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Supporting Our Struggling Readers in Kindergarten and First Grade (Levels AA-D)

This resource is …
a guide to helping you support and push your lower and struggling readers to meet their goals. We often see some of our lowest readers stalling
and not making the growth that would be on pace to hit their big goals by the end of the year.
When and Why should I use this?
If you currently have students that are behind or stalling in their reading growth, this guide can be used to help you problem solve around what is
holding them back and make a strategic and aligned unit plan that will meet their needs. It will to give you insight on the building blocks of literacy,
determine what foundational skills your students may be missing that are holding them back, and show you how to proactively plan to strategically
meet their needs to ensure they hit their goals by the end of the year.
How should I use this?
Use this resource to unit plan your remediation or guided reading blocks for your most struggling readers.

What is in this resource?

I. Where are you in relation to where you want to be? How far behind are your struggling readers? How much do they need to grow for the
remainder of the year to hit their goals?
II. Scope and Sequence for the building blocks of literacy in Kindergarten and First grade – including phonics and the alphabetic principle,
phonological and phonemic awareness, and reading behaviors.
III. A guide on how to analyze your student data – analyzing your reading assessment results will ensure you are planning specifically to meet the
needs of each of your students. Our struggling readers need this level of planning to ensure they are able to overcome any obstacles holding
them back.
IV. Guide on how to create rigorous and strategic guided reading or intervention unit plans that will put your students on the path to meeting their
goals.
V. A list of additional resources that can be found to support your students in all parts of literacy.
I. Where am I in relation to my goals?

If you have readers that are not on track to hitting their goals, it is helpful to re-establish your goals and benchmark them so you are clear where your
students need to be each month. For your struggling readers, determine how far away they are from their goals and divide that by the number of
months left in the school year. The answer will tell you how much your student needs to grow each month till the end of the school year to hit his/her
goal. This will help you stay focused on your goal as you plan to meet the needs of this particular student or group of students. An example is below.

A fun word problem and benchmarking example: It is the end of January and my first grade student should have moved to .67 years worth of reading
growth to be on track to hitting his big goal. However, he has only made .5 years’ worth of reading growth. How much growth must he make every
month to hit 1.5 years’ worth of growth by the end of June (5 months from now)?

Step 1: 1.5 (goal) - .5 (progress so far) = 1 years’ worth of reading growth needed by the end of the year
(If you are shooting for a mastery goal in kindergarten, take their current reading level and subtract it from your goal level. You can convert letter
levels to numbers if needed. Your result won’t be in “years’ worth of growth” but rather in “reading levels of growth” needed.)
Step 2: 1 (growth needed) ÷ 5 (months left in school) = .2 years’ worth of reading needed each month to hit his goals by the end of the year
Step 3: Establish new benchmarks

Month January February March April May June


Reading Growth .5 .7 .9 1.1 1.3 1.5
(cumulative)

Now it’s your turn! Use your own data to determine where individual readers, or groups of readers with similar growth, are in relation to your big goal. This
will show you how much more work you have to do by the end of the year. If you have individual students or groups of students at different levels of growth
or different reading levels, you will likely need to do separate calculations for each of them.

Your next step will be to isolate the specific knowledge and skills holding students back from more growth.

If you teach in New York City:


Below is the New York City Benchmarking for On Track to 1.5 years’ worth of growth and Within Reach to 1 year worth of reading growth. If your students are on pace with
one of the levels below, then if their growth continues they would make either Significant or Solid gains.
K Jan. Feb. March April May June
Reading
Gains
On Track 0.24 0.5 0.75 1 1.25 1.5 or
Level E

Within 0.17 0.34 0.51 0.68 0.85 1 or Level


Reach C

1st and November December January February Mid- April May June
2nd Grade March

On-Track 0.33 0.5 0.67 0.83 0.98 1.2 1.35 1.5


Within
Reach 0.22 0.33 0.44 0.55 0.65 0.8 0.9 1

II. Early Literacy Scope and Sequence

Often when our students are struggling and not moving, they are missing foundational skills in literacy that are needed to decode and comprehend
text. Below is the scope and sequence for these foundational skills. This can be used as a checklist or assessment to determine what your students
have and do not have. Even students that are at a Level D can be missing very basic skills that will prevent them from moving up.

