I finished the standardized assessment for kindergarten today and I am ecstatic! While it was great to get to know another teacher’s students, I’m glad to be back with my own kids and our normal schedule. Before administering this assessment, we were given training by our assistant principle. There are multiple sections to this assessment and a couple of them left us guessing… What is the point of this section? What is it really assessing? The conclusion was reached that we just needed to stop questioning it – and do it. This assessment is a requirement of the county, we have to administer it – not pick it apart. Honestly, that was very hard for me. The last school district I was in we focused a lot on data and making sure we were appropriately assessing our students. Yes, we gave standardized assessments such as benchmarks and state tests – but every other assessment was so carefully thought out. Now, I think of every assessment in this way. Which is the way I should? Right? Let me get to the point of this post – reviewing the book I posted a couple weeks ago in Straddling the Line. I think it’s safe to say I’m in love with the possibilities this book presents. The author, Sharon Zinke, outlines lessons (not just for kindergarten) that can be used to quickly work on decoding so a teacher can focus the most of reading instruction on constructing meaning. The book comes with a DVD that has printables to make any flash cards you may need and videos of the lessons being taught. To me – the DVD makes it worth 14.99 (which isn’t bad to start). I am a visual learner. I like to see how it is done, then tweak it for my own purpose. Zinkes makes so many valid points (and affirming some of my own beliefs) – I can’t possibly list them all here with out copyright issues.
Here are some key points:
- Reading fluency isn’t about speed, but rather about appropriate rate.
- Even some fluently reading adults have trouble segmenting words into their individual phonemes (and I just assessed K students on this).
- Our brains love patterns! This is why we teach word families, onset, and rime. It is intuitive. Our brain functions as a pattern detector, and we find it much easier to detect patterns than to apply rules (Goswami & Bryant).
- Reading is all about constructing meaning. Letters and sounds should be presented in context. When students realize much more of the story can be found in the words and outside of the pictures, they learn much more about the grapho-phonemic cueing system.
- Immersion rather than mastery is the goal (with the Rime Magic sequence).
I plan on trying some of the techniques with a group of emerging readers before the year is over and during the summer with an individual student. So I’m going to hold on to my reading star and press forward!