Let’s Get Together – Elementary End-of-Year Check-In

Last Saturday, Ruth Hanna and I facilitated the last of our Saturday Mid-Year Check-In courses. Over the course of 4 Saturdays, around 50 elementary school teachers gave their time to sit down and reflect on their practice and plan together for the second half of the school year. Across each course, we had rich conversations about what it means to help support a culture of reading and writing at the elementary level and how to better help all students chart pathways to reading and creating complex texts.

While we were pleased with the turnout each Saturday, we also appreciate the sacrifice of giving a Saturday to plan for our classrooms.

If I’ve been to your classroom or school over the last few months, you may recall me saying this is the “what” year of implementing our new elementary literacy resources and next year is the “how” year. Well, we wanted to make sure there’s space for thinking about the “how”.

We invite you to join us Tuesday, May 30 from 8 – 4 at Timberline pK-8 for and end-of-year check-in. Folks from across the district will be sitting down together to reflect on the close of our year and plan for how to improve our practice and learning next year.

If you can manage it, I encourage grade-level teams to come together and take a day to say, “What do we want to remember for next year?”

The course is open for registration right now through OPD – bit.ly/svvsdcheckin.

See you there!

Notes from the Classroom: Starting with ReadyGen


When navigating change, it can be incredibly helpful to look to those who have gone before us to find the way through. This first post of Notes from the Classroom comes from 3rd-grade pilot teacher Susan Tatum who shares what she’s doing in her classroom and how she’s using ReadyGen to support reading and writing for her students.

Thoughts on the New Year
Right now, at the beginning of the school year, you don’t need to worry about the small group element of your reading block. ReadyGen is whole-group-centered, so spending your time getting comfortable with that aspect of the program is essential in the beginning of the school year.  The teacher’s manuals have great routines in the resource tab at the back of the book.

Spend time getting your students comfortable with the close reading strategies and how to talk and write about their reading using academic language.  Make sure ALL students in your class have access to the anchor texts. Get familiar with the scaffolding strategies in your Scaffolded Strategies Handbook so you can help all students feel successful with the text.

In My Room
I’m spending time with my kids teaching them how to be deeper thinkers about their reading.
Rather than just the typical Think Pair Share, they are using sentence starters such as, “I agree with what you said about ___________.” and “I understand your point about __________, but I think _________.”  This is a routine found at the back of the Teacher’s Manual.

I want my kids to talk about their reading in more meaningful ways. I’m spending the majority of my Whole Group time working on these strategies. Eventually, we’ll take these strategies into a small group format where the students will be guiding their own discussions based on questions I have given them. Taking the time to firmly get these practices into place will pay off a great deal in the whole group and small group settings.

Have a Note from the Classroom you’d like to share on the Language Arts Blog? Send it to Chase_Zachary@svvsd.org.

Assessment Aided by ReadyGen

The Obligation to Write

The Gist:

ReadyGen combines reading and writing assessment. The teacher’s assessment guide outlines some options for administration of assessments. These assessments include the District’s traditional writing samples.

The Whole Story:

In the same way we know the more authentic opportunities students have to read and write, the better they are at reading and writing, we know the more information teachers have about their students’ learning, the better they are at implementing quality instructional practice.

This is why one of the exciting features of the new ReadyGen curricular resources is an increased opportunity for teachers to collect student writing samples. While the District has provided three writing sample prompts for teachers to use in the past, ReadyGen includes writing sample prompts as part of each unit assessment – including the beginning-of-the-year baseline assessment.

What’s more, these writing samples are connected to the reading assessments students are completing, providing context to the writing they are being asked to do. Rather than a random sample from an isolated prompt, students will draft writing that is connected with the vocabulary and comprehension tasks they’ve already worked through.

Another important shift to reduce scoring confusion is the inclusion of a single rubric across grade levels. Teachers can use the rubrics provided (aligned to PARCC expectations) to assess student writing in a common language. This can become a common language we use to help students think as writers, simplifying expectations and creating a shared culture for students and teachers and across grade levels.

Where to Start The best place for a school to start planning their reading and writing assessments is with the Baseline Assessments provided as part of ReadyGen. Teachers can find several administration options outlined in their grade-level Teacher’s Manual Assessment Book either in print or online. I’ve included relevant page numbers below.

Grade Page
K T19
1 T35
2 T35
3 T35
4 T37
5 T37

How to Help One of the best aspects of learning and teaching in a district the size of ours is the brain power available to help improve everyone’s instructional practice. As you and your colleagues consider writing instruction and samples throughout the year, please share your ideas with me so we can connect them to the Unit Plans where they align and share our practices.

Connection to iReady Since the iReady Diagnostic assesses grade specific reading domains and standards, teachers and school leaders can use data regarding foundational skills, vocabulary, and comprehension of both informational and literary text from iReady to make instructional decisions. Teachers and school leaders can determine which elements of the ReadyGen suite of assessments complement iReady data to support learning and teaching through progress monitoring, interventions, and enrichment.