Let’s (Tweet) Chat about IRA: Fiction and Nonfiction

Posted by on Dec 2, 2013 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Let’s (Tweet) Chat about IRA: Fiction and Nonfiction

Let’s (Tweet) Chat about IRA: Fiction and Nonfiction

On December 12th at 8PM EST I’ll be hosting a tweet chat about independent reading, text complexity, differentiated instruction, comprehension, assessment of students’ reading of whole books…in essence, I’ll be talking about my Independent Reading Assessment  for fiction and nonfiction.

If you’d like to join in, you can follow along using the hashtag #ScholasticExperts. I hope you lurk, RT, and/or join in the conversation.

If you don’t currently have the Independent Reading Assessment for your school, but you’d like to give it a try, you can download the forms you’ll need  here. At that same link you’ll also find rubrics and other materials to learn more about it. When you’re ready to give it a try, here are a few tips:

  • Whether or not students get to choose what they read is an important factor in how well they comprehend a text. The IRA:Fiction kits include a choice of 26 authentic trade books ranging from F&P levels K-W. There are funny books like Time Warp Trio, character-driven books such as Amber Brown, award winners like Home of the Brave, and classics like Fourth Grade Rats. The IRA:Nonfiction kits include a choice of 28 authentic informational texts ranging from F&P levels J-W on a wide variety of topics – from sharks to slavery, inventors to the industrial revolution, forensic science to frogs. That said, to give you a sample I’ve included the forms for only two of the books – Because of Winn Dixie and Moon Power.
  • You’ll want to print out the Student Response Form and locate a copy of the books. If you have the sampler, they are included. If you don’t, hopefully there’s a copy of at least BWD somewhere in your school. You’ll need to mark the dozen pages where the questions appear with a sticky note to flag the student to stop and answer the questions when he or she gets to that page. (look at the student response form to see the page numbers where students will answer each question). The IRA kits come with sticky notes with the questions pre-printed, but in the pilot study I found children did fine even when the book is marked with a blank post-it. As you do this, just make sure you’re using a Scholastic edition or else the pagination might be off!
  • Overall, users of this resource tend to find that the assessment reveals the most when students read a couple of levels below wherever they place when reading a running record. This isn’t always the case, but often it seems kids can do well on a running record which asks them to read fluently and accurately and only scratches the surface when it looks at their comprehension. This assessment looks at how well kids understand whole chapter books, and requires that readers synthesize and accumulate text. So, when you offer the books to a reader, you might give Because of Winn Dixie, a text leveled at “R” to a student who has done well on a running record at S/T/U. Moon Power is leveled at “P” and that might be best for a child whose running record placed him or her at Q/R/S.
  • When you’ve found a student who’d like to take the assessment, tell the student that the assessment is to help you learn more about him/her as a reader – it’s not a “test” and there is nothing to “pass”. He or she should complete all answers independently.  Reading BWD or MP will replace his or her independent reading for as long as it takes to complete it. When the student comes upon a page with a sticky note, the student should peel off the sticky note, read to the bottom of the page, answer the question, replace the sticky note, and keep reading. There is a reading log with the fiction version to keep track of rate. Both fiction and nonfiction have a brief reflection at the end. That’s it! Nothing for the teacher to do until the student finishes the entire book.
  • Once the assessment is complete, use the rubrics here to evaluate the responses. Use the Comprehension Record and Planning Form here to determine a goal.
  • The fiction assessment looks at four strands: Plot & Setting (questions are marked on the SRF with an icon of a house and sun), Character (icon: profile), Vocabulary & Figurative Language (icon: book with magnifying glass), and Themes & Ideas (icon: lightbulb).
  • The nonfiction assessment looks at four strands as well: Main Idea (icon: spotlight), Key Details (icon: key), Vocabulary (icon: book and magnifying glass) and Text Features (icon: graph).
  • In addition to giving the assessment to a student, you might want to experience it for yourself! Notice how most of the questions require you to reach back far into the text, and/or to synthesize many pages. Answering the questions with the information right on the page usually means you’re not answering it completely enough.

Even if you don’t have a chance to try the assessment before Dec 12, we’ll still have plenty to talk about. I hope to see you online!