Reading Recovery Reflections & Goal Setting

During this past school year, I had three main goals that I chose to work on to improve my effectiveness as a Reading Recovery teacher.

Update and use predictions of progress on a regular basis

Staying on top of updating my predictions of progress and using them regularly in planning and reflecting on lessons was paramount to accelerating my students. I noticed a difference in how well I knew my students’ strengths and needs. I found it easier to plan lessons and stay within each of my student’s cutting-edge. I noticed when progress was not being made which prompted me to take a closer look at my teaching, look at my student’s responses, and consult with a colleague.

Each student’s predictions of progress helped me to plan an attack on any confusions about print that they might have. On the backside of my predictions of progress, I kept a running list of all of the things that my students could do in reading and in writing. The predictions of progress along with this list were helpful to talk from during meetings with my students’ classroom teachers.

Increase the number of books read

I worked hard on increasing the volume of reading my students were doing throughout their lesson series.  I started by increasing the number of books read during roaming around the known.  Once students were able to consistently demonstrate an understanding of one to one match and left to right directionality I made fluent reading a priority (especially during familiar reads).  Later in lessons, as the new books increased in length, I worked to talk less and to carefully and thoughtfully choose stopping places.  By increasing the number of books read my students were given more opportunities to process text and to read books successfully – the payoff was great!  I noticed quicker acceleration and fluent reading in earlier levels.

Work toward a self-extending system

When focusing on making sure my students were developing a self- extending system I constantly reminded myself that it was not about whether the student could read all of the words in this particular book. I chose the new book through the lens of what this book could do to lift my student’s processing system.  I considered what tools the book would give my student that he/she could use in future books.  While going through this process I noticed that I had some bad habits to work on.  Silly things like choosing a book because I really liked it.  How could my student not read Haircuts for Bella and Rosie when they are able to read level 9’s (Bella and Rosie why do you have to have to be so cute?).

~New Goals~

While looking through my records and reflecting on my Reading Recovery work this school year, I identified some areas that I would like to learn more about to continue to strengthen my teaching.

Increase the complexity of writing

Reading Recovery teachers put a lot of thought into text complexity and what the various challenges are as they increase in text levels.  We can sometimes forget to put the same energy into working intentionally on increasing writing complexity.  The student’s writing should match the challenge of the texts they are reading.  If a child is reading level 10’s and they are only writing simple “I like…” sentences we need to support them in boosting the complexity of their writing.  We need to make sure that our students move on to writing several sentences with more complex language structures as they move through their lesson series.  When we increase the amount of writing we provide more opportunities to quickly write known words, learn new high utility words, learn more complex spelling patterns, and to create more interesting messages.   The ultimate impact of paying more attention to our students’ writing is that their reading will become even stronger.

Strengthen prompting  

In my eyes prompting is such a complex task that can always be improved. In Literacy Lessons Designed for Individuals 2nd edition Clay refers to the teacher’s prompts as “critical” (p. 140).  So much thought has to go into this “on the spot” decision making.  Reading Recovery teachers have to make sure they are using the right prompt for what kind of information they want the child to use and what type of strategic activity they are calling on the child to do (e.g., monitoring or searching).  We need to think about how supportive we want our prompting to be.  For instance, at that moment, do we want to prompt in a way that encourages our student to solve more independently or do we want to use a more supportive prompt to direct our student to what we want them to notice?  We want to use concise prompting because as Clay reminds us, “Too much teacher talk interferes with problem-solving” (p.140).

Improve notetaking on  lesson records

I noticed that sometimes I felt like I was missing information from my lesson records especially in the “strategic activity/processing” section.  Recently I watched a Reading Recovery video called Demonstrating and Prompting in the New Book presented by Leslie McBane.  She mentioned that if we don’t have notes from the reading of the new book that might mean we were too busy teaching, questioning, and prompting.  The new book should sound pretty fluent with a lot of continuous accurate reading and some problem-solving.  If we are having to do a lot of teaching we might need to rethink our book choice and/or our book introduction. I also found an article from The Journal of Reading Recovery called What Do Lesson Records Have to Do With Effective Reading Recovery Teaching? by Sharan Gibson.  The article looks at the ways in which lesson records support our ability to teach effectively.  Sounds just like what I need!

Teaching children to read is hard work!  Dedicating time to reflect on our teaching craft and choosing a couple of areas to focus on can help us to see our growth over time.  Have you thought about what you might want to explore or look deeper at for the next school?

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