We began by reviewing our student data. All special education teachers have been asked to keep running records on a bi-weekly basis as well as records for words their way. At each meeting, we review the data and discuss how we can tweak the instruction to improve student growth. We spent a fair amount of time on this because the reciprocity between reading and writing is powerful for our students and we try to maximize the learnings between the two. This is often a challenge in special education because students may have an IEP for one, but not the other.
During this session, I introduced the new Jan Richardson book,Next Steps in Guided Reading. This is a personal favorite of mine. Jan is a consultant I teamed with when I worked in Loudon County and Fairfax County in Northern Virginia. Her greatest strength is her ability to look at all of the research and combine best practices - new and tried and true - adding to our understandings of literacy overtime. She is also a great organizer because she understands where each "piece" fits. This book is her newest publication and demonstrates all of these qualities. It is ideal for special education staffs - ed techs and teachers alike.
The book presents appropriate formats - including prompts and strategies - for each level of guided reading presented in a balanced literacy format including word work and writing. Higher level thinking is incorporated throughout the lessons. Jan has also created assessment tools and management tools for teachers. We reviewed them and chose several that would work for specific teachers and students.
After much discussion, we decided to focus on the questioning format for constructed responses and the 6+1 traits rubric for that particular format. Many of the teachers have begun using a reading response journal for their students and we decided we would create RAFTS for journal response once a week and use the rubrics - the writing rubric as well as the revision rubric.
If you decide to adopt this method with your students special education or classroom - please keep in mind when working with any writing assignment, choose those traits that best address the purpose of the assignment. For example, the constructed response rubric incorporates: idea development, organization, and conventions.
Of course, I have not stated the obvious. We are also hoping this format will help not only with comprehension, but also will provide a concrete bridge that ill allow our students to respond to constructed response questions on the NECAP.