Phonemic/Phonological Awareness Alphabetic Principle/Phonics Reading Behaviors*


Stage 1

 Listen attentively to different types of sounds. Identify, name, and write all 26 alphabet Levels Pre-AA and AA
 Listen to rhymes letters  How to hold a book right-side up
 Recite rhymes  Print progresses from left to right
 Anticipate rhyming words (when singing or  The cover and what information it contains
reciting rhymes)  Where the title is located and what information it gives
 Generate rhyming words readers
 Hear and distinguish between short and long  What authors and illustrators do
words  How to use the numbers at the bottom of the page
 Hear and count words in sentences  Words are bounded by spaces
 Clap syllables in familiar words  Words are made of letters and some words are longer
than others
 The length of the word tells us something about how
long it is to say
 Sentences begin with capital letters and end with
punctuation marks, including periods, exclamation
marks, and questions
Stage 2
All of the above, plus: Identify, name, and write all 26 alphabet Level A
 Recognize and use sentences to express a letters AND produce letter sounds to be  Differentiates print from pictures
complete thought taught in the following order (see the  Holds book correctly/turns pages LR
 Recognize that a sentence is made up of a Elementary Literacy text for this scope &  Reads words with correct directionality
combination of individual words sequence)  Emergent 1-1 correspondence
 Recognize that a sentence is meaningful  Locates known and new words
because of its words and the order in which /p/
 Remembers/uses language patterns
they are spoken /s/
 Makes connections to book
 Put syllables together to make a word /ă/ as in pat
 Recognize that words contain individual sounds /t/ Level B
 Repeat individual sounds /l/
 Controls 1-1 correspondence across 2 lines of text
 Isolate initial sounds /b/
 Notices/interprets details in pictures
/i/ as in tip
 Isolate ending sounds  Talks about ideas in the text
/d/
 Isolate remedial sounds  Remembers and uses language patterns
/k/
 Determine which word in a group has an “odd” Group Two  Uses sight word knowledge to check on reading
sound /m/  Uses 1-1 correspondence to check on reading
 Delete particular sounds in a word /r/  Uses first letter cues to read known and new words
 Add particular sounds to a word /ĕ/ as in pet  Begins to self-monitor
 Segment sounds—pull apart each sound in a /f/  Rereads to confirm or figure out new words
word /g/
/n/ Level C
/k/  Begins to track print with eyes, using finger at
/u/ as in bug points of difficulty
Group Three  Correctly utilizes punctuation
/h/  Uses picture details to figure out difficult words
/j/  Uses 1-1 matching to check on reading
/w/  Solves some new words independently
/ŏ/ as in hog  Quickly recognizes and correctly uses known words
/v/  Searches for understanding while reading
/y/
Group Four Level D
/z/ spelled z, _s, zz
 Remembers language patterns and repeating events
/s/ spelled ss, ce
over longer stretches of time
/ch/ spelled ch, tch
/th/  Self-corrects, using visual information
/sh/  Controls directionality and 1-1 correspondence with
/wh/ eyes, using finger only at points of difficulty
 Remembers details from the text and pictures
 Pays close attention to words and their structural
features (for example, endings)
 Solves new words using knowledge of sound/letter
relationship and word parts (decoding)
 Searches for understanding while reading
* Reading levels correspond to F&P AND Reading A to Z. A correlation chart can be found at http://www.readinga-z.com/correlation-chart.php
II. Analyzing Your Student Data to Meet Your Students’ Needs

If you are struggling to figure out what is holding a student back from moving up levels or learning basic reading skills, the best place to look first is your
assessments.

Analyzing Running Records


Analyze the students’ running records to identify trends in the skills that held your students back from moving up to the next reading level.
• What phonics skills did they miss? Write these down as these should be added to the unit you will create (in the next step) to meet these students’
needs.
• What decoding/word attack strategies did they not use? Write these down as these should be added to your unit.
• What comprehension questions did your students answer incorrectly? Were they literal, inferential, or critical thinking comprehension questions?
Write these types of questions down as these should be added to your unit.
• What other skills are in the running records assessment or benchmark reading assessment book that you will need to teach to ensure that your
students will be successful the next time you assess them on this level? Use the benchmark book to identify the necessary skills, and teach these
skills to help your students successfully complete the book during the next assessment.

Analyzing Other Assessments


• Guide to Literacy ECE Assessments and Tracking Tools on the resource exchange contains a collection of early elementary assessments that can be useful in
determining what breakdown is occurring with your students.
• Reading readiness checklist – Use the checklists of Reading Behaviors above as an assessment tool—check off the skills that your students have, and add the
ones they do not have to your list of items to teach.

What do I if I don’t have enough information?


• Use Help! My Student Isn’t Making Progress (below) to help you assess which of the foundational skills in the scope and sequence your student may be missing.

III. Unit Planning to Meet Your Students’ Needs

Now that you know what your students are struggling with and what is holding them back from progressing, you now can plan more strategically to meet
their needs. Unit planning is the most effective way to do this as it gives a full scope of what your students need to know to move up to the next level.
Using the literacy scope and sequence above and your data analysis, you can now create a unit plan. This unit plan can be used for lessons during guided
reading or intervention time. This guide to unit planning is based on the idea that you will be spending AT LEAST 15-20 minutes a day with this particular
student or group of struggling readers in a guided reading or intervention group. If you have groups of struggling readers or individual struggling readers
with unique needs, you will probably need to create multiple unit plans to ensure that you are differentiating for all students who need that extra support.

Step 1: Prepare your objectives – Take the list of skills that you have pulled from your data analysis and place them in order, scaffolded from the most
foundational to the more complex. Use the scope and sequence at the beginning of this document to help you determine the correct order to teach these
ideas.

Step 2: Determining weekly outcomes – You should plan to spend around 10 minutes at the beginning of each guided reading block and/or intervention
time with these struggling readers doing phonics and/or phonemic awareness activities that will build skill in areas you have pinpointed as deficits. The
next 10 or so minutes should be spent on the reading behaviors and skills the students are missing to move up to the next level. Each week you should
have a set of clear outcomes for these 2 areas. From your list pick 2 concrete skills (1 from phonics/phonemic awareness and 1 from reading behaviors)
and plug them into the unit plan below.

Step 3: Sketch out daily level activities – Using the following resources to guide you, sketch out at the daily level how you plan to ensure your students
will meet these weekly outcomes and how you plan to assess these outcomes.

