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If you are privy to the standardized test data in your school (and I
hope that you insist that you be if you aren't), what are the most
common deficits you are finding among your students and what grade
level are you seeing that deficit?

For instance, in NY, the 5th grade teams I worked with this summer
were seeing an inability to identify main idea and supporting details
and to make effective use of graphic organizers.  Folks in NJ this
month had several elementary grades unable to identify the "mood" of
a piece of writing.  Again in NY, high school social studies students
were struggling with several constructed response questions on the
Regents (though I am not remembering the particular content of the questions).

Would you be willing to share those areas (anywhere in the curriculum
at all grades) where your students are showing deficits?


I was part of the planning team in Sept 07 who reviewed the test 
results and ID strategies for each grade level.  I worked with grade 
4 regarding reading and language arts.

These areas were low test scores
Inferencing skills
Info accessing skills
Figurative langage skills
Parts of speech

Our recommendations were:
Specific vocabulary skills lessons
Exposure to rich children's literature including poetry
Content connected research projects

I have collaborated and included library activities including:
US states research
info sources scavenger hunts
storytimes related to literary elements, figurative language and 
tales from world cultures
Our collection is excellent regarding rich children's literature and 
students have plenty of library access and free reading time.

Classroom teachers are using:
oral poetry recitation experiences
reader's theatre
science fair that included Big 6 elements

I am currently planning to conduct two research units over the next 3 months -
Pirate Research
Biography projects including the use of Biography Hash

In Sept our faculty met during Site Improvement Day and worked in 
small groups to determine our needs for Rdg/LA and Math test 
deficits.  We used large sheets of paper to list deficits and write 
our recommendations, then we presented our ideas to each other.  I 
like the way these sheets are posted in our lounge all year.  Since I 
work with all grade levels I often read these pages while my lunch 
heats up or I wait for the coffee to brew.  I get many of my general 
storytime session ideas from reading these sheets.  My current 6th 
grade project includes a Math connection using currency exchange 
rates students have found to learn more about ratios.  This was 
listed as a 6th grade math deficit, and the S.St. teacher and I 
shared with the Math teacher so she could connect to our project.

Sadly, across the district Info Accessing skills scored terribly at 
the 3rd, 5th, and 8th grades.  The LMSs discussed these problems and 
as a group we are trying to make sure we provide more 
instruction.  We also realize that there are only 2-4 test items 
covering Info Access, so we take the scores with a grain of 
salt.  The reality is that our public ed model doesn't provide enough 
time or experience to really gain good info accessing 
skills.  Practice, practice, practice is needed, but students don't 
get enough time with the skills.
Lisa Hunt, NBCT 2005
School Library Media Specialist
Apple Creek Elementary
Moore, OK

Well, we had the state monitors come visit our school because Last 
Year's class of third graders managed to pass all but one of 40 
indicators. The indicator they were behind was POETRY. The state sent 
12 monitors to examine every aspect of our school from curriculum to 
staff to recess....well, you get the idea.

Our 3, 4, and 5 grade students have the hardest time with inference / 
implied meaning.

Ours is annually the same thing for 3rd-5th:
Main idea and inference
The two go hand in hand since main idea is almost always inferred and 
the other choices are supporting details which are stated or paraphrased.

We also work on which part of the passage has the main idea 
targetted. Is it the whole passage, a section, a paragraph. What are 
they asking for?

I have found poetry works very well for inference lessons. But I have 
also used portions of nonfiction picture books.

Third grade also has difficulty with identifying the title of the 
publication as opposed to the title of the article or passage. If it 
is a copy of an inside page of a publication, the publication title 
is small at the top or the bottom with the passage title prominent at the top.

Teachers and I meet, sometimes informally, to discuss the areas of 
student need after their benchmark testing on state criteria. They 
suggest lesson areas of need related to literature.

Main idea, since it is inferred, is a difficult concept and is 
mentioned each year. I teach main idea and inference library lessons 
using current children's literature, usually picture books from the 
current or a recent Texas Bluebonnet award nominee list of titles.

