Reading Comprehension Cues

Reading comprehension is thinking with text. I’ve chosen my words carefully, especially the preposition, with. Reading comprehension is not primarily thinking about text as an end product of reading. We need not get into a whole lot of argument with reader response Rosenblatt disciples v. Higher Criticism devotees to acknowledge that reading comprehension is a reciprocal process of the reader interacting with the text and author. If this is so, teaching students the cues to get more out of this interaction will necessarily improve reading comprehension.

Unfortunately, we teachers tend to spend more time building and assessing reading comprehension about texts. Think comprehension questions at the end of social studies or science textbook chapters. Or novel chapter discussions, quizzes, book reports, literacy groups. Nothing wrong with these teacher-guided, reflective activities; however, readers also need plenty of with text practice on their own to improve reading comprehension.

One controversial caveat to add at this point. When I emphasize on their own practice, I am not advocating hands-off sustained silent reading, free voluntary reading, drop everything and read, “Book Whisperer” approaches to eat up class time. We teachers need to actively teach, facilitate, and monitor this individual student practice in class and at home. I’ve written plenty and provided resources regarding these potential rabbit trails: See research-based articles HERE.

However, to stay focused on reading comprehension cues, I will share five active verb prompts which teachers can teach students to use to build better and deeper understanding with the text as they read. The beauty of these cues is three-fold. First, they work equally well with expository and narrative text. Second, they work in conjunction with any reading activity from dialectical journals to close activities. Third, they unify the language of instruction. If content area teachers use the same cue verbs and encourage their students to use this language, students will internalize these prompts and improve independent reading comprehension in all content texts.

The SCRIP Comprehension Cues: Summarize, Connect, Re-think, Interpret, Predict

Summarize means to put together the main ideas (if expository reading) and important details (if narrative reading) into a short-version re-tell of what the author has said. Teach students to summarize more than once at key transition points in the author’s train of thought. It frequently requires the reader to skim that part of the reading once more. Check out a YouTube video demonstration of the Summarize Comprehension Strategy, using The Boy Who Cried Wolf fairy tale to illustrate this strategy. The storyteller first reads the fairy tale without comment. Next,  the story is read once again as a think-aloud with interruptions to show how readers should summarize sections of the reading as they read to monitor and build comprehension.

Connect means to notice the relationship between one part of the text with another part of the text. The parts may compare (be similar) or contrast (be different). The parts may be a sequence (an order) of events or ideas. The parts may respond to other parts of the text, such as to provide reasons for or effects of what came before in the reading. Next, Connect also means to examine the relationship between one part of the text with something outside of the text. It could be something from another book, movie, television show, or historical event. Finally, Connect also means to see the relationship between one part of the text with your own personal experience. You may have had a similar experience in your own life to that described in the text. Check out a YouTube video demonstration of the Connect Comprehension Strategy, using Hansel and Gretel fairy tale to illustrate this strategy. The storyteller first reads the fairy tale without comment. Next,  the story is read once again as a think-aloud with interruptions to show how readers should connect sections of the reading within or outside of the text as they read to monitor and build comprehension.

Re-think means to re-read the text when you are confused or have lost the author’s train of thought. Reviewing what has just been read will improve understanding. You may even understand what the author has said in a different way than how you understood that section the first time reading it. Check out a YouTube video demonstration of the Re-think Comprehension Strategy, using Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale to illustrate this strategy. The storyteller first reads the fairy tale without comment. Next,  the story is read once again as a think-aloud with interruptions to show how readers should re-think sections of the reading as they read to monitor and build comprehension.

Interpret means to focus on what the author means. Authors may directly say what they mean right in the lines of the text. They also may suggest what they mean with hints to allow readers to draw their own conclusions. These hints can be found in the tone (feeling/attitude) of the writing, the word choice, or in other parts of the writing that may be more directly stated. Check out a YouTube video demonstration of the Interpret Comprehension Strategy, using Goldilocks and the Three Bears fairy tale to illustrate this strategy. The storyteller first reads the fairy tale without comment. Next,  the story is read once again as a think-aloud with interruptions to show how readers should re-think sections of the reading as they read to monitor and build comprehension.