A. Guided Reading planning and teaching:


a. Elementary Guided Reading Step-by-Step Planning Guide and Resources This resource includes all of the necessary documents to help you plan to
meet your students' needs in guided reading at the unit and lesson level. Included is a step-by-step guide on how to use your running records to plan to
support your students growth at each reading level.
http://beta.tfanet.org/wps/myportal/teachinglearningcenter/resourceexchange/resourceprofile?
resource_id=c6fdebb1c867415a:77b69688:12545ab387b:-fb6
b. Guided Reading 101: Planning Effective Guided Reading Sessions This resource is a guide to creating guided reading sessions that will push students to
the next reading level. It includes the steps necessary to plan an effective guided reading session in addition to resources that will help teachers plan for
different levels (in decoding and comprehension).
http://beta.tfanet.org/wps/myportal/teachinglearningcenter/resourceexchange/resourceprofile?
resource_id=4ffa44dae06433a9:19c75692:1251326711a:-614e
B. Phonics/Phonemic Awareness
a. Elementary Literacy Text (Teach For America Summer Institute) The text includes: information on the fundamental importance of literacy; an explanation
of what literacy is; an explanation of literacy standards and diagnostics; how to teach the fundamental building blocks of reading; methods for broadening
students’ fluency, through the bridging of decoding to comprehension; methods of comprehension instruction including vocabulary, word study, and
reading strategies; and methods of writing instructions. For information on phonological and phonemic awareness, see pages 50 through 78.
http://beta.tfanet.org/wps/myportal/teachinglearningcenter/resourceexchange/resourceprofile?resource_id=c6fdebb1c867415a:-
400b8f97:11ce1d8be34:4e2e
b. Essential Reading Strategies for the Struggling Reader This extensive document was created by the Texas Education Agency to assist teachers who are
working with struggling elementary readers. The 96 page book is divided into sections on fluency, phonological awareness, comprehension, and
decoding/spelling. In addition to differentiated teaching strategies for each category, this resource also includes an expanded appendix with helpful
spelling and word study lists. http://beta.tfanet.org/wps/myportal/teachinglearningcenter/resourceexchange/resourceprofile?
resource_id=c6fdebb1c867415a:-33d9640a:11f4c0209db:-534a
c. Phonological Awareness Activities Packet This packet has an immense amount of activities for your students to hone their perception of sounds. You can
search easily through this packet by the skill you want to target (eg. discriminating, remembering, or sequencing sounds).
http://www.tfanet.org/wps/myportal/teachinglearningcenter/resourceexchange/resourceprofile?resource_id=c6fdebb1c867415a:-
2aeaf9ea:1248851bc6f:322

Guided Reading/Intervention Unit Plan Example (below)


Below is an example of a guided reading or intervention unit plan. This was created for a student or group of students struggling with the jump from A to B.
In addition to the weekly outcomes sketched out, we have included more details for one week of instruction with this group. Comprehension would not be
left out of the lessons but is not the focus of the unit plan as phonics/phonemic awareness are truly what is holding this student back from moving to B. The
unit plan is based on a class schedule that allows you to work with this group 3 times a week. It is possible more weekly outcomes can be achieved with
longer sessions or more sessions in a week. The link to the resource mentioned in the unit plan can be found above.
Guided Reading/Intervention Unit Plan
Group_________________________ Level____________________________

Skills for Week MONDAY TUESDAY WEDNESDAY THURSDAY FRIDAY


Phonics/Phonemic
Awareness:

Reading Behaviors:

Phonics/Phonemic
Awareness:

Reading Behaviors:

Phonics/Phonemic
Awareness:

Reading Behaviors:

Phonics/Phonemic
Awareness:

Reading Behaviors:
Guided Reading/Intervention Unit Plan (example)

Group: Purple Level: A moving to B

Skills for Week MONDAY TUESDAY WEDNESDAY THURSDAY FRIDAY


Phonics/Phonemic 1. Brainstorm words 1. Isolation activity in 1. Initial Sounds Song Conference with this
that begin with /a/ Ideas and Activities Activity in Ideas and student/group of
Awareness: isolating initial and /i/. After for Developing Activities for students with
sounds and short vowel sounds a brainstorm, read Phonological Developing checklist to determine
and i through list and Awareness p.3-32. Phonological if they have met
Reading Behaviors: isolate initial sound. 2. Review vowels a Awareness p.3-34. outcomes for the
 Notices/interprets details in pictures 2. Guided reading and i. 2. Review vowels a week.
with focus on details 3. Guided reading and i.
in pictures. with focus on details 3. Guided reading
in pictures. with focus on details
in pictures.
Phonics/Phonemic
Awareness: isolating ending
sounds and short vowel sounds e
and o
Reading Behaviors:
 Remembers and uses language
patterns

Phonics/Phonemic
Awareness: isolating remedial
sounds and short vowel u

Reading Behaviors:
 Uses first letter cues to read known
and new words

Phonics/Phonemic
Awareness: segmenting CVC
words and short vowel review

Reading Behaviors:
 Rereads to confirm or figure out new
words
Help! My student isn’t making progress in reading!
This guide was developed for students reading on levels AA-Z, and as such not every assessment or cause will be relevant to your readers. Please use your best judgment
when deciding what is applicable to your students, and contact your PD if you have questions.