I first introduce main idea with a scenario about a fictional outing 
with their teacher where we ate Fletcher's corny dogs, rode a 
gigantic ferris wheel, saw a night parade, and checked out Big Tex. 
Then I ask for the main idea. If they use all clues, they figure out 
that we went to the State Fair of Texas as opposed to some other 
carnival or entertainment venue. From there we discuss main idea and 
define inference as unstated.  Using one poem at a time or one page 
of nonfiction text, I sometimes develop multiple choice answers and 
they choose an answer and must defend their choice. They must also 
defend the choices not selected, their thinking on eliminating them. 
Other times they verbally tell me the main idea and supporting 
details. Both require extensive oral discussion with me guiding and 
the students answering and defending. All students take turns 
answering, with a tremendous amount of scaffolding for those who find 
this most difficult.  As they think through to select the main idea, 
I remind them that they are looking for the State Fair, not the corny 
dog even if there is a significant amount of detail for the corny dog.

With a nonfiction passage, we will even go sentence by sentence and 
count how many support their choice. That seems to turn on the light 
bulbs although it is very time consuming.

As of this year, teachers are to remain for library lessons so they 
hear the examples and strategies I am using.

I'm on the building Reading Committee and only know about that. I do 
know that one of our big areas of concern is with Informational 
Text...this is for 4th grade and from the WASL (Washington Assessment 
of Student Learning), the BIG testing stuff. We don't do any other 
standardized testing except the WASL now.

Anyway, Informational text is one of the big problems. Collaboration 
is still a struggling entity in our building but I am trying to 
address this with more non-fiction based activities for my classes 
during their library time. We are doing more online activities, not 
any higher order thinking skills, but practical, what is the answer 
to this question and reading to find out that answer. I am able to 
take the 4th graders into the computer lab and we use World Book 
online or Culture Grams to find information on a given topic. We have 
also completed worksheets in both 3rd and 4th grade using timelines. 
(Just did one with 3rd grade on MLK...many were having trouble just 
distinguiishing the difference between 'when' and 'where'....need to 
talk to the teachers about that). We are also an AR school and I am 
really encouraging the 3rd and 4th graders to take quizzes on non 
fiction books as NF quizzes are so different that fiction...must read 
for facts and read all of the features of text instead of just reading a story.

Toni Buzzeo, MA, MLIS <>
Maine Library Media Specialist of the Year Emerita
Maine Association of School Libraries Board Member
Buxton, ME 04093
Collaborating to Meet Standards: Teacher/Librarian Partnerships for 
K-6  Second Edition (Linworth 2007) BRAND NEW!
Collaborating to Meet Literacy Standards: Teacher/Librarian 
Partnerships for K-2 (Linworth 2006)
Read! Perform! Learn!  10 Reader's Theater Projects for Literacy 
Enhancement (Upstart 2006)
Toni Buzzeo and YOU (Libraries Unlimited 2005)
Collaborating to Meet Standards: Teacher/Librarian Partnerships for 
7-12 (Linworth 2002)
Terrific Connections with Authors, Illustrators, and Storytellers 
(Libraries Unlimited 1999)
Read! Perform! Learn! Two: 10 More Reader's Theater Projects for 
Literacy Enhancement (Upstart 2007) BRAND NEW!
The Collaboration Handbook (Linworth 2008) FORTHCOMING
ABC Read to Me: Teaching Letter of the Week in the Library (Upstart 
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Fire Up with Reading: A Mrs. Skorupski Story, illustrated by Sachiko 
Yoshikawa (Upstart 2007) BRAND NEW!
Our Librarian Won't Tell Us ANYTHING! A Mrs. Skorupski Story, 
illustrated by Sachiko Yoshikawa (Upstart 2006)
Ready or Not, Dawdle Duckling, illustrated by Margaret Spengler (Dial 2005)
Little Loon and Papa, illustrated by Margaret Spengler (Dial 2004)
Dawdle Duckling, illustrated by Margaret Spengler (Dial 2003)
The Sea Chest, illustrated by Mary GrandPre (Dial 2002)
R is for Research, illustrated by Nicole Wong (Upstart 2008) FORTHCOMING
The Library Doors, illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott (Upstart 
The Great Dewey Hunt: A Mrs. Skorupski Story, illustrated by Sachiko 
Yoshikawa (Upstart 2009) FORTHCOMING
Adventure Girl Goes to Work , illustrated by Amy Wummer (Dial 2009) FORTHCOMING
A Lighthouse Christmas, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter (Dial 2009) FORTHCOMING
No T. Rex in the Library, illustrated by Sachiko Yoshikawa (McElderry 
Adventure Girl Goes to Kindergarten, illustrated by Amy Wummer (Dial 

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