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For the first time in 25 years, Read Naturally founder Candyce Ihnot has moved her reading lab to a new school. In a series of blog posts, Candyce will share “stories from the lab,” in which she describes the successes, challenges, and surprises of operating Read Naturally Live in a new setting. She’ll sprinkle each post with bits of wisdom from decades of creating Read Naturally materials and using them with the beloved students she keeps at the center of her work.

In this post, Candyce describes the important elements that happen before starting Read Naturally Live with students: setting up the lab, selecting, and placing students.

Nothing says, “Welcome back from break!” like being faced with winter benchmark assessments. The recommended testing window is December 16 – February 6, so for many of you this task is in the near future. Our blog is full of great information about winter assessments.

I’m in book club with a group of friends. When the book club began, everyone was eager to read again. “I haven’t read an actual book in so long!” many of the members confessed. So we got together and had rich discussions about wonderful books… for a few months. Then we started discussing TED Talks. Now we mostly just get together and chat. I’ve done a little investigating and have come to realize that this trajectory is strikingly common among book clubs. Why don’t we read books anymore?

Are you looking for a way to quickly and accurately assess your students’ phonics abilities? Look no further than Read Naturally’s Quick Phonics Screener (QPS).

Teachers consistently report that QPS provides highly valuable information through an easy and efficient process. This criterion-referenced assessment is appropriate for kindergarteners, adult learners, and all students in between.

Welcome back from winter break! After a week of record-low temperatures here in Minnesota, we’re ready to think about spring. Specifically, we’re thinking about the Setting Spring Targets article we posted on the blog last winter. This article and its companion, Make the Most of Winter Benchmark Assessment Data, contain important information for you to consider as you gear up to conduct winter assessments. These articles instruct you on how to interpret your students’ growth, how to set appropriate goals for fluency improvement, and how to keep your students on track to meet these goals. Click on the links to check out the articles, and let us know how we can assist you in making the second half of this school year as successful as possible.

As you gear up for a productive winter season, let’s take a minute to think about spring. We recommend using benchmark assessment data to compare the average weekly improvement of your students to the norms in the Average Weekly Improvement (AWI) table. Additionally, this data can help you set spring targets for your students.

Comparing your students’ weekly fluency gains to national norms provides a useful snapshot of how they measure up to their peers, but it’s equally important to determine whether a student is making the right amount of growth compared to him/herself. Some school districts have predetermined spring targets for students. If your district does not have predetermined targets, you can set them yourself.

The ground is covered in snow here in Minnesota, which reminds us of many things. Bundle up, drive carefully, and don’t forget those winter benchmark assessments! The recommended testing window is December 19 – February 6. Once the testing is complete, how can you make the most of the data you collect?

When you have data from both fall and winter assessments, you can analyze the student’s week-by-week growth in fluency. This growth can be compared to the Average Weekly Improvement (AWI) table to give you a more complete picture of the student’s progress.

You've likely heard the old saying, “to everything there is a season.” This timeless wisdom applies to many aspects of life—including, yes, benchmark assessments.

After Read Naturally implemented Benchmark Assessor Live assessments, we realized a need to reinforce the importance of following testing date guidelines. To ensure the most accurate data, schools must conduct benchmark assessments during specific periods of the school year, and these tests should be a certain number of weeks apart.

Do you ever feel like you’re assessing all the time? You’re assessing the weather and the traffic. You’re assessing what to say and how to teach. You’re assessing all the information that comes across your desk and computer screen. You’re even assessing whether or not to continue reading this post, aren’t you?

Oh yeah, and you’re assessing your students. There are benchmark assessments, progress monitoring assessments, and Read Naturally-specific placement assessments. What’s the difference? Is anyone confused?

In the fall, there are so many things to think about and accomplish! From setting up your room to establishing classroom behavior (or at least identifying what isn't classroom behavior, which will undoubtedly be demonstrated for you in short order!), there seems to be no end to the to-do list! One of the most important items on the list for the beginning of a school year is assessment. We all do more assessing than we want to do, but it really is essential to high quality instruction. So, many people ask me, “how do I know which students need Read Naturally?” The answer, of course, is through assessment!

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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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