1. Start Here: What is thestudent’s current readinglevel? (Fountas andPinnell letter?)

(a) Pre-A (b) A-E (c) F-K (d) L-P (e) Q-Z
Consider the following: Consider the following: Consider the following: Consider the following: Consider the following:
* Does the student understand the * Does the student know the alphabet * Does the student know basic sound- * Does the student read rapidly enough * Does the student understand advanced
alphabetic principle? letter names and sounds? spelling patterns? for their level (fluency)? conventions of print?
 How can I check? p. 2  How can I check? p. 2  How can I check? p. 3  How can I check? p. 4  How can I check? p. 4
* Does the student know the alphabet * Does the student have phonemic * Does the student read rapidly enough * Does the student read expressively * Can the student use comprehension
letter names and sounds? awareness? for their level (fluency)? enough for their reading level (fluency?) strategies to understand what they’re
 How can I check? p. 2  How can I check? p. 2  How can I check? p. 4  How can I check? p. 4 reading?
* Does the student have phonemic * Does the student know basic sound- * Does the student read expressively * Does the student understand advanced  How can I check? p. 5
awareness? spelling patterns? (ch, th, ee etc.) enough for their reading level (fluency)? conventions of print? * Does the student understand the vocab-
 How can I check? p. 2  How can I check? p. 3  How can I check? p. 4  How can I check? p. 4 ulary in their books?
* Does the student understand * Is the student reading at home and * Does the student understand advanced * Can the student use comprehension  How can I check? p. 5
basic conventions of print? during independent reading time? conventions of print? strategies to understand what they’re * Does the student retain what they read as
 How can I check? p. 3  How can I check? p .3  How can I check? p. 4 reading? they progress throughout the book?
* Is the student showing effort to * Is the student reading just-right books? * Can the student use comprehension  How can I check? p. 5  How can I check? p. 5
learn the alphabet and the sounds?  How can I check? p. 3 strategies to understand what they’re * Does the student understand the vocab- * Can the student pull apart word parts?
 How can I check? p. 3 reading? ulary in their books? (suffixes, prefixes, roots)
 How can I check? p. 5  How can I check? p. 5  How can I check? p. 5
* Does the student understand the vocab- * Does the student retain what they read as * Is the student reading at home and
ulary in their books? they progress throughout the book? during independent reading time?
 How can I check? p. 5  How can I check? p. 5  How can I check? p. 3
* Does the student retain what they read as * Can the student pull apart word parts? * Is the student reading just-right books?
they progress throughout the book? (suffixes, prefixes)  How can I check? p. 3
 How can I check? p. 5  How can I check? p. 5 * Is the student reading wide genres?
* Can the student pull apart word parts? * Is the student reading at home and  How can I check? p. 6
(suffixes, prefixes) during independent reading time? * Does the student understand sophisticated
 How can I check? p. 5  How can I check? p. 3 literary devices?
* Is the student reading at home and * Is the student reading just-right books?  How can I check? p. 6
during independent reading time?  How can I check? p. 3
 How can I check? p. 3 * Is the student reading wide genres?
* Is the student reading just-right books?  How can I check? p. 6
 How can I check? p.3
2. Next look here: Go through the possible causes and eliminate them one by one.

How can I check?


Does the student understand the alphabetic principle?
The alphabetic principle is the understanding that letters represent sounds.
HOW TO CHECK: Look for the following signs of understanding the alphabetic principle:
• The student writes his or her own name or initials to refer to him or herself.
• The student labels pictures with letters or words and “reads” the labels consistently.
• The student recites stories or poems that he or she has memorized, while looking at the text.
IF THE STUDENT DOES NOT SHOW ANY OF THESE SIGNS GO TO PAGE 7 TO START REMEDIATING THE ALPHABETIC PRINCIPLE

Does the student know the alphabet letter names and sounds?
The alphabet letter names: M, B, L are “em, bee, el,” etc. The alphabet sounds: M, B, L are “mmm, bb, lll”
HOW TO CHECK: Obtain or make flashcards that have all the letters of the alphabet—one letter per flashcard. Make one set of upper case flashcards and another set of lower
case flashcards. First, tell the student that you want him or her to say the name of the letter when you show him/her the card. Do one or two letters as an example (then put them
back in the stack to make sure you test those letters). Go through the flashcards, making sure that you do not go in alphabetical order. Then do the same for the sounds of the
letters. Do both the uppercase and lowercase flashcards. Record the results.
ANOTHER WAY TO CHECK: Give the E-CLAS or the CORE phonics assessment (available at http://www.scholastic.com/dodea/Module_2/resources/dodea_m2_tr_core.pdf)
IF THE STUDENT STRUGGLES TO IDENTIFY ALL LETTER NAMES AND SOUNDS GO TO PAGE 7 TO START REMEDIATING

Does the student have phonemic awareness?


Phonemic awareness is the ability to manipulate the sounds in words, without looking at text. Components of phonemic awareness include the ability to: rhyme, identify the first
sound in a word, identify the last sound in a word, identify the vowel sound in a word, count words in a sentence, count syllables in a word, orally blend, and orally segment.
HOW TO CHECK: Ask the student to participate in a series of “games” with you. For each game, you will give an example or two and then you will ask the student to give
examples. Check the following skills in increasing order of difficulty: (1) counting words in a sentence; (2) counting syllables in a word; (3) rhyming; (4) first sound in a word;
(5) last sound in a word; (6) vowel sound in a word; (7) oral blending; (8) oral segmenting.
• Example of checking first sound in a word:
T: I’m going to give you a word, and I want you to say the first sound in the word. Ready? I’ll give you an example. The first word is “pick.” The first
sound is “pp.” [Give more examples if the student is not clear about the task]. Now you try. The word is “shark.” The first sound is…
Student: “Shh”
T: Great. The next word is “flap.” The first sound is. . .
Student: “Fff”
etc.
• Example of checking oral blending:
T: I’m going to give you the sounds in a word, and I want you to blend them together. [Give a few examples.] Ready? “kk…lll…aa…ppp”
Student: Clap.
• Example of checking oral segmenting:
T: I’m going to give you a word, and I want you to tell me the sounds. [Give a few examples.] Ready? “Soup.”
Student: sss…ooo…p

