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Welcome to my blog! I use my blog as a way to reflect, share, organize, and re-conceptualize my views as an educator. Enjoy and feel free to comment, post, disagree, and share your opinion. The more perspectives, the better!

Monday, January 9, 2012

It's all about the data: Semester Review

My first semester as a teacher ended right before winter break. Since I took the majority of winter break for relaxation, family, friends, and a very good football game, I am just now getting to really look at and analyze my data! The nerd in me REALLY loves looking at data so this is a fun post for me.

First up, my running record levels. Running Record Reading levels rule pretty much everything at my school (DIBELS and DEA coming in 2nd and 3rd respectively) so running records are always the first thing I look at. I use my running record levels to determine my guided reading groups, student partnering, seating and beginning next week my word study instruction. Here is a look at the reading growth my students have made:
Running Records Growth
TFA Benchmark Goals
I am proud of the progress my class has made, but there is definitely room to grow. I have a few all-star students who have grown over 10 levels so far and several students who are on pace to make at least a year's worth of growth. What worries me is that I have a few students who have shown little or no growth. 

My other major concern is that only 7 of my students (less than half of my class) are reading above the first grade benchmark for this time of year. This means that despite growth being made, they are still reading below a first grade level. One of my driving goals for this year is that my students will make 1.5 years of progress (or grow 15+ levels) so that they are adequately prepared for second grade. This is seeming like a long shot for many of my students which is really frustrating. 

Once I had the data I realized a few things. While I am proud of my progress (especially considering the amount of time during the first semester I had to spend on classroom management and routines), I have a lot of work to do if I am going to meet my Big Goals. The teaching methods I have been using need to be revamped.

I am spending to much time teaching to "the middle." The middle is typically a safe place to teach to, but if you look closely at my data you will see that my students are divided into "high" and "low" groups. The low group consists of students who are all under a level 5 reading level. Students are actually supposed to enter first grade on a level five so these are students who have not yet mastered kindergarten reading skills. When I teach to the middle I alienate these students or find myself asking them the lower-order questions so they can feel successful. My higher students are not being challenged enough and often answer questions so fast that they students who need to think about it cannot get a chance ("wait time" is difficult in a first grade classroom b/c inevitably someone will whisper of shout out the answer). 

With this divide in mind I have decided to revamp my schedule so that I am spending more time working with small groups of students who are working on specific skills. I have dedicated my math block every Wednesday to be an intervention hour. I will have my students playing math enrichment games, using an online program called https://www.xtramath.org/, and meeting with me in small groups. My table will be a combination of math re-teaching and hopefully also time to address some reading skills my students need. I am also going to try to work with some of the third and fourth grade teachers to have a few student volunteers in my classroom to help my students with AR testing and even tutoring a few students.

I am also going to divide my word study instruction into two ability level groups. As I was doing report cards I realized that my low group (the below 5s) did not pass a single spelling test this entire quarter so I am going to go back and re-teach some of these skills as well as do some vowel sound remediation with them. My higher group will start word study independently while I teach the low group. The word study routine is something these students have mastered so I think they will be able to handle it without the lesson first and then the two groups will switch. I built in a 3 minute transition time so that I can check the high group's work in between sessions. During this same time I have one student who will be going to a kindergarten classroom to get additional reading support and one student I have developed an independent word study lesson for.

This student is so high that even when among my other high readers she is not being challenged. So starting this week she will be going to a second grade classroom in the morning for reading and then during word study I have her set up on http://www.spellingcity.com/ with her own differentiated word list based on the Words Their Way spelling inventory. I have created a checklist so she can study independently and on Friday I can give her an online quiz. 

Click here for a copy of the differentiated spelling checklist

So begins a new 9 weeks. I am trying a LOT of new things. Right now my only concern is if I can handle the preparation and time involved with setting up so many new systems and procedures. It is a new year and for me it is really a "now or never" type of thing so ready or not, here I come!

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