2016 TCRWP August Reading Institute

Advanced Small Group led by with Kelly Boland
Using Learning Progressions and Performance Assessments to Increase Students’ Skills
and Independence (3-5)

I will admit that before this week, I had not opened the Pathways Reading book. I do use the Writing Pathways book. I have given the Performance Assessment, Abby Takes a Shot. I have used the 3rd grade, Building a Reading Life book a little. Kelly helped me to see in just one week how powerful the Pathways Reading book!  As with everything at TCRWP, this brilliant staff developer had me DO the work that I will eventually have my students do. Because I did it, now I can teach it!

DAY 1:
She started with a read-aloud. She told us we needed 2 post-it notes. Then she matter-of-factly stated, “Teaching is a political act. I chose this book.” And then she began reading One Green Apple by Eve Bunting. (So interesting, I thought, in light of the 2016 Presidential Election issues at the current time to read this book. As I pondered her statement about teaching, I had to agree. So often, I share issues in the public realm at school in order to discuss more. It seems like that is my job as a teacher, too.) After a few pages, she stopped and asked:

“What ideas are you having about the characters so far?” Jot it on one post-it.

She read on. Then she stopped again and asked:

“What life lessons or themes seem to be starting to be important in this story?” Jot it on 2nd post-it note.

Then we were asked to get in groups of 4-6, read each character jot and place them in order from GOOD to BETTER to BEST and be able to name WHY we put them in that order.

This was her introduction to helping us see the mindset of Where am I? and What might my goal be if I am here? This was her introduction to using the Pathway Learning Progressions.

All week with Kelly we spent time reading fiction and immersing ourselves in the Fiction Progressions. To unpack a strand, we did three things:

  1. Study the difference between the levels within a strand.
    1. What is the big shift?
    2. What is the key work of this level?
  2. Put the strand in our own words by pulling out the key words.
  3. Imagine how this would look for a student to do while they write about their reading (or for some strands like Fluency, actually read with teacher listening)

Together as a class, Kelly picked the Character Strand on page 183 and we did the 3 steps.

At Grade 2, the character’s feelings are named.
Farah is sad.

At Grade 3, character traits are named.
Farah is shy. She has no friends.

At Grade 4, characters are complicated, more than one way.
On the one hand, Farah is shy. She has no friends. But on the other hand, Farah is strong because she helps make the apple cider.

At Grade 5, add quotes as evidence
On the one hand, Farah is shy. She has no friends. “I am tight inside myself”. But on the other hand, Farah is strong because she helps make the apple cider.”I am strong. I can help.”

At Grade 6, add other character traits….

Suggestion: She said to show Step #3 with very little change from the prior grade level expectation. This helps! It helped me to see the difference from one grade to the next and I see how clearly it will be for the students, too! I left Day 1 motivated to immerse myself in ALL the progressions and have this guide my reading work this coming school year!

Time for gradual release! To offer strong support, Kelly gave our small group an envelop with a question from the Grade 4 Performance Assessment and the suggested response (this is found in Pathways). First she asked us to decide which was Grade 3, 4, 5, and 6.


Then she modeled how to use these responses to look at our jot from yesterday. Which is mine most like? NOW set a goal. Name what I need to do to move on the learning progression. NOW even try to echo write a revised post-it. I could do this!!

Then as a group, we picked different strands and Kelly gave us anchor chart paper and time to make a learning progression. If we got stuck, she reminded us to use the writing from the prior activity and echo write. My group created this chart related to the strand, Characters Response to Change.


Day 3 – Kelly walked us through a suggested way of giving the Performance Assessment. Give it on Day zero of the Unit. Then give it back to the class on Day 3 either scored already OR if teacher didn’t have time, for them to score with your guidance. But give it back on Day 3 so the students get quick feedback and can set a goal right away based on the reader they are right now.

Kelly modeled by saying:
Today I am giving the scored assessment back to you so you can set a goal. I will show you how I scored it. You will think about why your response got that score. Then you will set a goal. Use these questions:
* Which level does my work match?
* Am I missing any parts?
* What could I have done that I didn’t do?
Write your goal on a Post-it and add it to the Post-It Parking Lot:


Then Kelly emphasized how on Day 4 of the Unit, the teacher can use these goal jots to work with Small Groups for the next few days. (Using the Progressions to guide Small Group work is brilliant!! I can’t wait for school to start! Kelly has helped me plan it out my first unit so purposefully!)

Day 4 – Kelly modeled how to plan Read-alouds with the Learning Progressions in mind. Using a progression lens, her questions sounded so focused on strong reading work:

  • I wonder why the author decided to have Farah tell the story. We only see it from her perspective. Tell your partner what you think about this.
  • I’m learning so much about all the characters, so many details. What are you learning?
  • What does Farah really want? On the one hand….on the other hand…
  • How does this part fit with the other parts of the book? What is the bigger idea? Let’s carry that idea with us as we read on.
  • I know small actions can have a big meaning. What is this small part showing us?

Then after lots of practice, she pushed us to now be the teacher. On the page where they are drinking cider, she asked us to decide on the prompt for the Character Responds to Change. Use your progression chart and write a prompt for Grade 2 and for Grade 5.
Grade 2: How is Farah different here? How has she changed? How do we know?
Grade 5: What do you notice here? A shift seems to be happening inside her? Talk about it.

Kelly had us bring a read-aloud we would be using during the beginning of school and had us read it now using the lens of the Learning Progression to plan out a read-aloud. I loved having time to use what I was just taught! And I’m ready to read-aloud Come On, Rain! to my 3rd graders in September!

Last Day – Kelly asked us to DREAM BIG! If your classroom is ultimately the BEST independent reading classroom, what will you see. Jot down your response. I jotted:
My 3rd graders are lost in a book. Students do take time to respond to text and work with a partner, having strong conversations around the reading goals they have named.

Then Kelly shared lots of examples of reading notebook work and videos of kids talking about their reading work. Then she asked us to reflect on our take-aways. I wrote:
“My take-away is that I will use the performance assessment which will lead me to using the Learning Progressions for the first time with my 3rd graders in Arlington, VA. Together, we will co-author a rich, reading life!”

Thank you Kelly for an amazing week of learning. Truly Transformative!!
I also was glad to tell Kelly in person how wonderful the 3rd grade writing unit, Changing the World that she wrote, is. I shared where I wrote about it HERE with her. So glad I could give her positive feedback on the great unit she wrote!


NOTE: I will be posting my notes on Close-Reading of NF led by Kate Roberts, too as well as the other Keynotes and workshops. What a week!! I am always amazed at how much learning TCRWP can squeeze into one week!!



5 thoughts on “2016 TCRWP August Reading Institute

  1. Wow, Sally! You did an incredible job succinctly capturing the big ideas Kelly emphasized last week. For me, this learning is best summed up in a quote Kelly shared with us on Friday: “You can’t create what you can’t imagine.” I now have a vision not only for how this work will look with students, but how I can help teachers use the learning progressions most effectively. Again, I loved spending time & learning with you last week. Hope to see you in October!


    1. I love that quote!! It does sum up all she had us do. I so appreciate you working to ensure that we met and suggesting we take a photo! As we said, I’ll “see” you on Tuesdays and will be looking for you in person in October. Have a great opening of the school year!


  2. Hi Sally, reading your post makes me excited to work with students again! I love how your notes capture the steps that can help me give it a try, too. I’m happy you had a great week of learning!
    All the best!


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