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Reading Assessments: 2 Effective Ways to Measure Reading Engagement

Inside: Two free reading assessments & strategies to ensure reading engagement.

As I was making plans for my reading groups, I felt some nagging thoughts in the back of my mind.

What about the rest of the students?

How can I ensure that they are using their time in a way that will help them grow as readers?

Do they have the right books? Are they actually reading?

I know my time is best spent with my reading groups. Not refocusing students, policing fake readers, or taking away toys that somehow made it out of our indoor recess closet.

After many years of trial and error, I have learned how to assess and address my students who may take away from my valuable reading group time.

Learning the Hard Way

I used to think that it would be best to simply ignore fake reading behaviors and focus my energy on my small groups. However, I couldn’t help but notice students who were doing everything but reading. I was worried that I was not being as effective as I could be.

These kinds of worries caused problems.

  • I was frustrated.
  • My students were distracted during our small group activities.
  • I was constantly debating about getting up and setting those kids straight.

I knew I needed to find solutions and implement strategies to ensure that all my readers stayed on track.

After over 30 years of teaching, I have found two reading assessments to be tried and true when it comes to giving me the answers I need to increase reading engagement.

“Without engagement, you’ve got nothing.”

Jennifer Serravallo

Why Focus on Reading Engagement?

Reading engagement goes way beyond reading the words on a page. I learned that students who master reading engagement reap many benefits. They can:

  • Visualize to get a clear picture in their head
  • Ask questions that arouse curiosity
  • Make connections that add meaning to their reading
  • Become eager to share their thoughts with others.

I found two effective reading assessments to set up students for success.

  1. Reading Interest Inventory: A reading interest inventory allows you to gather information about students’ preferred genres, topics, or authors. This information can guide you in selecting books your students will devour.

  2. Reading Engagement Inventory: A reading engagement inventory helps you observe and record the reading behaviors that students exhibit during independent reading time. In other words: expose all the fake readers.

These reading assessments help you create a reading environment where students have their eyes, ears, and imagination focused on the book in front of them.

Bonus: Keep reading to find out how you can get both of these assessments (and more) for free!

It is important to use reading assessments to make sure your students are actually reading like these girls are.
These two girls have it right! Photo by Weedezign

Reading Assessments: What do students want to read?

Whether you are using decodables or leveled books, learning about what excites your readers can put them on the path toward a lifelong love of reading!

Reading Interest Inventories are a great way to fill your students' book bins with books they love!

Reading Interest Inventory

A reading interest inventory is a questionnaire or survey that gathers information about students’ personal reading preferences and interests.

This will allow for more smiles and fewer grumbles as you help students fill their book bins.

Reading Assessments: Who is actually reading?

Monitoring and assessing your students’ reading habits and engagement can lead to happy readers. You can use the information to help organize reading conferences and reading groups to address any concerns.

A reading engagement inventory can help you seek out all the fake readers

Reading Engagement Inventory

A reading engagement inventory is a way to monitor which students are focused on their reading.

Here’s how it works:

  1. List students’ names in the first column.
  2. Observe students and code their behaviors.
  3. Analyze data to form small groups.

From an Expert

To learn about reading engagement inventories in detail, check out Jennifer Serravallo’s book, The Literacy Teacher’s Playbook. She shares reading engagement inventories in action and so much more!

Which behaviors should you track? That is up to you, but here are some suggestions:

  • On task
  • Looking around
  • Reacting to text
  • Chatting
  • Sharing book with a friend
This book includes a reading engagement inventory as well as a wide variety of resources that will help any reading teacher!

Consider This

  • If you have an instructional coach or student teacher available, they could complete the survey while you work with a small group.
  • The codes are editable, so make them meaningful to you.
  • Make sure to check out the free resources at the end of this post for those students who need some extra coaching.
The Reading Engagement Inventory is designed to catch everyone.  There is no hiding!
Make sure to catch everyone! Photo by Samuel B.

Being More Confident

Now when I sit down to plan my reading groups, I feel confident that my other students are engaged in books they love!

Combining the reading interest inventory with assessments that address phonics, fluency and comprehension skills gives you a comprehensive picture of which books are best for your students.

After giving the reading engagement inventory, I’m able to address the needs of students who need extra help in this area. Small group activities and prompts give me the piece of mind I need to send my young readers off and know that they will actually read (and enjoy it!)

Are You Ready?

Now that you know about these two valuable reading assessments, go ahead and have my free Reading Engagement Bundle sent straight to your inbox!

Here’s what’s included:

  • A reading interest inventory – No more guessing which books your students will love
  • An engagement inventory – Find the sneaky fake readers
  • Five small group lessons – Dive deep and give your students a purpose for reading
  • 12 prompts to get your students back on track in a snap

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Teaching blogger for elementary teachers

Mary Wingert, licensed educator (K-12 Special Ed. & 1-8 General Ed)

I started teaching in 1993.   I have taught special education, fifth grade, and fourth grade.  I moved to second grade in 2015, and I am still there today.  

I believe in teaching strategies that are effective, differentiated, and engaging. I am looking forward to building a community of teachers who feels the same!  Read more here.