“Reading is the greatest single effort that the human mind undertakes, and one must do it as a child.”
We believe that students should experience the love of reading. To do this, students should be taught with a gradual release of responsibility from the teachers and have practice reading a variety of texts: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama, etc. We believe that students should be reading at their individual instructional level so that they are both challenged, yet not frustrated, with the difficulty of the text. We believe that students do not all learn in the same way; therefore, the teacher should use a balanced approach to instruction. A balanced approach would include the following:
- Phonemic awareness instruction
- Phonics Instruction
- Fluency Instruction
- Vocabulary Instruction
- Comprehension Instruction
Our goal is that every child will be reading at grade level by the end of 3rd grade. Beyond 3rd grade, instruction emphasizes vocabulary and comprehension strategies and literacy response and analysis. We believe that every K-8 teacher is a reading teacher, and that it is his or her responsibility to monitor student progress using district assessments, to help all students make meaning from text, and to support individual reading growth.
TEACHING METHODS AND MATERIALS
In order to address the balanced approach to reading instruction, teachers should use the following components in their reading program:
The teacher reads aloud daily to his or her students in order to model and discuss great literature. This component has the most teacher support. The teacher may use the literature to model comprehension strategies, compare texts, discuss a variety of literature elements, etc.
The students all have a copy of the text in front of them and the teacher and/or students read together. The purpose of shared reading is to model fluency, decoding skills, and effective comprehension strategies. This component has less teacher support than Reading Aloud. Materials used to deliver shared reading instruction include the Houghton Mifflin reading series for grades K-5 and McDougal Littel for grades 6-8.
Guided reading is small group instruction that occurs 3-5 days a week and focuses on students practicing skills at their individual reading level. This is the heart of the reading program for students in grades K-3. In grades 3-8, guided reading can take the form of reciprocal teaching or literature circles. Students read with the teacher in small groups and teachers determine a focus for the lesson: decoding, fluency, or comprehension. This component has less support than Shared Reading; the teacher acts as a guide, giving the student more independence in the reading process.
This component has the least amount of teacher support. The student has the opportunity within the school day to self-select books and work through the challenges of the text. During this independent reading time, the teacher has an opportunity to provide some direct instruction to target students. Some grade levels have goals and requirements for students to ensure they are reading a variety of texts and complete texts on a regular basis. Materials used for Independent Reading come from individual classroom libraries, school libraries, or books that the student acquires from home or other libraries.
Phonics and Vocabulary Instruction
Students also need to be exposed to systematic phonics (primarily grades K-3) and vocabulary instruction (primarily grades 3-8). This is primarily done in whole group instruction time and then can be followed up during guided reading if needed. Phonics and Vocabulary Teaching guides can come from the Houghton Mifflin reading series for grades K-5 and McDougal Littel for grades 6-8. Other phonics teaching guides include McCracken for grades K and 1 and Fountas and Pinnell.
Students should be taught the six comprehension strategies as a tool for making meaning. The strategies include: Using Schema to Make Connections, Visualizing, Inferring, Questioning, Determining Importance, Synthesizing, and Monitoring Reading. The strategies should be modeled in whole group instruction and can be practiced independently or in small groups.
- Teachers in grades K-4 will submit an alternate ranking of their students to their principals 2-3 times per year. The teacher fills out an alternate ranking sheet where the teacher ranks the students according to their reading abilities. The teacher then draws a line where he or she determines what grade level is at that point in the year. Students who are below the line are listed as “target students” and should then be participating in a variety of intervention strategies employed by the teacher and school.
- Teachers in grades K-4 should also determine each student’s instructional reading level by performing a running record to determine a student’s reading accuracy, reading fluency, and reading comprehension. This will be measured by using the DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment) each trimester and reported to parents on the report card. The following are benchmarks of when students should be reading at the various grades:
Kindergarten Levels A-B, level B by June, as developmentally appropriate
1st Grade Level D by November, level G by March, level I by June
2nd Grade Level J by November, level L by March, level M by June
3rd Grade Level N by November, level O by March, Level P by June
4th Grade Level Q by November, level R by March
4th grade teachers only need to report a book level for their students who are reading below grade level.
- Kindergarten and 1st grade teachers may also use The Observational Survey for their targeted students to determine the child’s concepts of print.
- Teachers in grade 5-8 may also administer the DRA for their target students to help determine specific reading problems. All students can also be administered the computerized Renaissance Learning Reading Test to determine their individual reading levels.
- Each 2nd – 8th grade teacher will administer the state standardized test in the spring of each year. In addition, when examining student STAR data in the fall, students who score below the Proficient Level on the CST or below the 50% percentile on the CAT-6, will be considered target students and will receive a variety of intervention strategies employed by the teacher and school.
Written by Administrative Council with additional drafts by Sarah Orton, Allison Liner, Debbie Mar, Candy Richard, Brenda Taylor, Marianne Peterson, Karrie Amsler, Paula Hunter, Patty Wool