This three-part article series is designed to support 3rd-grade teachers in New York State as they prepare their students for the ELA (English Language Arts) test. The aim is to provide a comprehensive instructional approach that ensures all students, including subgroups such as ELL, special education students, and those at risk of reading failure, are well-prepared to meet or exceed proficiency targets.
Part 1: Understanding the NYS ELA Test and Aligning Instruction
- Overview of the NYS 3rd Grade ELA Test:
- Understand the structure, content areas, and types of questions on the ELA test.
- Familiarize yourself with the test’s focus on reading comprehension, vocabulary, and writing skills.
- Designing Lesson Plans Aligned with Test Requirements:
- Create lesson plans that cover the key content areas tested in ELA. Ensure these lessons build reading, writing, and critical thinking skills.
- Integrate test-taking strategies into your teaching, such as understanding multiple-choice questions and practicing timed reading and writing.
- Using Curriculum and Resources:
In ensuring that curriculum and instructional resources align with the Common Core Standards and the science of reading, it’s essential to select materials that are evidence-based and have a proven track record of effectiveness. Here’s an alternative recommendation:
Recommended Resource: ‘Essentials of Assessing, Preventing, and Overcoming Reading Difficulties’ by David Kilpatrick
- This resource provides comprehensive insights into assessing and teaching reading in alignment with the science of reading. It offers practical strategies for identifying and addressing reading difficulties, which is crucial for preparing students for standardized tests like the NYS ELA.
- Kilpatrick’s book delves into phonemic awareness and its role in reading development, providing evidence-based strategies for instruction and intervention.
By incorporating these resources into your lesson planning, you can ensure that your teaching is grounded in research and best practices in literacy education. This approach not only prepares students for the demands of standardized tests but also supports their overall reading development and proficiency.
Part 2: Targeted Instruction and Intervention Strategies
- Supporting Diverse Learners:
- Differentiate instruction to meet the diverse needs of your classroom, including ELL and special education students.
- Implement small-group and individualized instruction strategies for students who need additional support.
- Interventions for At-Risk Students:
- Identify students at risk of reading failure early and provide targeted interventions.
- Use resources such as ‘RTI Toolkit: A Practical Guide for Schools’ by Jim Wright for intervention ideas.
- Monitoring Progress:
- Regularly assess students’ progress using formative assessments and adjust instruction accordingly.
- Employ tools like Curriculum-Based Measurement (CBM) such as Acadience and benchmark assessments to track reading levels and comprehension skills.
Part 3: Building a Structured Approach to Literacy
- Incorporating the Science of Reading:
- Integrate evidence-based reading instruction strategies into your lesson plans.
- Resources like ‘The Knowledge Gap’ by Natalie Wexler can provide insights into effective literacy instruction.
- Fostering Critical Thinking and Analytical Skills:
- Teach students to analyze texts, infer meaning, and critique what they read.
- Use reading materials that encourage deep thinking and discussions, such as complex narrative and informational texts.
- Preparing for the Test Environment:
- Simulate the test environment in the classroom to help students become comfortable with the test format.
- Teach test-taking strategies and time management skills.
This comprehensive plan enables 3rd-grade teachers to systematically prepare their students for the NYS ELA test. The key is to align instruction with test requirements, provide targeted support to diverse learners, and build a structured approach to literacy that incorporates the science of reading. With these strategies in place, teachers can not only help their students achieve proficiency on the ELA test but also lay a solid foundation for their future academic success.