Predict means to make an educated guess about what will happen or be said next in the text. A good prediction uses the clues presented in the reading to make a logical guess that makes sense. Good readers check their predictions with what actually happens or is said next. Check out a YouTube video demonstration of the Predict Comprehension Strategy, using The Three Little Pigs fairy tale to illustrate this strategy. The storyteller first reads the fairy tale without comment. Next,  the story is read once again as a think-aloud with interruptions to show how readers should predict sections of the reading and check the accuracy of their predictions as they read to monitor and build comprehension.

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Teaching Reading Strategies Intervention Program

Intervention Program Science of ReadingPennington Publishing provides two reading intervention program options for ages eight–adult. The Teaching Reading Strategies (Intervention Program) is a full-year, 55 minutes per day program which includes both word recognition and language comprehension instructional resources (Google slides and print). The word recognition components feature the easy-to-teach, interactive 5 Daily Google Slide Activities: 1. Phonemic Awareness and Morphology 2. Blending, Segmenting, and Spelling 3. Sounds and Spelling Independent Practice 4. Heart Words Independent Practice 5. The Sam and Friends Phonics Books–decodables 1ith comprehension and word fluency practice for older readers. The program also includes sound boxes and personal sound walls for weekly review.  The language comprehension components feature comprehensive vocabulary, reading fluency, reading comprehension, spelling, writing and syntax, syllabication, reading strategies, and game card lessons, worksheets, and activities. Word Recognition × Language Comprehension = Skillful Reading: The Simple View of Reading and the National Reading Panel Big 5.

If you only have time for a half-year (or 30 minutes per day) program, the The Science of Reading Intervention Program features the 5 Daily Google Slide Activities, plus the sound boxes and personal word walls for an effective word recognition program.

PREVIEW TEACHING READING STRATEGIES and THE SCIENCE OF READING INTERVENTION PROGRAM RESOURCES HERE for detailed product description and sample lessons.

Get the SCRIP Comprehension Strategies FREE Resource:

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School Jingles

School Songs

School Jingles

Twas the Night before Christmas

The most famous Christmas poem, was originally titled “A Visit.”

It was published anonymously on December 23, 1823. Not until 1837 did the author of the poem, which was now known as “Twas the Night before Christmas,” claim credit. The author was Clement Clarke Moore, a New York professor who was initially ashamed to claim credit for such an “unscholarly work.” Much of what we know about Santa Claus comes from the verses of this poem as you will soon hear. Of course, as an English teacher I would have preferred the apostrophe prior to the contraction, ’twas, but the author of the poem retains the right to punctuate as he or she or they so chooses!

Watch the catchy Twas the Night before Christmas” YouTube video after you read a bit about me and what I can do for your school.

I Write School Songs

In addition to my experience as an English teacher, I also am a professional musician and songwriter. I combine my love for teaching and music in a commercials jingles and songwriting business. Yes, I write school songs!

If you want to develop your school’s brand, establish traditions, and build school spirit, incorporating original, customized music can help you do so! I write and record three type of songs for schools, including lyrics from your mission statement, creed, motto, name, colors, and/or mascot:

  1. A quick “Announcements” lead-in for your morning public address with 10 versions to keep the song fresh;
  2. A “Spirit (Fight) Song” for special events, assemblies, sporting events, use in the multi at lunch, and video messages;
  3. A catchy and singable “Alma Mater” to close assemblies, staff meetings, PTA/PTO meetings, and graduation ceremonies.

The “Spirit Song” and “Alma Mater” include optional videos with song lyrics for group singing and sheet music with piano accompaniment for band and choir performances. The songs also make great additions to your school website. As a former teacher, I understand the importance of creating a positive and unified school climate. Your own school songs can enhance the culture of your school. Plus, they are a lot of fun! Your satisfaction is guaranteed. Check out samples, pricing, and reviews at https://penningtonpublishing.com/collections/mark-pennington/products/school-songs. Or contact Mark directly at 888-565-1635 or mark@penningtonpublishing.com.

School Jingles

School Songs

Oh, and here’s the video to enjoy: Twas the Night before Christmas”

Happy Holidays,

Mark Pennington

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School Songs

I Write School Songs

Interested in developing your school’s brand, establishing traditions, and building school spirit with original, customized music? As a professional songwriter and musician, I write and record three type of songs for schools, including lyrics from your mission statement, creed, motto, name, colors, and/or mascot:

  1. A quick “Announcements” lead-in for your morning public address with 10 versions to keep the song fresh;
  2. A “Spirit (Fight) Song” for special events, assemblies, sporting events, use in the multi at lunch, and video messages;
  3. A catchy and singable “Alma Mater” to close assemblies, staff meetings, PTA/PTO meetings, and graduation ceremonies.

