When it comes to developing lifelong readers, reading ability is essential, but reading growth may be even more critical. Teachers, especially those who recognize an achievement gap, need a way to monitor and assess how much their students are growing as readers, more so than just measuring their reading ability. If you’re striving to create a classroom with a growth mindset but also need a way to measure reading success, consider taking a closer look at reading growth.
What Does Reading Growth Look Like?
Reading growth is something you must observe. It’s how students develop and change their reading choices and routines over time. Reading growth may look like:
- Being able to read for more extended periods.
- Choosing reading over other leisure choices like screen time.
- Determining the lessons from a novel or book.
- Finding and discovering a new author or book.
- Using information read to change one’s mind or thinking.
- Identifying as a reader.
- Using more strategies to decode unknown words.
While these aspects may not be quantifiable in a grade book, they are vital in developing reading skills. When teachers explore strategies to promote reading growth, students improve their academic achievement and literacy skills.
Why Is Improving Students’ Reading Abilities Integral to Development?
The growth of reading skills and improved reading abilities are crucial elements in a child’s development. Not only does it support academic progress by enhancing performance in other subjects, but it also plays a significant role in social and emotional growth. Reading fosters better interpersonal communication skills, which continue to benefit individuals even in adulthood. The act of reading has the remarkable ability to inspire and empower students, enabling them to thrive in other aspects of life and giving them greater self-confidence and opportunities for success.
The bottom line is that literacy is key to many significant benefits for children, including achieving academic success, enhancing overall knowledge, supporting cognitive development, expanding vocabulary, developing critical thinking skills, and more. These benefits follow the student throughout life, giving them opportunities to thrive and equipping them to handle life’s challenges.
How Reading Growth Can Be Measured
So, how can teachers measure reading growth? Reading remains a complex process using various skills, so the goal is to measure growth and progress rather than a student’s specific abilities at a particular time. Educators can measure this growth by keeping two factors in mind.
- Accuracy: Students should be observed for increased reading accuracy, from reading sight words to sounding out multisyllabic words.
- Comprehension: Does the student understand and remember what they read? This is the end goal of reading, so it’s something to start working on with questioning during reading activities.
Common Reading Assessment Techniques
Traditional reading assessment techniques examine reading skills to get a big picture of a student’s abilities. Reading comprehension and accuracy can be assessment techniques, but teachers often evaluate additional reading skills using similar approaches.
- Language Comprehension: This includes selecting an appropriate text for the child’s reading level and asking in-depth questions about the content.
- Decoding: This involves presenting isolated words to the student, beyond sight word recognition, to test their ability to read and understand unfamiliar words.
- Background Knowledge: This involves presenting tightly constructed sequences of text that are thematically related and then asking a student to answer factual questions based on what they read to help grow their knowledge about the world.
- Phonology: This technique presents words and asks students to identify the correct one by circling or pointing to an associated picture.
- Comprehension Quizzes: Accelerated Reader quizzes are a popular way to tackle this task, providing students with leveled reading passages and quizzes to complete.
- Oral Reading Context Fluency: This requires leveled reading passages appropriate for the student’s abilities, allowing them to succeed and giving the teacher a clear understanding of their abilities without struggling over challenging passages.
Assessment Techniques That Are Not Quiz-Based
While traditional testing can provide valuable insights into a student’s reading growth, it often comes with challenges. Not only is it stressful for students, but it can also be time-consuming for teachers to administer and assess. However, alternative methods can capture the less quantifiable signs of growth.
For instance, teachers can measure reading growth by observing that their students can only handle 10 minutes of independent reading time at the start of the school year, but by the end of the school year, they can handle 30 or more minutes. They could notice students conversing about the books they love and feel confident choosing a new series. While these growth measures can’t be tested, they are valuable.
Another way to gauge reading growth is through the implementation of gamification principles. By incorporating gamification elements into the reading process, such as setting and achieving reading goals, earning badges and rewards for accomplishments, and engaging in reading challenges and competitions, students find reading more thrilling and experience a sense of achievement and progress. By focusing on growth indicators such as increased motivation, engagement, and enjoyment of reading, Beanstack ensures that each student’s reading journey is acknowledged and celebrated, igniting their passion for books.
How Beanstack Improves Reading Growth
Instead of a quiz-based approach, Beanstack uses competition, recognition, and proven gamification principles to motivate students to read. Here is a closer look at how the platform can demonstrate student reading growth:
Measures Student Growth Effectively
With the addition of Lexile Insights for Teachers, teachers can measure student reading growth through free choice reading. Teachers can track what students self-select to read and how, over time, it aligns with Lexile levels and growth. Teachers can also track how much time they read to see if students are reading more now than they did in the past. Educators can see reading growth for individual students and the entire class. They can also check this data in real time, allowing them to structure in-class learning activities to support better reading growth.
Encourages Students to Read More
The more students read, the better they become at reading. Reading growth requires time, and Beanstack encourages students to spend more time reading so they can earn more rewards. Remember, it takes 15 minutes of engaged reading daily to support reading growth. Through Beanstack, students log all their reading, including the reading they choose to do on their own, so teachers can see which students need to add more reading time to achieve their goals.
Engages Students With Gamification Elements to Make Reading Fun
What makes reading more enticing with Beanstack? Gamification elements make reading fun and interactive, which motivates students to continue reading. Five areas of gamification in Beanstack are:
- Badges: Students earn digital badges for completing reading challenges set by the school or their teacher.
- Reading Streaks: Students get rewarded when they read multiple days in a row, which is proven to keep them reading. Celebratory messages and gentle reminders encourage students to continue their reading streaks.
- Achievements: Built-in achievements surprise readers month to month. Themed digital badges celebrate reading on special days of the year, like author birthdays.
- Friends and Leaderboards: Students can see what their friends read on Beanstack. Plus, grade- and school-level leaderboards encourage friendly, healthy competition.
- Rewards: Besides digital badges, teachers can offer prizes that reward individual reading efforts and the entire school for meeting a combined reading goal.
Promotes Self-Confidence in Reading Abilities
By avoiding quizzes, Beanstack encourages reading progress while building self-confidence. The platform provides equal opportunities for all students, regardless of their reading abilities. Students who struggle with reading can receive additional support and encouragement through personalized recommendations, reading tips, and interactive activities. On the other hand, students who excel at reading can challenge themselves with more advanced materials and opportunities for growth. By catering to each student’s needs, Beanstack helps create an inclusive and supportive learning environment.
Beanstack also encourages autonomy. Students can log their reading anytime, even using the mobile app at home. It’s satisfying to see the list of titles read or minutes logged adding up over the course of a school year. By tracking student reading at school and home, teachers can access much more data to measure reading growth.
Builds a Lifelong Love of Reading
Beanstack makes reading fun and rewarding, leading to a long-term love of reading. When established in childhood, that love of reading follows a child into adulthood. Reading impacts adults in several ways, providing healthy stress relief, greater empathy, and even improved sleep, so building a love of reading for a lifetime is vital.