The new school year means a lot more than new classrooms and shiny school supplies. It means more than bus rides and packed lunches. It means more than learning a new routine and adapting to a new schedule.
The new school year also means that it’s a Reading New Year. Really. Not the kind of New Year where a ball is dropped and confetti is thrown at the stroke of midnight. Rather, the Reading New Year means that your child will experience a whole new chance to grow and learn as a reader.
Often, the Reading New Year is characterized by several universal elements. Here’s what they are so that you, as a parent, are most informed. If you have questions about any of these elements—or are wondering if your child will experience them—definitely reach out to your child’s teacher or school.
1. Testing: Beginning of the year assessments are for placement purposes, and they can take a number of different forms. Some schools do reading assessments on paper, or some may do them on tablets or iPads. Either way, this is usually a time when the teacher takes the student aside for a short, one-on-one reading. The child reads, and the teacher records responses.
2. Grouping: Teachers will group students according to the results of the initial assessment. Students may meet in these groups during Reading (or Literacy/Language Arts) Block or Guided Reading. The goal for any classroom grouping is flexibility, meaning that the groups can — and do — change often according to student needs.
3. A Reading, Literacy, or Language Arts Block: This is simply the term used to identify the 45-90 minutes of classroom time spent on reading, spelling, language arts, and sometimes writing instruction. Some schools break this ‘block’ into a separate Writing Block, but others may include it in the Language Arts Block.
4. Guided Reading: Guided Reading is the instructional approach most schools use for reading instruction. Guided Reading involves a teacher working with a small group of students who are of a similar skill level. The teacher follows very specific steps before, during, and after reading, and these groups are flexible, which means that they change often according to student needs.
5. Spelling Inventory: This is like a basic spelling test, where students simply write the words that are dictated by the teacher. However, unlike a standard spelling test, the teacher will analyze the student’s spelling errors to figure out where to begin Word Work instruction.
6. Word Work: Word Work is the ‘new’ spelling lesson. Instead of having students memorize random lists of spelling words, now, teachers help students to understand how words ‘work’ by focusing on spelling patterns, sound patterns, and meaning.
What else does the Reading New Year bring for your students and school? Share your thoughts with us on the Scholastic Parents Facebook page, or find Amy on Twitter @teachmama and let’s continue the conversation!