Review from Ryan R. Lucas, Principal of Governor’s Ranch Elementary in Littleton, Colorado:

“Mark was exceptional easy to work with. He took into consideration existing school culture and traditions, and incorporated everything into some amazing songs that will become traditions unto themselves. The songs were catchy and students loved them!”

The “Spirit Song” and “Alma Mater” include optional videos with song lyrics for group singing and sheet music for band and choir performances. The songs also make great additions to your school website. As a former teacher, I understand the importance of creating a positive and unified school climate. Your own school songs can enhance the culture of your school. Plus, they are a lot of fun! Your satisfaction is guaranteed.

Check out samples, pricing, and reviews at https://penningtonpublishing.com/collections/mark-pennington/products/school-songs.

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Vocabulary Assessments | Academic Language Tier 2 Words

Vocabulary Assessments | Academic Language Tier 2 Words

Following are free diagnostic academic language assessments in self-correcting Google forms to help teachers determine what students know and what they do not know regarding the grade level Tier 2 words. The Tier 2 vocabulary has been derived from the research-based Academic Word List (AWL).  The author’s grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 Common Core Vocabulary Toolkits provide the corresponding instructional resources to teach the grade level Common Core Vocabulary Standards L. 4, 5, 6.

The Academic Word List has been ordered into grade level lists by frequency of use. Each grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 Academic Language Assessment includes 56 Tier 2 words. The Tier 2 words are the academic language words that are most-often generalizable across the academic domains. For example, the word analyze is used in English-language arts, social science, history, science, math, and the arts.

Academic Word List Criteria

Dr. Averil Coxhead, senior lecturer at the Victoria University of Wellington School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies developed and evaluated The Academic Word List (AWL) for her MA thesis. The list has 570 word families which were selected according to certain criteria:

  • The word families must occur in over half of the 28 academic subject areas. “Just over 94% of the words in the AWL occur in 20 or more subject areas. This principle ensures that the words in the AWL are useful for all learners, no matter what their area of study or what combination of subjects they take at tertiary level.”
  • “The AWL families had to occur over 100 times in the 3,500,000 word Academic Corpus in order to be considered for inclusion in the list. This principle ensures that the words will be met a reasonable number of times in academic texts.” The academic corpus refers to a computer-generated list of most-frequently occurring academic words.
  • “The AWL families had to occur a minimum of 10 times in each faculty of the Academic Corpus to be considered for inclusion in the list. This principle ensures that the vocabulary is useful for all learners.”

Words Excluded From the Academic Word List

  • “Words occurring in the first 2,000 words of English.”
  • “Narrow range words. Words which occurred in fewer than 4 faculty sections of the Academic Corpus or which occurred in fewer than 15 of the 28 subject areas of the Academic Corpus were excluded because they had narrow range. Technical or specialist words often have narrow range and were excluded on this basis.”
  • “Proper nouns. The names of places, people, countries, for example, New Zealand, Jim Bolger and Wellington were excluded from the list.”
  • “Latin forms. Some of the most common Latin forms in the Academic Corpus were et al, etc, ie, and ibid.” http://www.victoria.ac.nz/lals/resources/academicwordlist/information

ACADEMIC LANGUAGE ASSESSMENTS (Self-Correcting Google Forms)

Grade 4 Academic Language Assessment

Grade 5 Academic Language Assessment

Grade 6 Academic Language Assessment

Grade 7 Academic Language Assessment

Grade 8 Academic Language Assessment

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RECOMMENDED VOCABULARY PROGRAMS APPLYING ASSESSMENT-BASED INSTRUCTION

Common Core Vocabulary Toolkits Grades 4-8

Common Core Vocabulary Toolkits

The Common Core State Standards emphasize a balanced approach to vocabulary development. Each of the grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 Common Core Vocabulary Toolkits include fillable 56 worksheets, along with vocabulary study guides, and biweekly unit tests in self-correcting Google forms to help your students collaboratively practice and master these Common Core Standards:

  • Multiple Meaning Words and Context Clues (L.4.a.)
  • Greek and Latin Word Parts (L.4.a.)
  • Language Resources (L.4.c.d.)
  • Figures of Speech (L.5.a.)
  • Word Relationships (L.5.b.)
  • Connotations (L.5.c.)
  • Academic Language Words (L.6.0)

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Re-thinking Reading Assessment

The pandemic effectively suspended the implementation of standards-based summative reading assessments, and most teachers did not shed any tears. However, the anti-testing movement tends to broad-brush the full range of assessments and undermine the application of assessment-based instruction. All testing is not equal, and as a reading specialist, my fear is that we may be throwing out the baby with the bath water.

