by Teresa Green

Based on STAR reading scores, approximately ⅓ of Walnut Grove students are reading two or more years below grade level and struggle with comprehension.  Walnut Grove needed a clear consistent plan of action to move students forward in reading.

I chose a first grade classroom to participate in a coaching cycle for guided reading.  The classroom has 18 students.  According to the August Early STAR screener, 5 students were at or above level, 3 students were on-watch, 1 student was on intervention, and 9 students were on urgent intervention.  Teacher College Benchmark Testing had not been implemented in the building. Once training for TCBs was completed and students assessed, 6 students fell into at or above levels and 12 fell below level.

To begin the coaching cycle/action research, I trained the teacher in Teacher College Benchmark assessments and Lucy Calkins Reader’s Workshop, focusing on guided reading components.  We assessed the students using Teacher College Benchmarks and grouped students according to their Fountas and Pinnell reading levels after analyzing strengths and weaknesses in MSV and comprehension.    We set up a guided reading structure in which the two below-level groups met daily, the two on-level groups met twice a week, and the above-level group met once a week. We took time to plan explicit instruction using Fountas and PInnell guide sheets and proper guided reading group format. The teacher was attentive to student reading behaviors and miscues with notation on anecdotal records and running records. Focus teaching points and skills came from the Continuum of Literacy Learning by Irene C.Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Students had a variety of books at his/her level in book bins to read during Individualized Daily Reading which occurred while guided reading groups met.   We met together to plan instruction and debrief lessons. I modeled the lessons for the first week with my teacher watching and taking notes.  The second week we co-taught the groups.  The third week, I coached-in on the lessons.  The final week I watched the lessons, coaching-in very rarely.    Students also took two books home each night on his/her reading level to read with an adult. We gave students reading log tasks, and the teacher met with each student briefly during breakfast and Benchmark Phonics word work time to discuss the nightly reading and reading log.

Our first round of data was collected from August 16th to October 6th.  In August, the students participated in the Early STAR Screener, establishing baselines with the Teacher College Benchmark.  From October 17th through December 9th, we took anecdotal notes on students in the guided reading groups.  Then, for a second time students participated in setting the Teacher College Benchmarks. We collected reading logs and reviewed daily with the students.  We administered the November Early STAR and STAR screeners.

We saw an increase in reading skills.  Eighteen out of eighteen students moved up at least one letter in Teacher College Benchmarks.  Four students moved from below level to on or above level. Students were successful in the STAR Early screener as well. There was an increase from 5 to 11 students at or above level, a decrease from 3 to 2 students on-watch, 1 to 0 students on intervention, and 9 to 6 students on urgent intervention.   Seven students moved into STAR Literacy from Early STAR.

In conclusion, explicit daily instruction in guided reading is instrumental at increasing student reading performance.  Time must be taken to plan guided reading groups using proper guided reading format with focus on individual student performance and needs.  Students consistently practicing reading at home are excelling their personal annual growth expectations.

As a new ISL in a school that didn’t have a clear focus and plan of action to implement Balanced Literacy, I was excited to provide professional development and model all parts of the framework and get going right away. With 25 total classrooms, it became clear immediately that it was an impossible task.

Focusing on one classroom, and going through the process of an action research plan. I was able to narrow down and zoom in on what would be most beneficial for the students and teacher in beginning to move students forward in advancing reading levels. After assessing the data and beginning with specific training through modeling, co-teaching, and coaching-in, my teacher was able to move 16 of 18 students up at least one reading level on Teacher College Benchmark running records and make positive gains in all domains of Early STAR literacy.

Having an action plan focused me on single goals at a time. I had to stop and think about the steps I would need to accomplish each of the goals and how best to help my teacher help her students.  It helped keep me on a basic timeframe of when I wanted to attain each goal.  The action plan was the organizational tool I needed to complete a coaching cycle successfully.