After reading Chapter 6 of Thompkins, Literacy in the 21st Century I was overwhelmed! There was so much information packed into this one chapter and I had to go back and skim it to remember all the strategies that were introduced. Usually I would have not found this Chapter interesting because I like to be upper elementary classrooms and was in one last semester but I just moved to a second grade classroom so I am seeing a large focus on fluency in the classroom. So this article was extremely interesting. I love how we keep on coming back to word walls. They can be used in so many different ways and used with many learning strategies. First, we saw them last semester in science with Dr. Norm where students place their wondering questions on them and now we are seeing them for fluency in literacy. I really like the idea of having an entire bulletin board dedicated to a word wall. I find that students are always asking how to spell words so having a word wall in my classroom would be extremely helpful. At the moment, students have word booklets. Each letter has its own page and there are high frequency words on the side and then blanks for the teacher and helpers to write other words that the students ask. But I find that students forget about these books and if there were a word wall it would be right in front of them and they would never forget. I feel with adding three new words in a week through books students start to become familiar with the word in context not just by itself. They are able to see the word in a children’s book and associate it to what is on the word wall. I think that word walls could be used in so many different ways. I know that when I was in 5th grade we had the word of the day and I think that a word wall would be perfect for this!
I have seen my teacher assess fluency in reading and writing in many different ways. For example, today she had individual students come to her desk and read her a book. She would right down the words that he or she got right/wrong while they were reading. If they got all the words right the next time she assessed them they would move to the next book and so on and so forth. Students also get tested in writing fluency. Each week all students have a spelling list that they all take on Friday but they also have individual spelling lists. They work with a special teacher twice a week with these words. The teacher writes five words on an index card and places it on their ring. They study these when they finish assignments early. Then when they go out with the teacher she gives them a mini-spelling test with those words. The students do not get a new list of five words until they have mastered the previous five words. These words are all high frequency words.
My teacher also showed me how she keeps records of her students. She has a binder for each subject and then number dividers since each student has a “magic number.” For each student she has an assessment from the beginning of the year that she is continually comparing to the assessments that she is doing now. In the end, she has an assessment from the beginning, middle, and end of the year. She keeps track of where they are in their assignments and what they are struggling with. All of the assessments that she has done with each student are placed in here so it is easy for her to find. It seems like a lot of work but it also seems really helpful. She knows exactly at what level her students are at because of it. Her school is required to have records for each student and then keep them for five years so that they can back up their analyses of students.