So you’ve completed your beginning or middle of the year literacy screening, and the results are clear – some of your students are below grade level. But what should you do next? After all, time is limited and it’s important to quickly help kids build their skills and confidence as readers! The good news is that there are tools to simplify the task of figuring out which skills to focus on during small groups and interventions. You can rest assured that no time will be wasted in getting your students the exact help they need in reading this year!
How to Determine Specific Skills to Teach
Screening assessments are used to identify students at risk of not meeting grade-level learning goals. But, often the information teachers receive doesn’t shed a specific light on why students are behind. So the essential question becomes, what else do I need to know about my “at-risk” students, to be able to meet them where they’re at?
Generally, one of the following three areas is the cause of a student not meeting reading expectations.
Are students struggling with:
- …decoding words?
- …reading text fluently?
- …comprehending what was read?
So, which of these struggles should you focus on during intervention lessons? Our recommendation is to work your way down the above list using both in-class observations and further tools to uncover those specific gaps.
When Students Are Struggling with Decoding Words
If you have observed a student struggling to read words, there are two things to check:
- Does the student have a lack of phonological awareness (the ability to hear and manipulate sounds in words)?
- Does the student have a lack of phonics knowledge (the ability to associate sounds with letters)?
Use a phonemic awareness or phonics survey to determine which phonemic awareness and/or phonics skills students are missing.
When Students Are Struggling with Reading Text Fluently
If you have students who have a sufficient grasp of phonics but continue to make lots of mistakes, read slowly, or without appropriate expression and phrasing, fluency is the area to explore. A simple fluency assessment will give you SO much great information about how to help! Read this post for directions on how to conduct a quick and easy fluency assessment.
A lack of automatic sight word knowledge can also affect reading fluency. Track known sight words using a high-frequency word list to determine if this is affecting your students’ struggles with fluency.
Also, if you observe that your students can decode words with phonics skills but are still slow, you can use the phonics word and sentence lists in the kit to monitor fluency progress and practice! It’s like fluency practice but with that specific phonics skill to get it really automatic.
When Students Are Struggling With Comprehending
The most common way to pinpoint comprehension struggles is to ask a student to read a short text on his/her independent level. Then, ask both factual and inferential questions about what was read. You can also get a lot of information about comprehension by simply asking kids to retell what they just read.
This is often done following a fluency assessment. Our differentiated reading passages work well for both fluency and comprehension observations. Word count and comprehension questions are embedded into each passage, which is a huge timesaver! Fiction and nonfiction passages are included in the Small Group and Intervention Literacy Kit.
If you want to get super targeted with the exact skills your students are mastering, the comprehension skills checklist will help you keep track!
Another area that could be affecting a student’s comprehension is language and vocabulary. This is especially important for English Language Learners or language impoverished kids. There’s a 5-step vocabulary routine in the kit to use for a quick assessment and used for targeted language instruction.
What About Writing?
Reading and writing go hand-in-hand, so chances are, if a student is struggling with reading they are likely struggling with writing as well.
There are a few questions you can ask yourself to help identify the specific writing issue(s).
Is the primary struggle with…
- …basic skills like handwriting, spelling, and/or sentence formation?
- …planning and organizing writing?
- …evaluating and revising writing?
- …stamina and/or being able to stay focused and on topic?
Our writing checklist from the Small Group and Intervention Literacy Kit can guide you with what to look for and also help you track mastered skills.
Now that you have a strong sense of the skills you need to address with your students, you’re ready to plan your intervention lessons! Head to this post for guidance on what to do during interventions.
Small Group and Intervention Literacy Kit
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Small Group & Intervention Literacy Kit