Reading Assessment Practice Ideas

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Feb. 10, 2020, 1:49 p.m.

By Randi Anderson

Assessment season is right around the corner and we know you are working tirelessly, preparing lessons that pack lots of punch (instruction wise). It is important to remember that we must model the types of thinking processes that are essential for proficient reading and writing, as well as provide time for students to repeatedly practice those thinking processes for the majority of our classroom time. Here are few ideas to use in your classrooms.

Analysis Circles

Good readers should always go in and out of comprehension and analysis thinking. Proficient readers must draw conclusions and evaluate the author's purpose in order to get beyond surface-level comprehension. Analysis thinking involves readers making inferences, drawing conclusions, developing arguments, and using reasoning skills to determine author's purpose and how to apply the content.

Analysis circles are one way to keep students thinking at the analysis level. Just like a discussion circle, students form heterogeneous groups of 4-6 students.

After students read the text at least one time, the teacher or students share a claim or question about the text with the group. Students share their thinking and provide reasons and evidence from the text. Each student will need to have a copy of the text during the discussion to help locate evidence/support for their reasoning or argument. Get our free Analysis Circle Student Response Sheet!

After the analysis circle, have students reflect on their new level of text understanding. What did you learn from the discussion? How has your thinking changed as a result of the reading, writing, and discussion of the text? What are your next steps for learning?

For students to be assessment capable learner, they must be able to reflect and self-evaluate.

Analysis circles help students deepen their understanding of a text. This is a perfect collaborative learning opportunity that can be used to learn content in science, social studies or even math.


Genre is important! Students must use knowledge of the genre they are reading as they process through a text. Historically, most students struggle with informational texts due to unfamiliar content and text structures. Maybe it is because we spend majority of our read aloud time reading mostly fiction texts. What if we intentionally read at least one informational text (or part of a text) to our students everyday?

Reading informational texts helps students build background knowledge. Marinate your students in informational texts, including literary nonfiction, procedural, persuasive and expository. While we are reading aloud ,we should also take the time to think aloud, as well. This shows students what proficient readers sound like in their head while reading.

Reader's Theater

There is no better way to get students practicing the art of reading than in a group setting like the one Reader's Theater provides. Give students 10-12 minutes per day to get into Reader's Theater groups to practice reading their selected scripts and parts. Students will be practicing reading (fluency) each day with their peers. The more times the students read their scripts, the better their understanding of the text and elements they will have. For more information on Reader's Theater, visit our other blog post.

Kelly Harmon and Randi Anderson

About The Authors

Kelly Harmon & Associates began in 2001 with a mission of instructional coaching and providing rich literacy resources for educators and parents. Our work incorporates research-based best practices for teaching and learning.

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