ANOTHER WAY TO CHECK: Give the beginning sections of the E-CLAS or visit this website: http://teams.lacoe.edu/DOCUMENTATION/classrooms/patti/k-
1/teacher/assessment/tools/tools.html
IF THE STUDENT STRUGGLES TO COMPLETE ANY OF THESE TASKS, GO TO PAGE 7 TO START REMEDIATING.
2. Continued. . .Next look here: Go through the possible causes and eliminate them one by one.

Does the student understand basic conventions of print?


Conventions of print include knowing how to hold a book right-side up, print progresses from left to right, the purpose of a title, the role of the author, words are separated by
spaces, basic punctuation (periods, question marks, exclamation points), etc.
HOW TO CHECK: Look for the following signs of knowing the conventions of print:
• The student holds a book properly and turns pages correctly
• If you hold a book, the student correctly points out where you should begin reading, and where the title and author can be found.
• When you point out parts of print, the student can identify them. (If you point to a period, the student identifies it as “period” or “it tells me to stop” or “the end of a
sentence.”)
• The student can point to words as you read them slowly from a level A or level B book.
IF A STUDENT DOES NOT CORRECTLY IDENTIFY THE CONVENTIONS OF PRINT, GO TO PAGE 7 TO START REMEDIATING.

Is the student showing effort to learn the alphabet and the sounds?
A student who is invested should show effort to learn the alphabet and the sounds.
HOW TO CHECK: Observational.
IF A STUDENT IF NOT DEMONSTRATING EFFORT, GO TO PAGE 8 TO FIND IDEAS FOR INVESTING BEGINNING READERS.

Does the student understand basic sound-spelling patterns? (ch, th, ee, etc.)
Basic sound-spelling patterns include: the “i_e” pattern in pike, time, line; the “ai” pattern in wait, pain, nail; the “ch” digraph in much, cheese, child; the “ng” digraph in sing,
long; etc.
HOW TO CHECK: Use a spelling inventory such as the McGuffy Spelling Inventory or the Words Their Way Spelling Inventory (both available at the TFA Office). Once the
student takes the spelling inventory, catalogue which sounds they spell correctly and which sounds they do not.
ANOTHER WAY TO CHECK: Use the E-CLAS or the CORE Phonics Survey (available at http://www.scholastic.com/dodea/Module_2/resources/dodea_m2_tr_core.pdf)
YET ANOTHER WAY TO CHECK: Look at the student’s running record and note if he or she missed any spelling patterns consistently.
IF THE STUDENT DOES POORLY WITH ANY OF THESE TASKS, GO TO PAGE 8 TO FIND IDEAS FOR REMEDIATING SOUND-SPELLING PATTERNS.

Is the student reading at home and during independent reading time?


Independent reading is time that the student spends reading by themselves.
HOW TO CHECK: For-class reading, just watch the student and examine the student’s book log or book reports. For at-home reading, examine the student’s book log or book
reports, or ask the student’s family.
IF THE STUDENT IS NOT READING, GO TO PAGE 8 FOR READING INVESTMENT IDEAS.

Is the student reading just-right books?


Reading books that are not appropriate for the student’s reading level, especially books that are too high, can slow or halt a student’s reading growth.
HOW TO CHECK: Ensure the following:
• The student’s reading level has been diagnosed accurately.
• The student is selecting books on his or her independent reading level.
• If the student is using the “5-finger rule,” the student is using it accurately and is adjusting it for his reading level. For example, for a first-grade-level reader, the “5
finger rule” should really be the “1 finger rule,” because many first-grade books have only a few words on each page.
IF THE STUDENT IS NOT READING JUST-RIGHT BOOKS, REMEDIATE THE CAUSE. IF YOU ARE HAVING DIFFICULTY GETTING THE STUDENT TO READ
ON HIS OR HER LEVEL, SEE PAGE 8 FOR INVESTMENT IDEAS.
2. Continued. . .Next look here: Go through the possible causes and eliminate them one by one.

Does the student read rapidly enough for his or her reading level (fluency)?
Reading sufficiently quickly is a pre-requisite for good reading comprehension.
HOW TO CHECK: Give the student a text on his or her independent reading level. Set a timer for one minute. Ask the student to read as quickly as possible without making
any mistakes. When the timer goes off, count the total number of words the student read in the passage. Then, subtract the number of words the student skipped or read incorrectly. The
result is the student’s WPM (words per minute). Then, see if the student is reading at an appropriate fluency for his or her reading level. If the student has low fluency for his or her reading
level, it may be preventing the student from advancing into higher reading levels.

