As the State of Oregon and Sherwood School District adjusts to the new Common Core Standards, we here at Edy Ridge are making adjustments to our curriculum and assessment practices to better meet the needs of our students. One of the standards that the Kindergarten team here at Edy Ridge is focusing on this year is Reading Comprehension. We are meeting often as a team to discuss how to best pre-assess our students, work with them throughout the year, and to post-assess at the end to see their growth. Certain challenges arise as we work on this standard in Kindergarten, and that is why we are being so focused to create a system that will work at this level.
Why is Reading Comprehension now being assessed?
One of the many benefits of the new Common Core adoption is that instead of certain standards being assessed at certain grades, students are now working on ALL standards every year! While the expectations of what they should be able to master each year change, they are no longer waiting until the upper grades to start working on certain skills. We now work on things little-by-little and that should prevent some students from being bombarded and/or overwhelmed with trying to master something totally new in the upper grades.
How is Reading Comprehension being taught and assessed at school?
Teaching reading comprehension happens in many ways. During read aloud time, I often stop the story and ask children to discuss the characters, what is happening, why it might be happening, and what they think will happen next. I ask them to compare the story and the characters to other things they have read, things they know about, or what has happened in their own life. We read picture books, nonfiction books, poems, magazines, and sometimes listen to stories on CD. During small reading groups we also fill the time with opportunities to demonstrate what they are learning and remembering from what they read. Our school day is filled with connections from unit to unit, lesson to lesson, and day to day. Ideas build on ideas and experiences build on experiences!
Assessing reading comprehension is a little more tricky. In the upper grades, students are better able to read independently and answer questions on their own. Since most of our students are not able to read stories independently, and the ones they can read are very simple and lack the complex details needed to assess comprehension, we most often assess after reading to or with the child. This is rather time consuming because in order to get valid results, we must work one-on-one with the child to read the story, ask questions, and assess the level of understanding. As of right now we are doing ongoing assessments during reading groups as well as doing more summative assessments during the grading periods.
How can I help my student succeed?
Students this year are being sent home with reading comprehension passages as part of their weekly homework. Some are to be read by the parent and the child can answer the questions that follow, and some are to be read by the child if possible. The main benefit of including reading comprehension as part of homework, is that the student gets the one-on-one attention and guidance at home that we are limited in here at school. In addition to the homework, whenever you are reading to or with your child, stop periodically to ask questions such as:
Who are the main characters in this story?
Why do you think that character did that?
How do you think the character feels?
What do you think will happen next?
Did you learn anything new from this story?
Tell me what happened at the beginning/middle/end of the story...
Modeling comprehension as you read is also very helpful! As you read the newspaper or a magazine, think out loud in front of your child and show them that you also ask questions and remember details while you read!
More about the Reading Comprehension Standards...