Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Sad, Reflecting, and Joy {Slice of Life}

Today I was lucky to sit with every child one on one and conduct the DRA - Developmental Reading Assessment.  I felt joy.  I've used this tool for all twenty some years I've been teaching and today I did it with sadness.  These stories, format, and questions have been my guide and friend for getting to know readers and figure out what they need instructionally.  

Today I found myself reflecting in-between meeting with students.  

I was fortunate enough to use the DRA when it was in the "beta" stages in my very first school district.  I was fortunate enough to teach next door to some of the original writers.  I was fortunate enough to use the tool before it was tweaked and refined for mass production.  

I stared at the four titles for level 28 and found myself wondering if the new tool coming offered students book choice.  Choice is important and offers insight about our readers.  I was amazed today when not 1 out of 16 picked the story about peanuts to peanut butter.  I was excited to see what students wanted to read about service animals and picked a nonfiction text over a fictional story.  Then it was interesting to see who wanted to read about a family moving and their pet cat or a skunk who thought she was beautiful.  It was interesting to see gender didn't really play a role in one story over another.  

I love the fluency piece of this assessment.  It's a real story.  It's a reasonable amount of words and a reasonable expectation for my readers.  It eases my mind.  

All of this good thinking was thought with sadness.  My building principal has held strong to using the DRA for years.  I'm not sure why we are changing.  Other buildings in my district have already changed.  It seems a bit odd it's not consistent across the district, maybe they are doing the change for consistency. I appreciated staying with the DRA because I love it.  It's easy to love things we are born and raised on.  It always feels like going home when I pull out my crate.  Maybe this crate is more about doing what's right for students and reminds me of a place and time when things were brighter, maybe easier, and maybe more enjoyable with less stress.  As I did my DRAs today - life did seem easier, more enjoyable and less stressed.  I also decided my crate doesn't have to go anywhere.  I might still need it to double check something next year.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.


  1. I love how you dealt with ambiguity in this piece. I could feel the push and pull. It's always good to have multiple assessment tools handy! I say, keep it!

  2. I like the simplicity of this observation -- "It's easy to love things we are born and raised on." -- side by side with the more complex reflecting and feeling in this slice.

  3. Your craft moves in this piece add to the emotional feel of it--the repetition, patterns of three, and changing up of sentences length work really well for us to feel your ambiguity. And the whole assessment debate is a huge one, for sure!

  4. Agreed! Comfort is always good. Questioning the tool and reflecting on what works is essential to moving forward. I like your idea of keeping the crate around, just in case. I'm curious what assessment you will be using in the future? (Fountas & Pinnell? Something else?) :)

    1. We are moving to Fountas and Pinnell. According to DRA writers, it has similar features. A year ago the DRA was talking about revisions and an update but I haven't heard any follow up on that idea. I'd love to see what they would do!

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