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Help! Why aren't my students growing??

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107krm 107krm is offline
 
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Help! Why aren't my students growing??
Old 07-28-2010, 12:31 PM
 
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I have been teaching for 8 years. For some reason my students' reading scores (NWEA computerized testing), are way low. They have been low for the past few school years. I have to be doing something wrong. Why aren't my kids showing growth? I am looking for ideas of how to teach reading better...better meet the needs of all of my students. So, what are your ideas? What are the most effective strategies you have used? Thanks!

FYI: I recently was trained in CAFE and have dabbled a little in Daily 5. 2008-2009 I used literature circles based on genres. 2009-2010 I went back to using our basal reader (Open Court) and sprinkled in a few lit. circles.


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Ideas
Old 07-28-2010, 02:06 PM
 
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If they aren't improving in reading, they aren't reading enough. Incorporate a home reading program with a log and incentives. Put in a silent reading time of 30 -40 minutes within your day with books of their choice, but at an appropriate level. Have a bookshare time so that they can talk about their books.

Have a read aloud time that is a shared reading time in which you also discuss the book, the vocab, the author's use of language, etc, and get them excited about books.

Anything you can do to get them reading more than just in reading class.
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jist finished reading Igniting a Passion
Old 07-28-2010, 03:56 PM
 
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for REading by Stephen Layne and Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller. I enjoyed them- both authors believe the best thing to improve student reading is to make sure students are reading lots. Stenhouse actually has the entire book (Igniting a Passion) online right now so I read it on line in a day or two- easy read.

Tried to edit my title to correct the typo but can't - should be Just not jist

Last edited by maryw; 07-28-2010 at 03:57 PM.. Reason: correct typos
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A different approach
Old 07-28-2010, 03:56 PM
 
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107krm - I read the Book Whisperer this summer and posted to get some feedback on the ideas presented in this book. One respondant even gave a link to another resource that you can read on-line. Try this thread and see what others have said related you your question. http://www.proteacher.net/discussion...d.php?t=266178 (4th grade board posted on 7/28).

I haven't tried it yet, but many of the ideas presented made sense to me. Good luck!
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Read! Read! Read!
Old 07-28-2010, 05:40 PM
 
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First of all, good for you for wanting to improve your teaching and help your students be better readers. IMO, that is a sign of a good teacher . I don't have much experience with upper grades or using CAFE, but feel I use good strategies when it comes to reading. I agree with the other posters, you need to make sure your students are reading at THEIR level. It can be tricky because they may pick something that is too easy or too difficult. I have given students sticky notes and have them write down words they don't know or questions they have. Then, I make sure to meet with them periodically to go over their notes. We use AR which helps with their comprehension. I also do fluency tests with them. But, nothing can replace just plain old reading. Good luck!


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You can't go wrong with tons of reading!
Old 07-28-2010, 07:27 PM
 
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Several people have recommended The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller and I can't say enough about it! I have always had strong E/LA test scores and I now realize it's because I've been doing a lot of what Donalyn Miller has been doing (but, of course, I can always do more!). You will really feel empowered once you read it! Good luck to you!
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NWEA reports (long)
Old 07-28-2010, 07:31 PM
 
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I know with the NWEA assessment, there are certain skills/vocabulary that are targeted that are not necessarily an accurate assessment of whether a student is a good reader. Several of my 6th graders last year (not even just my high ones) had questions asking them about colloquialism . But, it is what is and our district uses this assessment, so I try to make the best of it.

I've discovered some of the reports on their site that have made it easier to analyze what skills my students need. If you don't have access to this site, definitely ask your testing coordinator because it's very helpful!

Once you log-in, click the link on the left-hand side called "Class by RIT." Then choose the testing time (Spring, Fall, etc) and class (if you teach multiple classes), then click submit. This should bring up the report called "Class Breakdown by Overall RIT Score." It will show where your students fall in each subject as well as the major RIT ranges. You can then select a subject and it will show where students fall in the different strands (i.e. geometry, measurement, etc). Then, if you either click on the strand name, the individual student name, or <<all students in a cell>>, it will give you the DesCartes report for that strand/student/group of students.

The DesCartes tells you the main skills that are targeted in each strand in the various RIT ranges. It will give you the skills/concepts to introduce, develop and enhance. Now, what I do with all this information (and yes it takes time, but IMO is worth it) is sit down with all the reports for my students who are below grade level and look at the skills that the majority of them are missing (skills to introduce) that my other students are getting. This helps me to identify some of the skills that may be weaker in my math, reading, or LA programs so I know what I maybe need to spend more time on. I don't consider that teaching to the test, but it does take time. I also use these reports with my students when doing goal setting.

Sorry for the long explanation. Hope it helps. If you already knew all this, well hopefully it will help someone else as well. Send me a PM with your email if you can't access the DesCartes and I will see if I can download a full copy of it. I know it's a massive document and will never fit on PT. It won't have the personalization of your students already grouped, but it would at least be something.

I added a document that shows the analysis of my data this last year. This document shows the progression of my students' scores through time (so the percent at grade level from 2nd grade to the present). Over Christmas break after they took their winter assessments I analyzed their data/reports and adjusted/modified my small groups based on that information (I didn't have a math program because our district math program didn't go to 6th so I was able to teach math however I wanted). Sometimes you have to toot your own horn, and sometimes it's nice to do that on pt because it's anonymous.
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Last edited by Amanda_09; 07-28-2010 at 07:48 PM..
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Testing Vocab
Old 07-29-2010, 07:57 AM
 
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Like a PP, I noticed that there was a lot of language that my students did not understand (parallelism)--and looking over their shoulders, there were some items that were very confusing to me!! I would recommend going over the DesCartes information where each RIT range is broken down according to what students scoring at each level should be able to do. I found it helpful to look through that information and identify key vocab and concepts. I noticed that a good deal of the assessment dealt with genre and figurative language. I don't remember if it was the reading test or LA, but I noticed a ton of questions about elements/tactics of advertisements (which is something that we don't have in our standards/curriculum), so if I want the kids to show more growth, I need to go over some of these things that I normally wouldn't.

Unfortunately, it does seem like "teaching to the test", but I also think it's unfair to expect students to perform on an assessment with a lot of unfamiliar concepts/vocab words. Our district just adopted NWEA testing, so it doesn't really align too well with our district or state standards. Because of our student population, our scores tend to be much lower than the rest of the district, so it's especially important that my students show growth, which is why I feel looking over the concepts that high-scoring students are expected to know, is well worth my time.
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Completely agree
Old 07-29-2010, 12:48 PM
 
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with the PP -- one easy item you can adjust is the vocabulary/terminology that you are using. Could be that a difference in terminology causes some confusion when kids are answering questions.

There is a section of Descartes that gives you a brief overview of the skills and vocabulary that students need to test into different RIT ranges. This was really useful because it also gives you a snapshot view of the skills the test may be on.
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