What Did I learn from Sofia?
by Jana Bennett
In September we began the Year of Sofia. We talked about how Sofia tested in all four domains—listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Even though Sofia isn't an actual student, her story mirrors the many students for whom TELL is used to help progress monitor literacy skills. Her story is told through the eyes of her 2nd grade teacher, Susan Harris.
Last month we discussed Using TELL to Build Data Protocols.The plan is to review the TELL reports, and ask what we see in the data. This month we take the lessons learned from Sofia and apply them more broadly.
Feel free to tell your story in the comments below.
– Sue Ann Towle, Pearson
What Did I learn from Sofia?
I’m always concerned about how my kids are doing, and whether they are all making progress. Sofia and the other students may be in the same class, but not all my students are progressing at the same speed. The comparison report can group the students according to every proficiency level, which means I could see who are the high performing and lower performing students. It’s all about identifying how the students are progressing as individuals.
It helped when Tina came back from the district workshop where they talked about the “data protocols”. She taught me something new that really helped at this point in the school year. Tina found out that some of the other teachers are using TELL to compare the student’s progress. They can see how they compare to one another as a class. Tina suggested we could use that data to decide the best way to group the students and provide the most appropriate instruction. The reports made it clear as to which students are making good progress, and which students really belonged in the accelerated group.
This really helped us to decide what we needed to do to adjust the instruction for the accelerated students, make sure their work continued to be challenging, and keep them progressing at a faster pace. While Sofia was making great progress, TELL clearly showed that she was not one of the students in that high performing group. With this information, Tina and I decided that it would be a good idea to add a few students from the accelerated group into groups like the one Sofia was in. The approach is to have the higher performing students mentor their peers.
Speaking of reports, I met with Sofia's parents this morning during our spring conference. They were excited when I showed them her third progress monitoring test how she had moved into the Tier 2 yellow column. I then pointed out how well she compared to the rest of her class. Since Tina and I have decided to use the TELL comparison report to group the class according to performance, adding the accelerated students into the lower performing students, I told Sofia’s parents I would be choosing new materials for the kids to take home and read. Sofia’s parents asked if I could email a copy to them a few days early. They wanted to look at it first, and be prepared when they worked with Sofia. Helping Sofia learn English was also one of the ways they were learning.
It warms my heart to hear from parents that they want to receive the materials their child is learning to read in advance. I know they are making every effort to support their child as I am. It's a win-win for Sofia. I loved the idea and will use it from now on. It’s another lesson in teaching that comes from the parents of the students as well as the students themselves. Whether it’s Tina, the parents or the students themselves, I learned I always need to be open to using new and better ideas no matter where they come from.