Data Tracking and Student Growth, Part III

We have been looking at data tracking and student growth. In Part I, we looked at the importance of a good data tracking system, and in Part II, we discussed three reading assessments I recommend. 

Today, we will be looking at recording data. There are many ways you can record data, but for me, a good old fashioned spreadsheet works best. If you are a teacher who collaborate with other teachers or shares students, I recommend using Google Sheets. This way, you will both have direct access to data.

Here is how I approach data collection: 

  • Create a spreadsheet and make separate pages for each assessment.
  • On the first page you create, list student names along left column.
  • Copy and paste student list to each new assessment page.
  • Decide how you want to label columns. For example, for Dibels assessment (I talk about this in Part II), have columns for: Fall Words Per Minute, Fall Error Medium, and then do the same for winter and spring. 
  • Enter score for each student.

This is a very basic description of data collection. Each teacher will discover what works best once they start a systematic data system. Some teachers prefer a paper chart in a binder; others learn to customize their charts, color code, and make graphs. There are many ways to approach data collection. The important thing is to have the data, and have it organized and readily accessible. 

Data Tracking and Student Growth, Part II

In Part I, I wrote about how important it is for teachers to have an efficient data tracking system in place. In Part II, we will look at some of the assessments I use, and how I use them to measure student growth.

A few reliable assessments I like to use include: 

  • Dibels (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy). I use this assessment to measure grade-level reading fluency. The good news is–it’s FREE! (The not so good news is it takes a long time to assemble once printed and is somewhat confusing to assemble)  Type “Dibels” in your search engine and download from the University of Oregon. At the beginning of the year, make packets for each student and grade level (for me, that means grades K-6). Give your students each 3 one-minute timed passages to read. This will take place three times a year in fall, winter, and spring. Each time, calculate the words per minute for the three passages, as well as errors, and record the median score. You will now have your student’s grade level fluency rate. This is great solid data to have, and will show whether your students are making growth in their decoding and fluency.
  • DRA, (Developmental Reading Assessment). I have worked at four different schools, and they have all had a set of DRAs. As such, I am hoping you have access to this assessment. The DRA will give you a fluency rate once students are decoding, but I like to use it primarily to look at reading comprehension and writing skills. The assessment has a range of what it tests, depending on grade level, but once students are decoding, they read a passage and answer comprehension questions and write a passage. It is always a good idea to have a leveled writing assessment. This will show whether students are on grade-level, ahead, or lagging behind. The one tricky thing about the DRA is it is graded based on a rubric, and though mostly structured, it can be a little more subjective when graded depending on the teacher.
  • QPA (Quick Phonics Assessment). This is another assessment that you can download for FREE. A colleague recently introduced me to this test, and I really like. Each subtest looks at different phonetic reading skills, and gives you a good idea where to focus. For example, you may see a deficit in r-controlled vowels, vowel teams, and multisyllabic words. This, in turn, helps guide your teaching instruction and address areas of need and deficits. 

I hope this helps! In Part III, we will look at tracking methods, and what to do if you find you have a student (or students) who isn’t showing growth. Have a wonderful weekend! 

The Six Syllable Types: Vowel Teams (Part II)

Vowel Teams are common letter combinations that include at least one vowel.  

In Part I, I gave a brief overview of Vowel Teams. Below are some examples of Vowel Teams, and how you might see these used in teaching. I hope this helps!

 

  • ai, ay (wait, train, pay, stay)
  • au, aw (haunt, paw)
  • ee,ey,ea (seed, key, bead)
  • oi, oy (coin, toy)
  • oa, oe, ow (coat, toe, row)
  • ou, oo, ue, ew (soup, tool, cue, blew)

You may have heard the jingle (or have seen a video), “When two vowels do the walking, the first one does the talking.” For instance, in the word “bait,” the /a/does the “talking,” as in a long sound. There are some cute free videos teaching this concept on the internet.

Vowel teams can be tricky as the same team can make different sounds. For example, /ea/makes a long e, but can also make a short e, as in bread) Teach the most common pronunciation first, and if this pronunciation does not make sense, try different vowel team sounds.

Vowel digraphs, vowel diphthongs, and words with the similar or same vowel sound are often taught alongside each other in reading lessons and worksheets. For instance, the following long vowel sounds might be taught together: ai, ay, and a-consonant-silent e as in say, bait, bake, plane, train, etc. This helps students concentrate on one vowel sound at a time.

The Six Syllable Types: Vowel Teams (Part I)

Vowel Teams are the sixth syllable type we will discuss.

Vowel Teams are letter combinations that include at least one vowel. For example, the /ay/ in the first syllable, and the /ea/ in the second syllable of the word “daydream” each make a vowel team. 

There are some distinctions among vowel teams. They are:  

  • Vowel Digraphs are two vowels together that make one sound, such as ee in beet.
  • Vowel Diphthongs occur when one vowel sound glides into another, such as oi in toil.
  • Vowel Teams can consist of different letter combinations/not all vowels, such as igh in light or ow in cow.

For simplicity, I teach two vowels side by side using the phrase, “Vowel Teams,” rather than the more technical terms above. Teaching vowel teams is fundamental in teaching reading. I will discuss more in next post.

The Six Syllable Types: R-Controlled

Continuing on with the six syllable types…

R-Controlled Syllables:

  • Have a single vowel followed by an r.
  • -ar, -er, -ir,  -or, and –ur.
  • The vowel before the vowel is neither long nor short.