In “3 Reasons We’re Still Using Outdated Assessments,” the author analyzes the multi-faceted roles of educational assessments.

Key quote from article: “We need to know where students are so we can get them where they need to be. Rather than centering instruction around assessments that occur at the end of the learning cycle, assessments should inform the teaching and learning process every step of the way.”

Essentially, the author argues that CCSS and state standards benchmarks should serve as our primary assessments.  I take issue with this conclusion. While helpful for formative assessment, these benchmark assessments don’t produce the diagnostic data needed to inform initial instruction.

Pardon the silly cooking comparison:

Summative assessments are like comparing Mom’s fresh out of the oven cornbread to a neighbor’s. We can taste which is better, but we can’t isolate the variables to determine why Mom’s is better.

Formative benchmark assessments check the ratios of water to corn meal to added sugar; they check how well the cornbread is browning; and they use the toothpick to determine if the center is fully cooked. All necessary to check, and we can determine which steps were mastered and which were not, but checking off each step of the cooking directions is only the process, not the content of the cooking.

Diagnostic assessments provide the content i.e., the recipe. We need to know the list of ingredients that Mom uses for her award-winning cornbread. But that’s not enough. We also must compare what’s in the kitchen cabinet to that list. Even if Mom’s doing the cooking, the cornbread won’t be up to her standards if she leaves out or ignores key ingredients in her recipe.

Perhaps all three layers of assessment have value, but of the three, it’s the diagnostic recipe most impacts the finished product: informed, targeted instruction and efficient learning.

Here’s my recipe for ELA and reading teachers i.e., free diagnostic reading, spelling, and grammar assessments: https://blog.penningtonpublishing.com/grammar_mechanics/reading-and-spelling-assessments-2/

The author, Mark Pennington, creates assessment-based curriculum. Check out programs at Pennington Publishing.

Grammar/Mechanics



Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics Diagnostic Assessments

Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics Assessments

Following are accurate and teachable diagnostic grammar, usage, and mechanics assessments and corresponding recording matrices to help teachers determine what students know and what they do not know. Each assessment is comprehensive, not a random sample, to enable teachers to teach to the results of each test item. The author’s grades 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and high school grammar, usage, and mechanics programs provide the corresponding resources for assessment-based whole class and individualized instruction.

GRAMMAR, USAGE, AND MECHANICS DIAGNOSTIC ASSESSMENTS

Diagnostic Grammar and Usage Assessment with Recording Matrix (Printable Copy) 

Use this 45 item assessment to determine student’s knowledge of parts of speech, subjects and predicates, types of sentences, fragments and run-ons, pronoun usage, modifiers, verb tenses and verb forms.

Mechanics Assessment (Printable Copy) 

Use this 32 item assessment to test students’ ability to apply correct usage of commas, capitalization, and all other essential punctuation.

Diagnostic Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics Assessment (Google Apps)

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RECOMMENDED GRAMMAR PROGRAMS APPLYING ASSESSMENT-BASED INSTRUCTION

Choose among three instructional formats:

1. The traditional grade-level programs (with printables and Google apps) Teaching Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics Grades 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and High School

2. Interactive Notebook for grades 4-8 Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics Interactive Notebook

3. Literacy Centers: Language Conventions Academic Literacy Center Extensive Program Samples

Remedial Grammar and Mechanics Literacy Center Extensive Program Samples

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FREE Sound Wall Songs

For older students who struggle with reading, many have problems making the phoneme (speech sound) to grapheme (print) connection. What’s preventing these students from making this connection? Often, it’s inaccurate or inconsistent recognition and production of the speech sounds. After all, if you can’t say ’em, you can’t read ’em and you certainly can’t spell ’em.

Many teachers who have recognized this problem assume that another dose of Heggerty, Barton, or others with phonemic awareness programs (I also have PA drills in my reading intervention programs) will do the trick, but this is not always the solution for all of your students. Practicing  phonemic isolation, segmenting, substitution, manipulation, reversals, etc., may not solve the problem if students do not know proper mouth formation and speech articulation. In the past, reading specialists and intervention teachers would refer students who lack these reading prerequisites to speech therapists, and this may indeed be necessary. But, with proper coaching, reading teachers can certainly assist most of their students who can’t recognize and produce speech sounds properly.

