I was recently talking with a mother of twins who admitted that her biggest struggle was not having enough one-on-one time with each twin. I thought of classroom teachers and how they struggle with the same thing. Wouldn’t you love to spend more individual time with each of your students? Unfortunately, it’s not always possible.

And yet, Read Naturally’s placement procedure requires just that. The placement assessment asks you to sit with one student at a time, sometimes for several minutes. What if one to one placementyou just don’t have time?

In this case, our Director of Curriculum, Karen McKenna recommends the following:

“Assign each student an appropriate Read Naturally level to work in as you teach the steps of the Read Naturally Strategy. Use what you know about each student to inform these initial assignments. Then, as the students begin to work independently, move around the room and conduct the individual placement test for each student. Adjust the student’s level, if needed, based on the placement results.”

This method, Karen says, can kill two birds with one stone. You’re getting that essential one-on-one time with each student; meanwhile, the rest of the class is becoming familiar with the Read Naturally Strategy and beginning to build fluency.

While it’s wonderful to make the placement process more efficient for the teacher, you must be careful not to take shortcuts. Shortcuts, Karen cautions, may result in inaccurate placement and cost more time in the end.

For example, imagine starting the placement test at 3.0 for all your sixth-grade students. This might appear to save time—you’d have the same test ready to go for each student. However, some of your more advanced readers would surprise you by placing into level 3.5. This can happen because a fluency score of 80, for example, falls into the appropriate placement range for levels 3.5, 4.0, 4.5, and 5.0. If, in the interest of saving time, you didn’t continue testing, your more advanced readers would be placed in the wrong level.

Instead, Karen says:

“Use your knowledge of each student to inform where the testing should begin. Start as close as possible to where you think each student will be challenged but not frustrated. For example, if you have a sixth grader whom you suspect reads close to grade level, start testing him at level 5.0—not 3.0.”

Evaluating each student to determine an approximate reading level before placement will save time in the end. The closer your estimate is to the student’s reading level, the fewer stories the student will read during the placement process and the more likely you are to place him in the appropriate level.

If you have additional ideas to share about how to place students individually while simultaneously addressing the needs of a larger group, we’d love to hear them! Comment on this post, or send us an email at info@readnaturally.com.