Our state/county/school has adopted the new mClass reading 3D assessment. Anyone else out there using this new fancy shmancy assessment yet?? First, let me say I apologize for the length of post, but once I started I just kept on going!
At our school all of the K-3 teachers got these cute little netbooks with a stylus to begin assessing the kiddos digitally. I thought it would be great! Finally all of my data is online and easy to pull up and sort through, cool right? It turned out to be a lot more involved than I had originally thought. This post may seem like it don't absolutely LOVE this new assessment but don't get me wrong, there are many positives that come from the oodles of assessment that we now complete all year. And I mean all year. For those out there who are unfamiliar with mClass reading 3D let me give you the short version.
All K-3 students must be assessed with the program as well as any 3-5 student who is working on a K-3 level. Each grade level has their own set of assessments but they are typically some kind of phonemic awareness/phonics, comprehension and fluency assessment. Diebels is used for the fluency assessment. I teach 2nd grade so my kiddos have to complete a certain set of assessments for 2nd graders at the beginning of the year, middle of the year and end of the year. When I say beginning I mean the second week of school I have to start assessing one-on-one, 3 different assessments for my 20 kids and I have a three week window in which to complete it. It is as crazy as it sounds, because we all know that during the second week of school routines are not quite running like clockwork, some kids are not always present the day you want to assess them and they still need lots of help completing centers and classwork but we all got through it. So, we assess beginning, middle and end. The fun doesn't end there, after we get these benchmark scores, as much as I would like to turn my computer off and put it in the filing cabinet until January I can't. We then progress monitor fluency and comprehension every week for the children who are not working on grade level. And it gets better, I also have to assess my on/above grade level kids as needed to see if they are moving along and in order to have an accurate grade for the report card. Let's put it this way, my cute little netbook is attached to my hands pretty much all week and I don't think it's so cute anymore. Somehow I still manage to meet with my small groups and teach something too, I really don't know how we do it : )
Well, I started this lovely assessment last year and my kiddos were doing well except for one assessment: comprehension. They were passing the book in terms of oral reading with 90-94% accuracy but they were bombing the comprehension assessment. The comprehension assessment is two fold in that they must answer 5 oral comprehension questions as well as two written comprehension questions that I CANNOT read to them. It must be independent and these questions were hard. I mean they were not just your normal retelling questions, they are in-depth, detailed, higher level thinking questions. The questions are also the same no matter what grade the student is in. The questions are leveled by reading level (using Fountas and Pinnell) but if you had a student who was a good fluent reader that could accurately read say a level N well, that is 3rd grade and they had to answer the level N comprehension questions even though maybe they were in 1st grade. As you can imagine, the younger kiddos couldn't read the question properly and therefore were not doing well. It was bad, I mean my poor kids would just stare at the paper and all I could say was, "try your best, you can do it". I felt so bad for them because I know they were as frustrated as I was. So, I figured they were bombing because I wasn't teaching what I was trying to assess.
I then came up with this handy dandy tool which you can download for free by clicking on the link below. I typed up and leveled all of the comprehension stems that the assessments were asking and started using them to ask questions from the stories they read during whole group for the week or during small group from their leveled readers. And they not only started to improve but they were blowing me away with their responses! Needless to say, they all survived 2nd grade last year and now I am using them with this years kiddos. I hope you can use it in your room, especially if you are an mClass school or if you aren't but would just like some rigorous comprehension stems! I use them as oral questions and also incorporate them as reader response questions so they can practice reading them. Check them out and see how they include many words and concepts that are quite difficult. Keep in mind that these are the same questions that are used for any student, regardless of grade.
If you use mClass at your school and have a great way for teaching or improving independent reading comprehension, I'd love to hear about it!