One  important tool that teachers are using to help students learn or re-learn the speech sounds is the instructional sound wall. Sound walls consist of the 43-45 phoneme-grapheme cards posted on the classroom wall and organized into two sections: vowels and consonants. If you are unfamiliar with what a sound wall looks like, the Louisiana Department of Education has produced a wonderful “how-to set up a sound wall” resource. Here are the digital sound walls I use in my reading intervention programs:

Vowel Valley and Consonant Sounds Sound Walls

Vowel Valley

Consonant Sounds

The different phonemes associated with vowels are arranged in a “valley” formation on the wall that looks like the opening of the mouth that happens when the vowel sounds are spoken. Vowel sounds produce unobstructed air flow through the mouth, unlike consonants.

The consonants, organized by “manners of articulation” proposed by Dr. Louisa Moats (2020) are posted as follows:

● Stops – airflow is completely obstructed by the lips
● Nasals – airflow is obstructed in the mouth, but released through the nose
● Affricates – begins as a stop, but ends as a fricative
● Fricatives – air flows, but friction is created by small separations between articulators
● Glides – no friction in the airflow, but changes in sound are produced by the placement of the tongue and lips
● Liquids – the tongue creates a partial closure in the mouth that redirects airflow

Sound-Spelling Cards

Animal Cards

Phoneme-Grapheme (Sound-Spelling) Card Components

Sounds: Sound-spelling cards include sound symbols, indicated by slanted lines. For example, /k/ and /r/. Note that the sounds are not the same as the alphabetic letters. The “c” as in card has the /k/ sound, not a /c/ sound. In my reading intervention programs, I include audio files on each digital card.

Pictures: The phoneme-grapheme cards usually feature a picture which has a name that emphasizes the focus sound. The picture acts as a mnemonic to cement the phoneme-grapheme relationship for students.

When students learn the phoneme-grapheme (sound-letter) correspondences with embedded mnemonic pictures (see the research of Ehri and Wilce), the phoneme-grapheme cards are useful tools for building phoneme awareness because the abstract sounds and symbols are now tied to concrete representations. Dr. Tim Shanahan also stresses the importance of practicing sound-picture connections.

Many teachers help students memorize the name of the card i.e., the picture, when introducing the sound indicated on the card. In my reading intervention programs, I teach animal chants, because all of my cards all feature non-juvenile animal photograph. A typical chant would be as follows:

Name?

newt

Sound?

/n/

Spellings: The common sound-spellings are also featured on the cards.  The spellings include blanks to indicate their location within words and to help students select appropriate spellings. For example, if a student is spelling the word, betray, the “ai_” spelling choice would be eliminated from consideration, because the blank indicates that “ai” cannot end a syllable. The “_ay” would be a more informed selection.

FREE Sound Wall Animal Cards

Get 45 colorful Animal Cards to help students connect phonemes to graphemes and learn proper mouth formation and speech articulation. Note the audio function only works in the reading intervention programs detailed below.

FREE Sound Wall Songs to Teach Proper Mouth Formation and Speech Articulation

To help students remember how to position and move the mouth, I’ve created songs which explain the mouth formations and sound production. The Vowel Valley Chant includes this music, the Animal Chants, and the Vowel Valley graphic representations for each of type of  vowel. The Consonant Sounds Chant also includes this music, the Animal Chants, and the consonant “manners of articulation” graphic representations for each of type of  consonant. 23 minutes of 12 silly, but memorable songs, along with 45 Animal Cards to practice the sounds and spellings for each card. Did I say they are FREE for classroom use. Please don’t post ’em online.

FREE Personal Sound Wall Printables

To add to the traditional vowel valley and consonant sounds wall cards, I would suggest adding separate graphic representations of the sound-print subsections for individual students. I provide 13 Sound Wall Printables in my reading intervention programs, such as in the Fricatives graphic below.

Fricatives: Personal Sound Wall

These “personal sound walls” consist of separate short vowels, long vowels, digraphs, diphthongs, r-controlled vowels, organized in the classic Vowel Valley configuration.  Additionally, I suggest separate graphic representations of the consonant “manners of articulation” (see Dr. Moats’ organization above). My reading intervention programs detailed below include two versions of the Personal Sound Walls: Google slides (with fill-in text boxes and audio files) and printable PDFs to print and laminate. With the laminated copies, students can use dry erase markers to write word examples, erase, and practice again. Download the FREE Personal Sound Wall Printables, print on 11 x 17 paper, laminate, and practice!

