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​In my last post, I shared the many assessment mistakes I’ve made over the years. Blunders aside, I actually love spring assessments for one simple reason. The spring assessment gives me an opportunity to show my students the big picture and remind them that the best reward of all is taking ownership of their own progress. This is usually just a short conversation, but it’s one of the most important talks I will have with them.

​Is it really assessment season again? It feels like yesterday that I opened the lab at this new school, met my students, and screened them for reading difficulties using benchmark assessment. The winter assessment window seemed to arrive just a short time after that. And now it’s springtime already, and spring assessment window is almost here. It is time to prepare to assess the students yet again.

In order to know whether a student has made enough progress to exit a Read Naturally program, you need to assess the student with grade-level material. It is important to celebrate your student’s daily growth from cold to hot timings in a story, the student’s goal being increased and the student moving up a level. It is also exciting to see a student’s cold-timing scores increase from story to story. These are all indications that the student’s reading skills are improving and that he or she is making progress in the program. But it is essential to keep the long-term goal in mind.

As a mother of four young children who are drawn to the iPad like moths to a flame, it’s a little hard for me to write a blog post about the upside of screen time. Mostly I see the iPad as a frequent source of conflict in my house. My kids want to play games or watch shows on it, and I want them to do things I’ve deemed more meaningful—read books, play outside, build with Legos, or, dare I even dream it, pick up their room. Indeed, plenty of research confirms the negative consequences of too much screen time, which is why so many parents find themselves fighting this battle with their children day after day.

Back when Read Naturally founder Candyce Ihnot would present at full-day seminars, she would often start by telling a story about her youngest child, Tommy. One day, Tommy came home from elementary school and angrily declared, “I hate school.” Tommy was the son of two schoolteachers—his declaration was basically blasphemous! When Candyce asked him to explain why he hated school, his lip started to quiver. He told his mom about independent reading time. “She doesn’t even know,” he said of his teacher, “I can’t read.”

Read Naturally founder Candyce Ihnot likes to tell the story of a little boy who went from struggling to fluent using the Read Naturally program. When Candyce asked the boy how he got to be such a good reader, he said with a smirk, “It was nothing you did.” Rather than be offended by his brutal honesty, Candyce was delighted. The boy was taking due credit for his own accomplishment. He had come to understand that he’d possessed the tools for success all along. Having found the confidence and fortitude to master a huge challenge, he could now draw on those qualities again and again—without his teacher’s help.

Our teacher’s manuals are packed full of useful information about how to implement our programs effectively. They’re extraordinarily well researched and include hundreds of helpful suggestions. Have you read them recently? Cover to cover?

Don’t worry if the answer is no. We know how busy teachers are, and we want to make it easy on you to implement our programs with fidelity. That’s why we’ve created Fidelity Checklists. Download as many as you’d like—they’re free on our website!

Welcome to the second half of the school year! Are you ready to see your Read Naturally students crush their goals and accelerate their progress? As you know, they will improve most rapidly when they’re working in the sweet spot of challenging but not frustrating material. Thanks to the detailed graphs and reports in Read Naturally Live, finding this sweet spot is easier than ever. The Students-at-a-Glance report is a particularly useful tool for quickly identifying students who are not working with optimal levels or goals, or students who need extra support in key areas.

Pop quiz! What do you do when you’re staring down a pile of winter assessment data?

Phonics skills are foundational to reading fluently and with comprehension. It's essential for reading teachers to determine which students need phonics support and what that support should look like. Read Naturally is here to support your students’ phonics needs every step of the way—from assessment, to intervention, to ongoing skill maintenance.

Make Your Student a STAR!

Read Naturally Star of the Month​Share your student’s success story—nominate him or her for our Star of the Month award. Win a Barnes & Noble gift card for the student and a Read Naturally gift certificate for your class!

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