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Using Informal Assessments to Assess Reading Comprehension

written by: Kellie Hayden • edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch • updated: 2/8/2012

How do you know if your students understand their latest reading assignment? Or, better yet, did they actually complete the reading assignment? You can try these informal assessments for reading comprehension.

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    Using informal assessments for reading comprehension can be a simple and quick way to assess what students know. The assessments do not have to be laborious multiple choice tests or long short answer quizzes. They can be simple and fun.

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    Clickers and SMART Boards

    To assess students' knowledge, a teacher can create a game or download one using a SMART Board or interactive whiteboard. With the SMART Student Response System, students can use "clickers" to answer questions. The questions can be multiple choice or matching.

    It is a quick way to get a "read" on where the class stands on its learning. The computer grades the quizzes, and teachers have immediate feedback on the student's overall knowledge base. Plus, students really like using these gadgets.

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    Quick 5 W's

    Ask 5 W 

    Teachers can ask five simple questions to assess where the class stands in its comprehension of the reading assignment. Teachers can use the simple 5 W's: Who, What, Where, When and Why. Of course, for the SMART board, the teacher would need to come up with answers and distracters in advance for multiple choice options, but these 5 W's quizzes can be quick and simple with or without a SMART board.

    For example, if you are studying a novel, you could ask the students the following questions:

    • Who is the antagonist?
    • What is the major conflict in this reading section?
    • Where does the conflict in chapter five take place?
    • When is the climax?
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    Entrance or Exit Slips

    When you perform an informal reading assessment you can use scrap paper, half sheets of paper, note cards or Post Its. The small piece of paper is not overwhelming for students. Teachers can make the exit slips activity a part of the participation grade or a quiz grade.

    At the end of the class after a period of sustained silent reading or when students enter the classroom when a reading assignment has been assigned, the teacher can ask one to three of the following questions:

    • What are three important pieces of information that you learned from the reading assignment?
    • What was the setting of the reading assignment?
    • What conflict did the main characters face?
    • What was a theme in today's reading assignment? Why?
    • What is the main idea in today's assignment?
    • The most important thing I learned was__________ because_________.
    • My prediction for the main character is___________.
    • Summarize what you read in three sentences.


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    Class Discussion Tickets

    A good old fashioned class discussion can show that students comprehended what they read. To assess that students add to the discussion, they need to write their names on three pieces of paper or "tickets."

    In order to receive the top amount of participation points, students must participate in the discussion three times and deposit their ticket in a bowl or basket each time they participate. If teachers want to keep track of what each student added to the discussion, the student should write a keyword on the paper with his or her name.

    When teachers need to perform an informal assessment for reading comprehension, they can try using a SMART board and clickers, the 5 W's, Entrance or Exit Slips, and/or Class Discussion Tickets. These are all quick and simple ways to find out if your students read what they should have and if they understood the reading.

References

  • Examples of Informal Reading Assessments, http://www.readingrockets.org/article/3411
  • "Cool" Informal Reading Assessments, http://www.paec.org/itrk3/files/pdfs/readingpdfs/cooltoolsall.pdf
  • Reading Comprehension, http://www.ciera.org/library/presos/2002/2002csi/2002csisparis/02csisp.pdf
  • Photo Credit: Kellie Hayden