Mouth Formation and Movement: A unique feature of the posted sound wall cards and “personal sound walls” is that they also include images (photographs or graphics) of mouths articulating the different phonemes, so that students can make the connection between what a phoneme sounds like and how their mouths are formed and move when they are saying that phoneme.

Teachers may choose to have a mirror nearby so that students may see their own mouths while using the sound wall.

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Each of the above resources is included for teachers to review components of my two reading intervention programs. Click on the provided links to view video overviews and to download sample lessons.

Intervention Program Science of Reading

The Science of Reading Intervention Program

Pennington Publishing provides two reading intervention program options for ages eight–adult. The Teaching Reading Strategies (Intervention Program) is a full-year, 55 minutes per day program which includes both word recognition and language comprehension instructional resources (Google slides and print). The word recognition components feature the easy-to-teach, interactive 5 Daily Google Slide Activities: 1. Phonemic Awareness and Morphology 2. Blending, Segmenting, and Spelling 3. Sounds and Spelling Independent Practice 4. Heart Words Independent Practice 5. The Sam and Friends Phonics Books–decodables 1ith comprehension and word fluency practice for older readers. The program also includes sound boxes and personal sound walls for weekly review.  The language comprehension components feature comprehensive vocabulary, reading fluency, reading comprehension, spelling, writing and syntax, syllabication, reading strategies, and game card lessons, worksheets, and activities. Word Recognition × Language Comprehension = Skillful Reading: The Simple View of Reading and the National Reading Panel Big 5.

If you only have time for a half-year (or 30 minutes per day) program, the The Science of Reading Intervention Program features the 5 Daily Google Slide Activities, plus the sound boxes and personal word walls for an effective word recognition program.

PREVIEW TEACHING READING STRATEGIES and THE SCIENCE OF READING INTERVENTION PROGRAM RESOURCES HERE for detailed product description and sample lessons.

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Reading and Spelling Assessments

Following are accurate and teachable diagnostic phonemic awareness, reading, and spelling assessments with audio files, Google forms, Google sheets, and corresponding recording matrices to help teachers determine what students know and what they do not know. All but one assessment (fluency) are whole class assessments. Each assessment is comprehensive, not a random sample, to enable teachers to teach to the results of each test item. The author’s ELA/reading programs provide the resources for assessment-based whole class and individualized instruction. Click on the blue links for the assessment resources and check out the author’s programs, which provide the instructional resources to teach to each assessment.

Diagnostic Reading Assessments

Phonemic Awareness Assessments (Printable Copies) 

Use these five phonemic awareness (syllable awareness, syllable rhyming, phonemic isolation, phonemic blending, phonemic segmenting) to determine reading readiness. Each of the five assessments is administered whole class. The author’s half-year or 30 minutes per day Science of Reading Intervention Program (word recognition) and full-year Teaching Reading Strategies (word recognition and language comprehension) reading intervention programs include corresponding phonemic awareness and alphabetic awareness activities to remediate all deficits indicated by the assessments.

Vowel Sounds Phonics Assessment

(Printable Copy with Links to 10:42 Audio File, Google Forms, and Google Sheets)*

Printable and digital testing options: Use this comprehensive 52 item whole class assessment to determine your students’ mastery of short vowels, long vowels, silent final e, vowel digraphs, vowel diphthongs, and r-controlled vowels. The assessment uses nonsense words to test students’ knowledge of the sound-spellings to isolate the variable of sight word recognition. Unlike other phonics assessments, this assessment is not a random sample of phonics knowledge. The Vowel Sounds Phonics Assessment includes every common sound-spelling. Thus, the results of the assessment permit targeted instruction in any vowel sound phonics deficits. The author’s Teaching Reading Strategies reading intervention program includes corresponding worksheets and small group activities to remediate all deficits indicated by this assessment.

