Wendy's Writing Project Blog

Automaticity vs. Fluency September 2, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — uiwpwendy @ 1:13 am

Two week’s ago, district K-2 teachers received a day of professional development led by Jan Richardson. I sent two tweets that morning:
1. What do you value in reading, @Unit4Schools?
2. Jan Richardson: It is not about a number, but about what a child needs.

I get why we are looking into different programs and at different assessment tools. As a district, we aren’t seeing the results that we need. I am open to having this conversation. I am, however, very leery about practices and programs that may do more harm than good. The practice of using AIMS web to not only benchmark, but provide weekly progress monitor seems just steps away from detrimental actions. Susan Dougherty Johnson and Melanie Kuhn only validate my concerns in their chapter Automaticity versus Fluency: Developing Essential Literacy Abilities with Print. No one is arguing that important literacy skills such as letter id., phonemic awareness, fluency, etc. shouldn’t be taught. So far, I don’t (or rather hope) that the implementation of letter naming, phoneme segmentation, nonsense word fluency, etc.) hasn’t led to instruction on how to conquered the assessment, but with teacher accountability of student performance looming, it is only a matter of time. Kids will be instructed on how to ‘beat the test’ instead of how to develop as a reader.

It is nice to have some ammunition against a practice I’ll continue to advocate against.

Luckily, AIMS web isn’t the only assessment we use, though it has become what determines if diagnostic assessment is needed. As the district prepares to adopt new literacy curriculum. We need to stay mindful of what we value in reading, and make sure we look beyond the number to find what our kids need.


Handbook of Effective Literacy Instruction: Researched-Based Practice K-8 September 1, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — uiwpwendy @ 11:19 pm


I reflected on what I thought I do in the classroom to motivate my students before I reading Roerig, Brinkerhoff, Rawls, and Pressley’s contribution, the first chapter of Taylor and Duke’s Handbook of Effective Literacy Instruction: Research-Based Practice K-8. I didn’t think on it too long, but jotted down:
Share my passion for learning
Reinforce good habits and behaviors
Build independence
Allow for student choice when possible
Set goals and confer with students– giving them what they need when they need it. As well as
allowing students to self-select goals
Co-construct assessment guidelines that values their input
Advocate for best practices with parents and colleagues

After reading the chapter, nothing seemed brazenly new or out-of-the ordinary from what I was trying to accomplish in my own room. There were two sections that caused the to pause. The first was on page 29, when they mentioned giving students “active tasks to do while reading independently” before cooperative learning. I wondered if I needed to rethink how my kids were doing independent and partner reading. Why can’t they just count on independent reading as a time to just read? And what happens when the book they have chosen doesn’t fit the task? They can’t work on identifying characters if they have chosen to read a nonfiction book. I think this active practice they speak of would work best for me to do during guided reading lessons.

The final ‘Looking Ahead’ section of the chapter caused me to shut down. When offered 18 questions to ponder, I choose zero. There’s a whole year’s worth of ideas for professional development here, which might prove useful to teams who only need to focus on motivation and nothing else.