Thursday, October 29, 2015

Why Use Fountas and Pinnell's Benchmark Assessment System in the Elementary Classroom: FAQs

As teachers across our Grasslands Public School district complete the Benchmark Assessment System with their students in grades 1 to 6, many questions arise that point to "why?" and "how?" do we use this tool as formative assessment. This post is an attempt to bring some clarification to some of these questions, but please contact me if you'd like additional assistance with your current group of students BAS results.

The Benchmark Assessment System was designed to assist teachers with teaching as a formative assessment tool. More information about the BAS can be found by clicking here. 

  1. What are M, S, V? These are the three cueing systems that any reader (you included) uses to comprehend a text. By analyzing the errors and self corrections a student makes on the reading record, a teacher can determine which patterns emerge, and therefore which Teaching Prompt to use from the Fountas and Pinnell Prompting Guide Part 1 or Part 2 during guided reading instruction. For example, when a student reads, they may only regularly use two of the three sources of information (perhaps M and S but not enough Visual cues). During guided reading the teacher can then guide the student by prompting "You (student) said _____. That makes sense and sounds right, but it doesn't look like the word printed here. Let's take a closer look and run your finger under these letters of this tricky word. "
  2. Should I be analyzing every reading record? No! There is little point in analyzing the reading record of a student's independent text level, where the reading is mostly accurate, nor is there much point in analyzing a hard text level record where processing has broken down. It is important to analyze a student's instruction level text using MSV to make a hypothesis about what strategic actions the student is currently able to use or is beginning to use in their zone of proximal development.  If you are new to analyzing reading records, then start with a student in your class who's reading causes you to wonder, perhaps because they are below grade level or you have concerns over their reading abilities. Analyze that student's instructional level text from the BAS and see which patterns emerge that you can address in the classroom. 
  3. Where can I find more information about analyzing Reading Records? The Professional Development DVD located inside the BAS system 1 and system 2 boxes contains a section labelled "Scoring and Analyzing" under the "Tutorial" section. You can also view an entire module on the Ontario Ministry of Education's eWorkshop by following this Running Records Module LINK . Please note the difference between a running record and a reading record is that a reading record has the printed text and is specific to a particular text, whereas a running record can be used with any book to check accuracy, and comprehension.
  4. Where can I find more teaching prompts to use once I've identified patterns on a reading record? The Fountas and Pinnell Prompting Guide part 1 and part 2 are two professional texts that are found within the LLI systems in our school division. You can also purchase your own copy for approximately $30 or can download the Fountas and Pinnell Prompting Guide app for iPads or iPhones for less than $12. 

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