Consonant Sounds Phonics Assessment

(Printable Copy with Links to 12:07 Audio File, Google Forms, and Google Sheets)*

Printable and digital testing options: Use this comprehensive 50 item whole class assessment to determine your students’ mastery of consonant digraphs, beginning consonant blends, and ending consonant blends. The assessment uses nonsense words to test students’ knowledge of the sound-spellings to isolate the variable of sight word recognition. Unlike other phonics assessments, this assessment is not a random sample of phonics knowledge. The Consonant Sounds Phonics Assessment includes every common sound-spelling. Thus, the results of the assessment permit targeted instruction in any consonant sound phonics deficits. The author’s Teaching Reading Strategies reading intervention program includes corresponding worksheets and small group activities to remediate all deficits indicated by this assessment.

Heart Words Assessment (Printable Copy)

Use this 108 item whole class assessment to determine your students’ mastery of the most common English words with one or more “parts to learn by heart.” The author’s Teaching Reading Strategies structured literacy intervention program includes small group activities to remediate all deficits indicated by this 15-minute assessment. The program includes 3,000+ Google slides with two Heart Words in each of the 54 lessons, plus special interactive practice with these tricky words. The program also provides heart Words game card masters and individual sets of business card size game cards in the accompanying Reading and Spelling Game Cards.

Rimes Assessment (Printable Copy) 

Use this comprehensive 79 item whole class assessment to determine your students’ mastery of the most common English rimes. Memorization and practice of these word families such as ack, eck, ick, ock, and uck can supplement an explicit and systematic phonics program, such as found in the author’s Teaching Reading Strategies structured literacy intervention program to help students orthographically map these key word parts. Experienced reading teachers know that different students respond differently to reading instruction and some remedial students especially benefit from learning onsets (such as consonant blends) and rimes. The program includes small group activities to remediate all deficits indicated by this 15-minute assessment. The program also provides rimes game card masters and individual sets of business card size game cards in the accompanying Reading and Spelling Game Cards.

The Pets Fluency Assessment (Printable Copy) *

The “Pets” expository fluency passage is leveled in a unique pyramid design: the first paragraph is at the first grade (Fleish-Kincaid) reading level; the second paragraph is at the second grade level; the third paragraph is at the third grade level; the fourth paragraph is at the fourth grade level; the fifth paragraph is at the fifth grade level; the sixth paragraph is at the sixth grade level; and the seventh paragraph is at the seventh grade level. Thus, the reader begins practice at an easier level to build confidence and then moves to more difficult academic language. As the student reads the fluency passage, the teacher will be able to note the reading levels at which the student has a high degree of accuracy and automaticity. Automaticity refers to the ability of the reader to read effortlessly without stumbling or sounding-out words. The 383 word passage permits the teacher to assess two-minute reading fluencies (a much better measurement than a one-minute timing).

* Placement Assessments

Diagnostic Spelling Assessment

Following are accurate and teachable spelling assessments and corresponding recording matrices to help teachers determine what students know and what they do not know. Each assessment is comprehensive, not a random sample, to enable teachers to teach to the results of each test item. The author’s spelling programs provide the resources for assessment-based whole class and individualized instruction. Click on the blue links for the assessment resources and check out the author’s programs, which provide the instructional resources to teach to each assessment.

Administer part or all of the Diagnostic Spelling Assessment (American English Version) test items, according to grade-level criteria.

  • Grade 2: K-1 spelling patterns (#s 1‒41)
  • Grade 3: K-3 spelling patterns (#s 1‒55)
  • Grade 4: K-3 spelling patterns (#s 1‒64)
  • Grade 5: K-4 spelling patterns (#s 1‒82)
  • Grade 6: K-5 spelling patterns (#s 1‒100)
  • Grade 7: K-6 spelling patterns(#s 1‒102)

Administer part or all of the Diagnostic Spelling Assessment (Canadian English Version) test items, according to grade-level criteria

  • Grade 2: K-1 spelling patterns (#s 1‒41)
  • Grade 3: K-3 spelling patterns (#s 1‒55)
  • Grade 4: K-3 spelling patterns (#s 1‒64)
  • Grade 5: K-4 spelling patterns (#s 1‒82)
  • Grade 6: K-5 spelling patterns (#s 1‒100)
  • Grade 7: K-6 spelling patterns(#s 1‒102)
  • Grade 8: K-7 spelling patterns (#s 1‒106)

The test items are grouped by spelling patterns e.g., the four long /i/ spellings, to make posttest analysis simple. All spelling words are multi-syllabic to prevent students from identifying the words by “sight spellings” and to require recognition of the sound-spelling patterns within the context of syllables.