Total words – words read incorrectly = Words per minute


Number of minutes

Fountas Approxim
and Pinnell ate WPM
Level Range
E, F, G 20-40
H, I 40-70
J, K 70-90
L, M, N 90-110
O, P 110-130
Q, R 120-135
S, T 130-150
U, V, W 130-160

IF THE STUDENT IS READING TOO SLOWLY FOR HIS OR HER READING LEVEL, SEE PAGE 8 FOR IDEAS ON REMEDIATION.

Does the student read expressively enough for his or her reading level (fluency)?
Reading with good expression is important for supporting a student’s comprehension.
HOW TO CHECK: Do a running record with the student. Pay particular attention to the student’s pauses, hesitations, repetitions, and attention to punctuation (periods, commas,
question marks, exclamation marks). If there is dialogue, note if he or she uses different voices for different speakers, or tries to differentiate the dialogue from the text.
IF THE STUDENT DOES NOT READ EXPRESSIVELY, SEE PAGE 9 FOR IDEAS ON REMEDIATION.
2. Continued. . .Next look here: Go through the possible causes and eliminate them one by one.

Can the student use comprehension strategies to understand what they’re reading?
Comprehension strategies include: main idea, fact and opinion, context clues, using nonfiction text features, asking and answering questions, drawing on background knowledge,
retelling, self-monitoring, predicting, inferring, making connections (text-to-text, text-to-self, text-to-world), synthesizing, visualizing, sequencing, cause and effect, and compare
and contrast.
HOW TO CHECK: Ask the student to read a text on their reading level aloud or to themselves. Then, ask them questions that require them to use a wide variety of
comprehension strategies. If the student is reading at a low reading level (level H or below), you might choose to read a more advanced text aloud to the student and then ask him
or her questions.
IF THE STUDENT STRUGGLES WITH COMPREHENSION STRATEGIES, GO TO PAGE 9 FOR IDEAS ON REMEDIATION.

Does the student understand the vocabulary in their books?


A student must understand the basic meanings of the vast majority of the words in the book to pull comprehension from the book.
HOW TO CHECK: Ask the student to read a text on their reading level out loud or to themselves. Select a few challenging words that are critical to the text’s meaning and ask
the student to define them or explain what the sentence means. For an on-level text, no more than 2-3% of the total words should have unknown meanings.
ANOTHER WAY TO CHECK: Give th student the vocabulary portion of the ECLAS if they are in grades K-3.
IF THE STUDENT STRUGGLED WITH VOABULARY, GO TO PAGE 9 FOR IDEAS ON REMEDIATION.

Can the student pull apart word parts?


A student who can pull apart word parts can more easily pronounce new words and make educated guesses about their meanings. For example, a student who knows the suffix
-itis can figure out that scleritis is a disease by knowing the meaning of the –it is suffix; they understand that underappreciate means “less than appreciate.”
HOW TO CHECK: Show the student a written word with prefixes, suffixes, or roots that are appropriate for the student’s grade level. (To help you determine grade-level-
appropriateness, look at pages 79-81 of the Elementary Literacy Text). You can also find a list of prefixes, suffixes, and roots at http://www.betterendings.org/homeschool/Words/Root
%20Words.htm .
• Example of checking a student’s ability to pull apart word parts, for a fifth-grade reading level:
T: I’m going to give you a word and I want you to read the word. Then you should find the word parts in the word. Then I want you to tell me the meaning,
or a good guess about the meaning. Ready? I’ll give you an example. The first word is [show the word hydrology]. I can pronounce it “hydrology.” The
word parts I see are hydro- and –ology. I’m going to make a good guess that this word is about water, because I know that hydro- means water. I think it
might be about the study of water, because I know –logy means “study” or “science,” like biology or geology. Are you ready? Here’s the word. Can you read
it for me? [Shows neurosis].
Student: Neurosis.
T: Do you see any word parts? What do you think the word means?
Student: Well, I see neuro- which reminds me of neurosurgeon and neuron, so I think that part is about the brain.
• Example for a student on a third-grade reading level:
T: I’m going to give you a word and I want you to read the word. Then you should find the word parts in the word. Then I want you to tell me the meaning,
or a good guess about the meaning. Ready? I’ll give you an example. The first word is [show the word re-invent]. I can pronounce it “re-invent.” The word
parts I see are re- and –invent. I know that re- means “again,” and I know what invent means—to make something. So I think re-invent means to make
something again. Are you ready?
Here’s the word. Can you read it for me? [Shows colorless].
Student: Colorless.
T: Do you see any word parts? What do you think the word means?
Student: Well, I see color and I know that word, and I see –less, which means “without” or “none.” So I think colorless means “no color.”
IF THE STUDENT CANNOT PULL APART WORD PARTS, GO TO PAGE 10 FOR IDEAS ON REMEDIATION.
How can I remediate?
Does the student understand the alphabetic principle?
The alphabetic principle is the understanding that letters represent sounds.
HOW TO REMEDIATE:
• Transcribe short sentences or stories that the student dictates, showing the student the text as you write, and narrating what you’re writing. Then read the text back
to the student, pointing to the words as you read.
• Teach the student to label pictures, with your guidance.
• Begin teaching alphabet letter names and sounds, using flashcards or an alphabet song.

