At the beginning of this school year, I was starting my second go-around with reader’s workshop, a model of instruction that just feels too good to be true every single day. However, over the previous year, I hadn’t nailed down any great way to organize my data for reader’s workshop. It was this looming bit of “uh-oh” over my head as I began this year.
I had tried several online resources for collecting data. I was not a huge fan of relying on the school Internet connection and technology every day to gather data from conferring with students. The web platforms I tried out were not ones that I fell in love with using. I tried one of my tried-and-true practices of taping index cards to a clipboard to take notes on, but the room on those little cards was limited and I couldn’t easily function with this setup.
I spent many weeks thinking about what the “perfect” data collection binder would look like for me. I needed a reading conference log, a page for strategy lessons I had taught to groups of students, and a place to keep assessment data easily accessible. I sketched out what I needed. I erased those sketches and tried out other designs. I crumpled those up and tried other means of organizing my thinking. It was quite disastrous. But this story has a happy ending.
It hit me. I had a vision of the tools I needed to gather great data. I had seen a binding system I was greatly interested in utilizing. I was making gains in my own knowledge of reader’s workshop that made conferring clearer to me as an educator. I was just needing space to write down my observations and thoughts about the readers in my classroom. Thus, a star was born!
INTRODUCING THE READING WORKSHOP DATA BINDER (EDITABLE)
(Reader, proceed with warning…this may overly excite you!)
Page Type Zero: ADORABLE WATERCOLOR COVERS AND MATCHING BACK COVERS!
Need I say more about these? TOO CUTE (and editable…insert your name and the school year)! I printed my cover out on card stock, laminated it, and BOOM ready to go!
Page Type One: Student Assessment Data
These data sheets were a priority for me. I needed a place I could quickly consult to compare my students’ “trimesterly” assessment data (I know…that’s not a word). These data sheets have a space for typing or writing your students’ names, assessment types, and scores. They are available in trimester or quarter reporting formats and have spaces for two or three assessment types.
Page Type Two: Record of Reading Conferences
This page was huge for me in planning reading conferences and targeting students’ who needed more or fewer conferences with me throughout the week. On this page, there is a space to type or write students’ names and the dates on which you conferred with them or met in a strategy group with them. So simple and useful!
Page Type Three: Conference Notes
Imagine this: one place to write and store your reading conference notes in an organized fashion as you confer with students. NOW IT’S POSSIBLE! These conference notes sheets are amazing! There are many options to use. My go-to is the option with 12 boxes, a place to write the date, and a place to write a possible goal for the student. At the top of each page, you can type or write your students’ names. Each student gets their own conference notes page. This page is where I infer many of my student’s needs in terms of strategy lessons. I use these notes to flexibly group students who need similar strategy lessons. I use these notes to connect back to my last conference with a student and follow-up on anything I told him or her I was going to check-in on next time I conferred with him or her. This page is where gold is written and stored.
*Spoiler alert: the binding system I use which is described in greater detail at the end of this post makes it TOO EASY to pull conference notes pages out from my binder as I completely fill them in, place them in the students’ files in my cabinet, and replace the page with a blank copy. ORGANIZATION!*
Page Type Four: Goals-based Strategy Lesson Notes
The final page type is the Goals-based Strategy Lesson notes page. On this page, and there are two options, is where differentiation and follow-ups are planned for strategy group lessons. Each student gets a Goals-based Strategy Lesson page. I put this pages right behind each student’s Conference Notes page. On this page, the teacher uses the goal set for each student from reading conference observations to plan out and formatively assess focused strategy lessons. At the top of the box, there is a space to name the strategy that the student is working on. There are six boxes with a space for the date for the teacher (or the student) to name or sketch the strategy lesson taught. (Remember, if you use this binding system, you can pull a student’s Goals-based Strategy Lesson page out of your binder, hand it to them to fill in, and then pop it back into your binder). After each strategy lesson, the teacher then follows-up with the student (in a small group, partnership, or individually) and rates how well the student is employing the strategy using the scale at the bottom of the Goals-based Strategy Lesson page. It’s also useful, after you’ve taught the student six strategy lessons based on the student’s goal, to copy this page and give your student a copy to keep in her or his book box.
I greatly rely on Jennifer Serravallo’s “The Reading Strategies Book” to find focused, meaningful, purposeful strategy lessons to teach my small groups. If there are not enough strategy lessons to anchor my teaching in this book, I often find what I’m looking for through Pinterest or Instagram and make it my own!
Page Type Five: Up to You!
To make this reading data binder work REALLY PERFECTLY for me in the framework of my school, I have added some pages from Lucy Calkins’ “Units of Study” (like the Text Band Complexity Cheat Sheet from Reading Pathways) to help me set goals for my students and help me focus on what my student’s need to progress to the next level of reading. Using the binding system below, you can print and add pages that suit you and your needs as a teacher. Have a sheet for reading goals at each Fountas & Pinnell level? Have a list of competencies your students need to master by the end of your grade level? Have a DRA suggested focuses page or STAR Assessment lesson that you want to use? Put it in your customized and editable reading data binder!
Now, onto the BINDING SYSTEM!
This binding system is a worker of miracles. I firmly believe this is one of the best purchases I made this school year. It is the “me & my BIG ideas Happy Planner Punch!” This hole punch works with rings that allow you to pull pages out of the binding, put them back in, and replace them with EASE (and without ripping any paper or taking the binding apart). This binding system works so well for me because when I complete a page in the binder, I can remove it and file it away in my own data file or in a student’s file. I can then replace the page with a blank copy and continue to use my reading conference binder. This system just works SO well. I highly, highly recommend it.
I buy the rings to hold my pages together at Staples. I prefer the Arc brand metal rings but there are also plastic rings that are significantly more cost effective. It really just depends on the look you want!