14 Best Reading Practices  

Best Practice 1: Explicit Word Analysis Instruction, Including Phonics

Teachers provide explicit instruction, build word knowledge, and directly teach skills and strategies for word analysis (phonemic awareness, phonics, word recognition, structural analysis, context clues, vocabulary).

 

 

Best Practice 2: Assessment to Inform Instruction

Teachers routinely monitor and assess the reading levels and progress of individual students.  This ongoing evaluation directs and informs instruction.

 

 

Best Practice 3: Instructional Planning

Teachers plan instruction considering three phases: before, during and after reading.

 

 

Best Practice 4: Collaboration and Reflection

Teachers routinely self-reflect and collaborate on instructional practices and student progress within school and/or district.

 

 

Best Practice 5:   Learning Standards

Teachers facilitate conceptual knowledge of Illinois English Language Arts learning standards.

 

 

Best Practice 6: Independent Reading

Students have opportunities for sustained reading (oral and/or silent) every day to increase fluency and vocabulary.

 

 

Best Practice 7: Variety of Genre

Students have broad reading and writing experiences (multiple genre and styles).  Reading to students at all grade levels is part of this broad experience.

 

 

Best Practice 8: Appropriate Instructional Levels

Students have opportunities to read at their instructional level every day.

 

 

Best Practice 9: Reading for Purpose

Students have extensive opportunities to read for a variety of purposes and to apply what is read every day.  Discussion and writing are used by students to organize their thinking and they reflect on what they read for specific purposes.

 

 

Best Practice 10: Building Comprehension Skills and Strategies

Students are taught and given opportunities to apply the following comprehension strategies for constructing meaning:  making and confirming predictions, visualizing, summarizing, drawing inferences, making connections, and self-monitoring.

 

 

Best Practice 11:  Building Cognitive Skills and Strategies 

Students are taught and given opportunities to use cognitive strategies to synthesize, analyze, evaluate and make applications to authentic situations.

 

 

Best Practice 12: Integration

Reading and writing are integrated and used as tools to support learning in all curricular content areas.

 

 

Best Practice 13: Literacy Rich Environment

Literacy rich environments display words and print everywhere, provide opportunities and tools that engage students in reading and writing activities, and celebrate students’ reading and writing efforts.  Each classroom has an extensive collection of reading materials with a wide range of high-interest fiction and non-fiction books at developmentally appropriate reading levels which motivates and supports reading and writing.  The room design supports whole group, small group and individual instruction. 

 

 

Best Practice 14:  

School / Family / Community Partnerships

Families, communities, and schools collaborate to support literacy development of students at home and school.

 

School Audit of Reading Best Practices                 

 

    Purpose of the Audit: Through the Illinois Right to Read Initiative, the Best Practices and Resources Committee identified 14 best practices in reading (as listed in the first column below.)  School staff may use this audit sheet to examine current best practices in reading as another method of gathering information for the school improvement plan. 

 

    Suggestions for use: 1) Each teacher individually marks the items according to his/her perceptions of practices in all classrooms in the school and returns the audit sheet anonymously to either the principal or internal review team for tallying. 2) The internal review team uses the audit sheets when visiting each classroom and reaches a collective perspective about the use of these best practices throughout the school. 3) The results from the individual teachers and the collective perspective of the internal review team could be used separately or combined into a single report for the school as a whole to use as a point of discussion. 

 

    Audit Follow-Up: Practices that are identified as being most challenging and needing further emphasis could be incorporated into the school improvement plan.  Professional development experiences on particular practices could be offered.  Teachers could use the summary results of the audit to develop instructional practices in individual classrooms, at grade levels, and/or schoolwide.

 

    Directions:  Circle the number that indicates the use of this best practice schoolwide using the following rating scale:  4 – Fully evident in all classrooms

                       3 – Seen in some classrooms but not the majority

                       2 – Visible in a small number of classrooms

                       1 – Rarely seen in any classrooms

 

Best Practice

Rating

Possible Evidence

(What would the practice look like in the classroom?)

 

 1- Explicit and Systematic word Analysis Instruction, Including Phonics and Phonemic Awareness

4

3

2

1

Direct phonics instruction, word walls, word sorts, making words, manipulative letters, picture clues, songs, poems, rhymes

 2- Assessment to Inform Instruction

4

3

2

1

Running records, portfolios, Individual Reading Inventory (IRI), learning logs, anecdotal notes, response journals, rubrics

 3- Instructional Planning to Create Independence Through Student-Owned Strategies

4

3

2

1

KWL, integrated thematic units, anticipation guides, graphic organizers, journal reflections, mind maps

 4- Collaboration and Reflection

4

3

2

1

Shared planning time, mentoring, grade level meetings, multi-grade articulation, school-wide reading plan

 5- Learning  Standards

4

3

2

1

Effective and ongoing teacher inservice, standards posted in classrooms, students can articulate what they are learning, curriculum and instruction alignment to standards

 6- Independent Reading

4

3

2

1

Time devoted daily to sustained silent reading, books available at a variety of reading levels, take-home books, Reading Workshop

 7-Variety of Genre

4

3

2

1

Literature circles, integrated thematic units, teacher read-alouds, dramas, books on tape

 

 

Best Practice

Rating

Possible Evidence

(What would the practice look like in the classroom?)

 

 8- Appropriate Instructional Levels

4

3

2

1

Available leveled books for student choice, guided reading, paired/partner reading

 9- Reading for Purpose

4

3

2

1

Literature circles, Readers’ Workshop, Junior Great Books, journal writing, reading strategies evident in content area instruction

10-Building Comprehension Skills and Strategies

4

3

2

1

Mind maps, graphic organizers, summary/retelling, Question-Answer-Response (QAR), Socratic questioning

11- Building Cognitive Skills and Strategies

4

3

2

1

Writing response to text, reciprocal teaching, SQ3R, class newspaper, think-alouds

12- Integration

4

3

2

1

Integrated thematic units, peer conferencing, research projects, Author’s Chair

13- Literacy Rich Environment

4

3

2

1

Classroom libraries to include newspapers, magazines, leveled books with at least 15 books per student, displays of student work, environmental print, resource books, staffed school library, computers and software to support reading program

14- School/Family/ Community Partnerships

4

3

2

1

Guest readers, cross-age reading, at-home reading logs, business/community partnerships, family reading night, tutors, mentors

 

 

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