Does the student know the alphabet letter names and sounds?
The alphabet letter names: M, B, L are “em, bee, el,” etc. The alphabet sounds: M, B, L are “mmm, bb, lll”
HOW TO REMEDIATE:
• Use alphabet letter flashcards to teach students to memorize the letter names and sounds.
• Use poems and chants to help students remember the sounds associated with each letter.
• Use kinesthetic motions to help students remember the sounds associated with each letter (for example, wiggling your arm like a snake for “S”).
• Make a letter-picture chart that lists each letter and pictures of things that begin with that letter.
• Teach your lessons in the IBRDS sequence: Introduce the letter-sound correspondence, blend words with the letter-sound correspondence, read sentences with the
correspondence and other words the students can decode, decodable text reading (if you don’t have decodable text, read more sentences), spelling.
• For more ideas: pp. 62-68 in the Elem Literacy Text

Does the student have phonemic awareness?


Phonemic awareness is the ability to manipulate the sounds in words, without looking at text. Components of phonemic awareness include the ability to: rhyme, identify the first
sound in a word, identify the last sound in a word, identify the vowel sound in a word, count words in a sentence, count syllables in a word, orally blend, and orally segment.
HOW TO REMEDIATE: Develop skills in increasing order of difficulty: (1) counting words in a sentence; (2) counting syllables in a word; (3) rhyming; (4) first sound in a
word; (5) last sound in a word; (6) vowel sound in a word; (7) oral blending; (8) oral segmenting.
• Before each phonics lesson, spend 5-10 minutes building phonemic awareness of the sounds you will focus on. (For example, if you plan to focus on the “ch”
sound, your 5 minutes of phonemic awareness will focus on the “ch” sound.
• Ask your students to segment, blend, and rhyme words with the focus sound.
• Try reading your students predictable rhyming poetry, stopping just before the end of the line for them to call out the missing rhyme.
• Have your students sort objects or pictures of objects. They can sort by the first sound, the last sound, the number of syllables, etc. (These kinds of pictures are
available on the Word Their Way CD.)
• For more ideas: pp. 55-62 in the Elem Literacy Text; A Classroom Curriculum: Phonemic Awareness in Young Children by Marilyn Jager Adams; Words Their
Way by Donald Bear, et. al.

Does the student understand basic conventions of print?


Conventions of print include knowing how to hold a book right-side up, print progresses from left to right, the purpose of a title, the role of the author, words are separated by
spaces, basic punctuation (periods, question marks, exclamation points), etc.
HOW TO REMEDIATE:
• Do lots of shared reading, especially shared reading with a common, large text. Point out the conventions of print as you go.
• For a list of conventions of print, see p. 55 in the Elem Literacy Text.
3. Continued. . . Finally, look here: Now that I’ve identified the problem, what should I do about it?
Is the student showing effort to learn the alphabet and the sounds?
A student who is invested should show effort to learn the alphabet and the sounds.
HOW TO REMEDIATE:
• Use lots of colorful pictures and hands-on activities (sorting, categorizing)
• Many students like to track how many letters and sounds they’ve learned, and how many they still need to learn. They can use a checklist, a sticker chart, etc.

Does the student understand basic sound-spelling patterns? (ch, th, ee, etc.)
Basic sound-spelling patterns include: the “i_e” pattern in pike, time, line; the “ai” pattern in wait, pain, nail; the “ch” digraph in much, cheese, child; the “ng” digraph in sing,
long; etc.
HOW TO REMEDIATE:
• Use sound-spelling pattern flashcards to help students memorize patterns
• Associate sound-spelling patterns with a kinesthetic motion or a picture.
• Teach your lessons in the IBRDS sequence: Introduce the sound-spelling pattern, blend words with the sound-spelling pattern, read sentences with the pattern and
other words the students can decode, read decodable text with the pattern (if you don’t have decodable text, read more sentences), spell words with the pattern.
• For more ideas: pp. 66-70 in Elem Literacy Text; Words Their Way by Donald Bear, et. al.; Making Words by Patricia Cunningham

Is the student reading at home and during independent reading time?


Independent reading is time that the student spends reading by themselves.
READING INVESTMENT IDEAS:
• Ensure your students have a book report or reading log that they fill out that monitors their daily reading at school and at home. The form needs to monitor if they
understand the book, not just if they’ve read it.
• You need a way to track when the students finish books (maybe you chart it on the wall, maybe they get a prize, but there should be a way). They should only get
credit for books they finish that are (1) on their just-right reading level; and (2) well-understood—and only a good grade on a book form/reading log entry gets them
credit.
• Your students need to know their current reading levels, where they started, and where they should be by the end of the year. They need to be able to track how
they’re doing in their progress toward the goal.
• Your students need to get their reading levels tested regularly (every 2-8 weeks, depending on their reading level), and you can use the prospect of getting tested as a
motivational tool. (Perhaps they have to read a certain number of books on their just-right level to earn their way to a running record).

Is the student reading just-right books?


Reading books that are not appropriate for the student’s reading level, especially books that are too high, can slow or halt a student’s reading growth.
SEE THE READING INVESTMENT IDEAS ABOVE.