Assessment Formats

Choose the Diagnostic Spelling Assessment format which best suits your needs:

1. Printable Only: Teacher dictates the number of test items assigned to the grade levels, following the written administrative protocol. Students take the test on binder paper. Teacher corrects assessments according to directions and records spelling deficits on the Spelling Patterns Assessment Mastery Matrix.

American English Resources: Diagnostic Spelling Assessment teacher administration form; Spelling Patterns Assessment Mastery Matrix.

Canadian English Resources: Diagnostic Spelling Assessment teacher administration form; Spelling Patterns Assessment Mastery Matrix.

2. Audio and Printable: Teacher plays the “normal speed” Diagnostic Spelling Assessment audio file for grades 4, 5, and 6 students or the “quick version” Diagnostic Spelling Assessment audio file for grades 7 and 8 students. The audio file includes all administrative directions. Students take the test on binder paper. Teacher corrects assessments according to directions and records spelling deficits on the Spelling Patterns Assessment Mastery Matrix.

American English Resources: Diagnostic Spelling Assessment with the “normal speed” 22:38 audio file; Diagnostic Spelling Assessment with the “quick version 17:26 audio file; Spelling Patterns Assessment Matrix.

Canadian English Resources: Diagnostic Spelling Assessment with the “normal speed” 21:12 audio file; Diagnostic Spelling Assessment with the “quick version 18:53 audio file; Spelling Patterns Assessment Matrix. Audio files recorded by a Toronto teacher. Thanks!

3. Google Forms: Teacher shares either the Diagnostic Spelling Assessment Google Form with the “normal speed” for grades 4, 5, and 6 students or the form with the “quick version” for grades 7 and 8 students. Note that incorrect spellings with be accompanied by the Google red squiggly line indicating a spelling error. Students may be tempted to right click the word and select the correct spelling; however, if the teacher tells the students the purpose of the test and directs them not to self-correct, students will generally follow instructions. Telling students that they will receive the same amount of credit whether the spelling is accurate or not, and using the “quick version” audio also helps students avoid the temptation of cheating. Teacher uploads the students’ Google Forms into the Spelling Patterns Assessment Mastery Matrix Google Sheets.

American English Resources: Diagnostic Spelling Assessment Google Forms with the “normal speed” 22:38 audio file for grades 4, 5, and 6 students or the Diagnostic Spelling Assessment Google Forms with the “quick version: 17:26 audio file for grades 7 and 8 students; Spelling Patterns Assessment Mastery Matrix Google Sheets.

Canadian English Resources: Diagnostic Spelling Assessment Google Forms with the 21:10 “normal speed” audio file for grades 4, 5, and 6 students or the Diagnostic Spelling Assessment Google Forms with the 18:53 “quick version” audio file for grades 7 and 8 students; Spelling Patterns Assessment Mastery Matrix Google Sheets.

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American English Spelling Program

American English

RECOMMENDED SPELLING PROGRAMS APPLYING ASSESSMENT-BASED INSTRUCTION

Differentiated Spelling Instruction Grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 American English Programs

Canadian English Programs

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Intervention Program Science of Reading

The Science of Reading Intervention Program

Pennington Publishing provides two reading intervention program options for ages eight–adult. The Teaching Reading Strategies (Intervention Program) is a full-year, 55 minutes per day program which includes both word recognition and language comprehension instructional resources (Google slides and print). The word recognition components feature the easy-to-teach, interactive 5 Daily Google Slide Activities: 1. Phonemic Awareness and Morphology 2. Blending, Segmenting, and Spelling 3. Sounds and Spelling Independent Practice 4. Heart Words Independent Practice 5. The Sam and Friends Phonics Books–decodables 1ith comprehension and word fluency practice for older readers. The program also includes sound boxes and personal sound walls for weekly review.  The language comprehension components feature comprehensive vocabulary, reading fluency, reading comprehension, spelling, writing and syntax, syllabication, reading strategies, and game card lessons, worksheets, and activities. Word Recognition × Language Comprehension = Skillful Reading: The Simple View of Reading and the National Reading Panel Big 5.

If you only have time for a half-year (or 30 minutes per day) program, the The Science of Reading Intervention Program features the 5 Daily Google Slide Activities, plus the sound boxes and personal word walls for an effective word recognition program.

PREVIEW TEACHING READING STRATEGIES and THE SCIENCE OF READING INTERVENTION PROGRAM RESOURCES HERE for detailed product description and sample lessons.

Get the SCRIP Comprehension Strategies FREE Resource:

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