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Evaluating Readers to Guide Instructional Decisions

I've Collected the Data Now What

So, I've assembled student literacy portfolios and collected a variety of reading artifacts for each of my students.

Now what?

Okay...stay with me...I'm about to use THAT word!

We analyze the data!

Analyze makes it sound so overwhelming, BUT it doesn't have to be.

You are a teacher.

You are analyzing work as you collect it.

You are analyzing student work as you walk around and observe.

However, when looking at student work to analyze, look for possibilities. Jennifer Serravallo in, The Literacy Teacher's Playbook, says not to focus on the deficiencies, but look for possibilities.

When analyzing a student's reading artifacts, we must NOT focus on the child’s deficits. We must look for instructional opportunities that will make a difference in their reading lives.


As you review the 'data', have one or two guiding questions in mind to narrow the focus on what you are looking for within the sample.

Use the cheat sheet shown here to guide your thinking for each student. Remember, these are not the only questions you can ask yourself, it's just a good starting point. You know your students best.

As you are reviewing your student artifacts, look for patterns that will help inform your individual student goals and your classroom instruction.

As you are reviewing your student reading artifacts, look for areas of strength on which you can build to strengthen the readers' areas of need.

As you notice the strengths, think about how that understanding can be built upon to support a learning need.

What are Student Reading Artifacts?

👉 What data can be found in these artifacts?

Student artifacts are your students' work samples.

Student artifacts are your observation tools.

Student artifacts are the documentation you take as you work with your learners.

Student artifacts help track the progress of your learners' skill and strategy development.

Reading artifacts can include items such as...


Student written reading responses

Reading responses are student 'stop and jots' and notes taken during their independent reading. When you analyze these short written responses, you will gain insight into how your reader is thinking independently about their reading. You will be able to identify comprehension strategies the student is relying on or not yet using which will drive your future instruction.

Longer written reading responses are analytical driven responses in which readers analyze multiple points of text and provide evidence to support their thinking. These responses will also indicate which comprehension strategies your reader is relying on and which strategies they are not relying on which will drive your future instruction.

Both types of written reading response-short stop & jots or longer written responses-will determine whether your readers are gaining a deeper understanding of the text or just skimming the surface of meaning.

👉 Data gained from this ⬆️ reading artifact:

  • comprehension skills the learner relies on

  • how deep the reader's understanding goes--surface level or deeper


Reading Interest Surveys & Reflections

A reading interest survey can give you insight into the interests of your readers. This type of survey will provide data that can inform the types of books you use within lessons and, more specifically, the types of books you choose for small group instruction and the types of books you recommend to readers.

Reflections should be done several times throughout the school year to get to know your readers thoughts about how they are progressing in readers.

Reflections could be a little more specific, such as having readers answer open ended prompts about a particular skill or strategy.

👉 Data gained from this ⬆️ reading artifact:

  • whether the reader has a positive or negative attitude about reading

  • what the reader's interests are

  • the types of reading (if any) the reader engages in


Engagement Inventories

An engagement inventory is used as you observe how your learners engage in their independent work. When conducting an engagement inventory you could be observing behaviors such as these...

  • Do my learners get right to work?

  • Do my learners spend too much time browsing for books?

  • Do my learners get easily distracted?

  • Do my learners 'fake work'?

Engagement inventories are generally used at the beginning of a school year. However, engagement inventories should be conducted several times throughout a year to see how readers' engagement behaviors have changed.

More specifically, engagement inventories could be used with one child or a small group of children. A scenario for this use of an engagement inventory would be if most of your readers are actively engaged in reading but you need to pinpoint the challenges of a select group of students who are not actively engaging in their independent work.

👉 Data gained from this ⬆️ reading artifact:

  • the reader's attitude towards reading

  • how long the reader can stay engaged in reading work

  • factors that cause engagement and disengagement


Running Records

These could be formal assessment running records that come from THAT BOX (you know the one😉).


These could be short and informal running records you conduct yourself using a child's independent reading text. These informal running records only take a few minutes and are done with a child's self-selected independent reading. When you take a short little running record along with some open ended questioning, you will gain great insight into a reader's thinking.

👉 Data gained from this ⬆️ reading artifact:

  • how a reader tends to handle difficulty when reading

  • what cueing systems the reader relies on

  • what cueing system the reader does not know how to use


Tracking Charts

All teachers are usually required to keep some kind of reading level tracking chart. This will provide a snapshot of where your readers were and where they are right now. It will provide a picture of how each reader (and the group) is progressing.

👉 Data gained from this ⬆️ reading artifact:

  • how is the reader progressing

  • the reader's rate of progression


Conferring Notes

Independent reading is the teacher's busiest part of the day. It's during this time when small groups are met and individual conferences are conducted with readers (and writers). Individual conferences provide a glimpse into how a reader (or writer) can express their strengths and needs. It is here where a teacher can uncover unique learning needs for each student in the classroom.

👉 Data gained from this ⬆️ reading artifact:

  • does the reader initiate or request conferences

  • how the reader is able to express himself/herself as a reader

  • does the reader initiate or request conferences (waits for cues from teacher, offers relevant talking points, etc)


Accountable Talk

All readers and writers should be able to discuss their work. Learners should be able to articulate their thoughts about their reading (or writing).

When holding book talks and discussions, take time to notice and document whether learners are building on others' ideas, adding relevant talking points to the discussion or just sitting back and letting others do all the talking.

This type of observation data will provide more insight into the unique needs of your learners.

👉 Data gained from this ⬆️ reading artifact:

  • how the reader participates in book talk--offers ideas or sits and listens

  • how the reader builds on ideas

  • how the reader offers text evidence


Data is more than just standardized testing numbers.

Data is more than just graphs and spreadsheets.

Relevant and valid data demonstrates the progress a reader is making on a daily basis.

Student reading artifacts are the true data that will inform your instruction.

Student reading artifacts are the true data that will show what your readers need in real time.

Student reading artifacts provide a reliable data source for determining instructional opportunities that will make a difference in students' reading lives.

Until Next Time...

Grab the Evaluating Student Reading Artifacts Cheat Sheet along with a classroom snapshot form when you click here.


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