One of the primary components of differentiated instruction is the need for constant and continual progress monitoring and assessment. Without knowing where our students are ‘at,’ we can not possible know how to instruction them. It’s a cycle.
But let’s face it, progress monitoring and assessing can be so B-O-R-I-N-G especially for 5 and 6 year olds. So my job is to make it fun. When it comes to nonsense word fluency, here’s how I do it.
My classroom is boy heavy (I think it’s been boy heavy for the last 5 years, but being a mom of three boys, I’m ok with that.) and, because of that, I am always looking for ways to get my little guys (and gals) moving. These little foamies that can be purchased at most dollar stores fits the ticket perfectly.
First of all, they are available for nearly every holiday and theme. These flower ones work perfectly for spring, but I also have eggs and pumpkins and gingerbread men. It’s amazing what little change in theme does for a student’s interest and engagement.
I simply write a number of different nonsense words on as many as 35 of these foamies and line them up in my classroom or down the hall.
My students LOVE saying the word (or the sounds if they haven’t quite mastered reading the word yet) and getting to hop to the next foamie. I always explain that this is a ‘beat our best score’ game. Students aren’t playing against each other. They play against their last number of words (or sounds) read in minute. We talk a lot about setting goals and making improvements to ourselves throughout the year, and I really believe that setting that standard of expectation from the beginning of the year helps.
I don’t hear a lot of banter about who got what back and forth, but I do hear ‘I improved by 2,’ or ‘I am going to get three more next time.’ Most importantly, they beg to ‘race the clock.’ They love it, and I get the best results you can imagine. I know where they are ‘at,’ who is improving but needs more practice, and who has mastered this skill and can move on.