make sentences! 

The next big part of the chapter focuses on a running record---we all do this, all of the time, whether you realize you do it or not! A running record will tell you what skills you still need to teach or reteach.  It's a very valuable tool! The author reminds us that just because a child can read a given sentence does not mean they fully understand it! She says, "it is always a good idea to ask the student to retell after a running record to find out how much a student remembers."  I know for me, too often, if the student can read something, I say great and keep going.  I sometimes forget to ask if they really understand what they just read!!
Wait for it---here it comes---DUH!!! This is another big DUH moment for me!! Something so simple can really make a big difference and save you tons of time later on!

There are 6 main steps in a running record:
  1. Determine the accuracy level-- simply divide the number of words read correctly by the total number of words in a given selection and it will give you a percentage! 
  2. Analyze the errors-- is the student using semantics, syntax, or visual clues
  3. Analyze strategies-- does the student self monitor? does the student use cross- checking when figuring out words they don't know? does the student self-correct?
  4. Assess fluency-- figure out the WCPM (words correct per minute) by dividing the number of words read correctly by the total time it took to read the passage. I loved the reminder that the author gave here: "strategic readers often read slower if the reread to monitor or stop to figure out an unknown word"---that's a good thing to keep in mind! 
  5. Assess comprehension-- Insert my big "DUH" moment here!! 
  6. Select a focus for instruction-- Basically use what you have just learned from the running record to figure out what you need to focus on for your guided reading instruction!
This will definitely be a chapter in this book that I reference often when I return to the classroom in the fall and start implementing my guided reading!! 

I hope you enjoyed my ah-ha moments from this chapter and I hope you learned a little something too!
Be sure to link up here if you are reading along with us chapter by chapter! If you aren't linking up, be sure to interact by leaving comments on the post!

Happy Thursday!!


  1. Assessment is definitely my weakness. I am looking forward to finishing this chapter. Thank you!

  2. I too had some a-ha moments with this chapter. I have always done a beginning assessments that included letter identification, sounds, rhyming, retelling, and word dictation but never sentences. I will have to think about adding those now.


  3. Would you be willing to share your beginning assessment? I really like the idea of having the children coming in early to do this.

    1. The assessment is on my school computer. I will blog about it when I get to that computer! :)

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