If you have been teaching for a bit, you may have heard simple words with this syllable type as having a “bossy r.” This is because the r controls the vowel. R-controlled syllables can be part of multisyllabic words.

Some examples are:

ar:  car, far, tar, star, car·pet, mar·ket 

er: her, hy·per,

ir:  firm, bird, dirt

or:  born, torn, worn, for·get

ur:  turn, churn, sur·vey

These words are often best taught together, and in context. For example, students need to know the meaning of fur versus fir.

The Six Syllable Types: Consonant-le Syllable

gif_2726-Elementary-School-Design-Books-And-Apple (1)This week, we are taking a look at the syllable type: consonant -le.

Consonant-le Syllables:

  • Have three letters, a consonant, an l and an e (there can be a /s/ added to make words plural).
  • The e is silent.
  • The syllable is the last syllable in a multisyllabic word.

Some examples are: apple, crumble, sparkle, giggles, brittle, vehicle, little, multiple, snuggle, rectangle, etc.

There are some words with exceptions to this rule. The exception occurs when the consonant is an s. It makes the t silent, and the sound is a /l/. As in bus·tle, whis·tle, and cas·tle.

This is a great syllable type/spelling pattern to teach, as it is fairly straightforward. I hope this helps!

A Gift for You: Words for Writers

IMG_1657I’ve put together a great resource for teachers and parents. This “Words for Writers & Editor’s Checklist” is a list of the most commonly used words in English, and will help your students/child with spelling and writing. If it is a very common word, such as “who, what, when, where, and why,” then the word will be listed in this small packet.

This comes as a gift when you sign up for my free quarterly newsletter (see sidebar to right to sign up/ or click here to see homepage/sidebar). My quarterly newsletter, which is a one page e-mail, offers tips, stories, and information that will be especially helpful in working with your students and/or child.”Words for Writers” will be included as a PDF. 

IMG_1658This freebie will help you give some ownership back into your students’ hands. If you know it is a basic, common word, you can direct them to look it up.

We have a book binder at our school, so I bound mine, but a heavy duty stapler works as well.

I promise to never, ever spam you or share your email!

The Six Syllable Types: Vowel-Consonant-e Syllable

This week we will look at vowel-consonant-e syllables.

A Vowel-Consonant-e Syllable:

  • Has a vowel, consonant, and then an e.
  • The first vowel is a long vowel sound.
  • The e is silent.

gif_book121This rule is among the first rules we teach with regards to long vowels and single syllable words. Examples include: cake, cape, kite, ride, cove, rose, tube, and cute. We emphasize that the silent e makes the previous vowel say its “name”—that is, a long vowel sound. Students need to be able to differentiate between a short and long vowel sound to understand this syllabication type.

I like to have students look at the difference between words when the silent e is added. For instance, “cap” turns to “cape” with the silent e. “Hop” turns to “hope.” Have students practice reading words with and without the silent e.

This syllable type can be found in multisyllabic words, often paired with a closed syllable. Examples include: in·vite, name·sake (two cvce syllables), rep·tile, dis·crete, etc.

There are some exceptions to this rule. In English, words do not end in the letter /v/.  Words like “give,” glove,” and “solve” do not have a long vowel. Other common words that are exceptions are: palace, favorite, justice, notice, damage, etc.

If you are interested, I have a nice unit on TeachersPayTeachers where students can read short stories and practice this syllable pattern (at the K/1st grade level). 

The Six Syllable Types: Open Syllables

jpg_seeBefore summer break, I started a series on the six basic syllable types. I blogged generally on the six types, and on closed syllables and more on closed syllables. Today I am resuming with open syllables.

As a refresher, the logic behind teaching syllable types is that it helps take the mystery out of reading, especially for students with reading disabilities. Students are given the tools to attack a word, and break it down into smaller, readable parts.

Open Syllables:

  • End in one vowel.
  • The vowel sound is long.

Examples of open syllables are: hi, so, he, she, try, si·lent (“si” is open), re·pent, by·line.

The Exceptions: The a can make the schwa sound as in A·las·ka. The i can make the short i sound as in com·pli·cate.

Next week we will look at vowel-consonant-e syllables.

The Six Syllable Types: More on Closed Syllables

gif_book121As a recap, closed syllables have one short vowel and end in one or more consonant. Examples include: chip, click, hap·pen, chip·munk, splash, etc. Closed syllables can be paired with other syllable types; but when you first begin teaching, try to stick to words with only closed syllables. Also, highlight blends and digraphs (see previous posts on those), as many closed syllable words are made with these letter combinations.

Some ideas to teach closed syllables include:

  • Make syllable cards and have students form words. (Anytime you can include a multi-sensory approach, this is helpful.)
  • Give students words with closed syllables and have them circle the short vowel and underline the ending consonant(s).
  • Give students simple sentences and have them identify the closed syllables by the method listed above. For example: The cat sat by the plump pig (circle the vowel).

Closed Syllable Exceptions

Of course, in English, there are always exceptions. Here are some of the more common exceptions:

  • ild, as in child, mild, wild
  • ind, as in blind, kind, mind
  • old, as in cold, mold, told.
  • olt, as in bolt, colt, jolt
  • ost, as in host, most, post

In these instances, the vowel makes a long sound, rather than the short vowel sound, as is typical in closed syllables. It is helpful to teach the sound and spelling of these letter combinations, as they are fairly common.

Remember, teaching/learning syllable types takes time, and there needs to be a lot of repetition and review. Still, over time, your students who struggle with reading will start to have the tools they need to attack reading and spelling.