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Reading Classroom

Throughout my reading observations at Southwestern College, I have seen outstanding

reading classrooms and classrooms that have struggled. When I think of successful reading
instruction within a reading classroom, I think of four main aspects. These aspects include
differentiated instruction, assessment, the Big 5, and successful reading groups. With these
four aspects in line, a teacher will have a successful reading classroom with ample time and
structure to aide in students learning.
Differentiated instruction can be defined as the way in which a teacher anticipates and
responds to a variety of student needs in the classroom. In other words, a teacher can take the
base lesson plan that can be applied to on-level students and change it in a way that it reaches
students that are beyond- level and below-level. To me, differentiated instruction in one of the
most important aspect that a first year teacher should learn because it will affect every students
throughout the entire year. Without differentiated instruction, students will be expected to master
a skill that isnt necessarily based around their level of intelligence. This will keep the above
grade level students from achieving higher knowledge and it will also hurt the below level
learners who might need extra time and instruction. Differentiated instruction is centered around
four key ideas that include the process by which a student learns, the product of their learning,
the environment in which a student learns, and the content that the student is learning. If all four
of these key ideas are put into consideration when looking into differentiated instruction, a first
year teacher will have all of the knowledge to reach his or her students.
The second aspect that a first year teacher should consider is the assessments that his or
her students will be taking through the year. A first year teacher might wonder how the students
will be assessed. The students can be assessed in numerous ways that include universal

screeners, diagnostic tests, formative progress monitoring, benchmark progress monitoring, and
summative outcome assessments. A universal screener is a short assessment that can tell a
teacher how much the students know. It can help a teacher understand who is on the current
grade level and who needs additional help to get back on grade level. It can also tell the teacher
who is above the current grade level so differentiated work can be given to those students.
Universal screeners are used three times a year so the school and the teacher can see where the
students are at based on their current academic level. Diagnostic screeners gives a teacher
information of what students know and dont know. It generally takes longer than the universal
screener and it is more intense. This assessment also helps a first year teacher understand what to
teach to struggling students. In the end, it leads to the decision making that a first year teacher
has to make about what has to be taught in the classroom. Formative progress monitoring can be
given at any time to check to see how the students are doing. They can be given in multiple ways
such as through comprehension questions and even spelling tests. Benchmark progress
monitoring is an assessment that is given to all students to make sure that the students are
understanding the material. It provides the teacher and the school with data that shows who and
how many students are understanding what is being taught. The final assessment is summative
assessment. Summative assessment is an outcome assessment that occurs at the end of the year
or at the end of a unit. The main idea of summative assessments is to aid the teacher in
understanding which students grasped the material that was taught that week, month, or even
The Big 5 is the next key aspect that I believe all first year teachers should understand
prior to their first day. The Big 5 includes the five main categories of reading instruction. They
include phonemic awareness, phonics, comprehension, fluency, and vocabulary. Phonemic

awareness is an awareness of the individual sounds in words such as the phonemes which are the
smallest units of sounds. The sounds of phonemes can be designated by slashes such as /a/ and
/t/. For example in the word sit, there are three phonemes: /s/ /i/ /t/. Phonics is closely related to
phonemic awareness but it is also different. Phonics is teaching students that the squiggles on a
page can actually mean something and represent a sound or sounds. Phonics is also the
relationship between the written letters and the sounds of spoken language. Comprehension is the
third aspect of the Big 5. Comprehension can be defined as making meaning of text. In other
words, without comprehension, a students will not understand what he or she is reading in a story
or text. Comprehension is important because it helps students understand the material that they
have read and helps them apply their knowledge. The next aspect of the Big 5 is vocabulary.
Vocabulary refers to the words that one must know to communicate effectively by listening,
speaking, reading, and writing. Often, students learn to decode well and to read fluently, but they
do not understand what they are reading. A first year teacher should understand how to teach
vocabulary so students understand what they are reading. The final part of the Big 5 is fluency.
Having fluency means being able to read text effortlessly to that you can concentrate on the
meaning. It means reading accurately and quickly, but it also entails using appropriate phrasing,
reading with expression, and attending to punctuation.
The final key that a first year teacher should know is how to set up successful classroom
reading groups. Having successful reading groups can help the students and the teacher for the
entire year. Setting up reading groups will help students thrive in reading by placing them with
other students who are on their current reading level. Determining a students reading level can
be done through assessments and general observations. A teacher can set his or her reading
groups up into three different levels such as below level, on level, and beyond level. This will

structure a classroom so that students can read and work with the teacher on their current reading
level. The teacher can also assign different leveled readers to the specific groups to the students
are not reading books that are too hard or too easy for them.
In the end, I believe that a first year teacher can prepare his or herself before the first day
of classes by looking into differentiated instruction, assessment, the Big 5, and successful
reading groups. This will give a new teacher a leg up and will help the teacher not feel as
overwhelmed in a new classroom and environment. Personally, I am happy that I have had the
opportunity to look deeper into these key aspects because I believe they will help me in my
future reading classroom.