Does the student read rapidly enough for his or her reading level (fluency)?
Reading sufficiently quickly is a pre-requisite for good reading comprehension.
HOW TO REMEDIATE:
• Model good oral reading frequently through read-alouds and shared reading.
• Teach your students phrasing—consider using phrased text lessons (pp. 87-88 of Elem Literacy Text).
• Repeated readings: this can be done using choral reading (everyone chants the same text at the same time), echo reading (the teacher reads the sentence, then the
students read the same sentence), reader’s theater (the students rehearse their lines over and over again), books on tape (students listen repeatedly to the same book-
on-tape while tracking in the text), and stopwatch timing (students practice a passage repeatedly and time with a stopwatch to track improvement).
• For more ideas, see pp. 84-92 in the Elem Literacy Text; Great Leaps program

3. Continued. . . Finally, look here: Now that I’ve identified the problem, what should I do about it?
Does the student read expressively enough for his or her reading level (fluency)?
Reading with good expression is important for supporting a student’s comprehension.
HOW TO REMEDIATE:
• Model good oral reading frequently through read-alouds and shared reading.
• Teach your students phrasing—consider using phrased text lessons (pp. 87-88 of Elem Literacy Text).
• Repeated readings: this can be done using choral reading (everyone chants the same text at the same time), echo reading (the teacher reads the sentence, then the
students read the same sentence), reader’s theater (the students rehearse their lines over and over again), and books on tape (students listen repeatedly while tracking
in the text).
• Teach explicit lessons on using punctuation when reading. (Some teachers have their students tap the table each time they read a period.)
• A student can read a passage into a tape recorder, and you can then play the tape back so that they can monitor their own expressiveness.
• For more ideas, see pp. 84-92 in the Elem Literacy Text; Great Leaps program

Can the student use comprehension strategies to understand what they’re reading?
Comprehension strategies include: main idea, fact and opinion, context clues, using nonfiction text features, asking and answering questions, drawing on background knowledge,
retelling, self-monitoring, predicting, inferring, making connections (text-to-text, text-to-self, text-to-world), synthesizing, visualizing, sequencing, cause and effect, and compare
and contrast.
HOW TO REMEDIATE:
• Teach comprehension strategy lessons, using a strategy of the week, or a strategy of the month.
• Be sure that the books you use to teach comprehension strategies are well-suited to those strategies.
• Focus on comprehension strategies during guided reading.
• Teach your students to self-monitor their comprehension using reading logs, post-its, or graphic organizers.
• For more ideas, see pp. 116-131 of Elem Literacy Text; Strategies That Work by Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis; Mosaic of Thought by Zimmerman and
Keene.

Does the student understand the vocabulary in their books?


A student must understand the basic meanings of the vast majority of the words in the book to pull comprehension from the book.
HOW TO REMEDIATE:
• Use on-grade-level vocabulary in your own oral language with your students.
• Teach specific words from your read-alouds or shared reading. You read-alouds or shared readings should be slightly above the independent reading level of the
majority of your class. Students can generally learn 2-3 new words per day, if you give them clear definitions and opportunities to observe and use the words in a
variety of contexts. Select “tier 2” words—words that are advanced, but that students will likely encounter in many contexts.
• Pre-teach challenging, important words before reading a challenging text that contains them
• Teach students to use a dictionary and to find and pull apart word parts to infer a word’s meaning.
• For more ideas, see pp. 94-115 of Elem Literacy Text; Bringing Words to Life: Robust Vocabulary Instruction by Isabel Beck.

3. Continued. . . Finally, look here: Now that I’ve identified the problem, what should I do about it?

Does the student retain what they read as they progress throughout the book?
When students first begin to read longer books with chapters, they often find it difficult to synthesize and recall events over a long text.
HOW TO REMEDIATE:
• Teach students tools for retaining and sort the information they accumulate while reading a book. For example, teach them to keep a running list of characters, with
notes about each character.
• Teach students to use a post-it on each page, every few pages, or each chapter to re-tell or summarize what they’ve read so far.
• Teach students take meaningful notes as they read and to go back through their notes when they’re confused.
Can the student pull apart word parts?
A student who can pull apart word parts can more easily pronounce new words and make educated guesses about their meanings. For example, a student who knows the suffix
-itis can figure out that scleritis is a disease by knowing the meaning of the –it is suffix; they understand that underappreciate means “less than appreciate.”
HOW TO REMEDIATE:
• Explicitly teach the student prefixes, suffixes, or roots that are appropriate for the student’s grade level. (To help you determine grade-level-appropriateness, look at
pages 79-81 of the Elementary Literacy Text). You can also find a list of prefixes, suffixes, and roots at http://www.betterendings.org/homeschool/Words/Root
%20Words.htm .
• Teach word parts using the IBR sequence: Introduce the word part, blend words with the word part, and read sentences.
• Select word parts that you are encountering in grade-level reading.
• For more ideas, see pp. 70-71 of the Elem Literacy Text; Words Their Way by Donald Bear, et. al.

Is the student reading wide genres?


When student reach high reading levels, they sometimes become better at reading some genres than others. For example, they may understand fiction at a level R, but nonfiction at
a level P.
HOW TO REMEDIATE:
• Introduce the student to a variety of literary genres, including: short stories, novels, memoirs, biographies, autobiographies, historical fiction, plays, poetry (in a
variety of forms), functional texts (recipes, bus schedules, instructions), profiles, magazine articles, newspapers, nonfiction books, encyclopedias, thesauri, and
dictionaries.
• Explicitly teach the characteristics of different literary genres.
• Provide encouragement and, if necessary, incentives for your students to read in a variety of genres.

Does the student understand sophisticated literary devices?


Students at the high reading levels need to be able to understand sophisticated literary devices. For example, they need to be able to identify literary symbols, to identify an
author’s worldview, to detect an unreliable or biased narrator, and to analyze the narrator’s effect on a text.
HOW TO REMEDIATE:
• Discuss sophisticated literary devices in your whole-class read-alouds or shared reading.
• Note and study literary devices in guided reading groups.