At the beginning of the course, I wasn't aware of the many connections between several of my goals. The areas the goals concentrated on were assessment, standards, tracking student progress, differentiated instruction and assignments, and judging the effectiveness of lessons. After reflecting over the course goals, assignments, and class discussions, the interconnectedness of my goals is revealed. I also find that my understanding of literacy across the grade levels has been challenged and increased after collaborating with a team of diverse educators.

The major determining factors for student success seem to begin with knowing and continually learning about students and having an awareness of the scope and sequence of curriculum and the standards that support it. Learning who the students are, meaning determining what is important to each individual, what they enjoy, hope for, find frustrating, lack confidence in, and other factors that can potentially affect their academic progress, begins from day one of school, and should periodically be reassessed throughout the remainder of the year. This knowledge allows the teacher to meet students where they are, and hopefully help them reach a higher level of literacy understanding. This awareness is, perhaps, more important than the role of national and state standards.

I’m learning to better appreciate and understand the role of such standards, especially the common core standards that many states have adopted. They serve as a helpful guide, allowing educators to determine areas for teaching and outcomes for student learning. This resource is an attempt to allow students to be on the same “page” no matter where their learning takes place, which is important, especially for the more transient population of students. Though there are several positive outcomes by adopting and using standards, they should be secondary to what a student is capable of and ready for. The incredible pressure to perform at levels unprepared for will, undoubtedly, discourage and perhaps deter student achievement and growth. With student backgrounds and learning standards as the center or point from which all teaching and assessment stems from, the remainder of my goals are more readily reached.

Daily ongoing assessments allow for many things, such as differentiation and evidence of student progress. It can also reflect the effectiveness of lessons. Knowing what to look for is the key, and this stems from learning outcomes and/or goals considered when planning. In agreement with Allen (2000) one of the most powerful assessments in reading comes from what students do during independent reading (p. 101). It is the perfect opportunity to determine if students have, indeed, internalized important reading strategies and skills.

Another area of concern was tackling a multileveled class through differentiation, which has become less of a daunting task. Throughout the various modules, modes of instruction, from read aloud to guided reading, have come to lend themselves to differentiation, first by providing strategies for student readers to use and internalize, then by creating opportunities for teachers to pull those who may need more scaffolds.

I leave this course still wanting to know more about the different kinds of assessments available to teachers, especially those that lend themselves to quick formative assessments. I continue to be interested in how to best track student progress over time. Though I have built upon and become more confident in literacy theory, the true test comes when I return to the classroom and put theory into practice.