Classroom Environment Lesson Structure Assessment Sample Comprehension Lessons



Test scores and grades might show me who ‘gets it’ and who doesn’t, but they can never tell me why. Only my coaching conversations with students who are learning the habits of readers can unlock the mysteries of my students’ achievement – or lack thereof.” -Nancy Allison

Summative assessments (e.g. tests) measure whether our children are meeting various standards. But as teachers the main types of assessment that we need are formative – those that help us to support children in learning as we teach. Formative assessment is essential to help us provide effective immediate feedback, as well as guiding our planning for upcoming class lessons, small groups, or conferences. First, we need to determine student strengths and needs, and then decide how to use this information to help our students grow as strategic readers.

Assessing children’s thinking is tricky, for at least two reasons:

  • We are attempting to understand what is happening inside our students’ minds. This is difficult to do with people of any age. But it is particularly challenging because primary students’ capacities to express their thoughts in writing and even orally are just emerging.
  • It is challenging to learn what is important for us to notice about students’ work. There isn’t just one right way to use a strategy. We don’t have an answer key with one correct answer to guide us.

This section of the Reading Comprehension Module will briefly explore:

  • Formative assessment during the lesson – identifying students’ strengths and needs
  • Maximizing what we learn and the feedback we give during conferring
  • Analyzing student work after the lesson
  • Suggestions for evaluation and grades

Formative assessment is discussed in the Sample Comprehension Lesson for each comprehension strategy as it related specifically to that lesson.

PLC Facilitators: Click here for Facilitator Notes.

Reference: Allison, N. (2009). Middle School Readers. Heinemann, p. 110