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Assessment During Individualized Daily Reading: Kid Watching

By Beth Newingham on June 3, 2013
  • Grades: 3–5

Franki Sibberson and Karen Szymusiak talk a great deal in their book, Day-to-Day Assessment in the Reading Workshop, about how guided reading can, at times, limit their ability to teach. Instead of looking at daily assessments and determining the best way to meet each reader's needs, they were caught up in the number of groups to schedule each day, the text level of the books, and the number of students in each group. I too often find myself stressing out over how many guided reading groups I am able to meet with in a week or how many conferences I can fit into a single IDR period.

They instead emphasize the need to focus on guiding readers rather than just managing guided reading groups. In order to do this they found that, on some days, their time was best spent doing what they call "kid watching." Because we are so busy teaching guided reading groups and strategy lessons, and conducting individual conferences, we are not always aware of everything that is happening around us.

During kid watching, the teacher grabs some sticky notes and writes down anything she notices as the kids are reading. I have begun to do this for part of IDR time at least once a week and have found it to be very beneficial. I have noticed things very similar to what Sibberson and Szymusiak found when doing it in their own reading workshops.

  • Students who are flipping through books instead of really reading ("fake reading").
  • Students who are getting up too often or moving around the room.
  • Students who are constantly switching books without finishing them.
  • Students who regularly feel the need to share their thoughts with other readers.
  • Students who are simply not engaged in their books or who are distracting others around them. Using what I learn from kid watching, I suddenly have new topics for individual conferences or perhaps even mini-lessons if I notice something that needs to be addressed with the entire class.

Comments (3)

Thank you for bringing this to light. Yes, take the time to "smell the roses" is akin to this idea of "kid watching." Valuable to inform the instruction in workshop time.

Yeah I've seen "fake-reading" many times before.

This is a great reminder that watching our students can yield valuable information about our students as learners.

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