I’ve got a golden ticket: How to address foundational gaps in reading with Florida Center for Reading Research resources

One of my all-time favorite movies is Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. If you’ve never seen it, I suggest you read the book by Roald Dahl, then watch the characters and candy come to life in the movie. (I’m a sucker for the 1970s version starring Gene Wilder. Can you hear Grandpa Joe singing, “I’ve got a golden ticket!”?)

If you’re not familiar with the story, here’s a brief synopsis: a golden ticket is the catalyst for an experience of a lifetime. It’s the key to the town’s magical chocolate factory, and once inside, down-on-his-luck grade-schooler Charlie and a few other young winners get to choose their own delectable adventures.

If you’re a MAP® Reading Fluency™ user, the assessment is designed to help you send your students on marvelous adventures, too. Literacy adventures, that is, and ones that don’t blow anyone up like a blueberry.

MAP Reading Fluency + Florida Center for Reading Research = a golden ticket for reading instruction

Good reading instruction requires lots of evidence-based practices and resources working synergistically. The Florida Center for Reading Research (FCRR) is an excellent place to turn. Chock-full of ready-made activities aligned to help remedy students’ skills gaps, it’s a free ticket to multiple destinations. And it’s a ticket made even more useful when paired with results from MAP Reading Fluency.

[MAP Reading Fluency reports] direct you to specific, aligned instructional activities from FCRR, making it super easy to take the next step in helping students work toward closing skill gaps.

MAP Reading Fluency assesses your students’ foundational reading skills, including oral reading fluency, with a single group administration that takes about 20 minutes. The Benchmark Matrix Report and Individual Student Report let you see each student’s zone of proximal development (ZPD) for phonological awareness and phonics. These reports also direct you to specific, aligned instructional activities from FCRR, making it super easy to take the next step in helping students work toward closing skill gaps. You can use these for small-group and individual instruction.

How MAP Reading Fluency saves you time

After your students have completed a MAP Reading Fluency assessment, the reports I mentioned earlier will include links to the appropriate FCRR activities. You can share these links or go directly to the activities and print them out. There’s no need to search the entire FCRR site because MAP Reading Fluency has done that work for you.

When I was a reading interventionist, my natural tendency was to immediately think about creating a binder with printed copies of all the activities so I could have them at my fingertips to use in small-group interventions. That isn’t necessarily a bad option, but before you dedicate hours of time at the copy machine, look at all the other binders on your shelves. How often do you use them? When you do reach for them, are you using them with clarity of purpose?

There’s no need to search the entire FCRR site because MAP Reading Fluency has done that work for you.

I loved my binders, so trust me—I get it. Every time I created one it felt like a golden ticket, but too often it just became a shiny foil wrapper for a bunch of resources that didn’t get the results I wanted for my students. I treated those binders as my curriculum, but the lack of structure and purpose led me and my students on a journey that ended much like Veruca’s most times: down the garbage chute.

4 tips for putting MAP Reading Fluency and FCRR activities to work

Throughout Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, we watch Charlie and Grandpa Joe reason and problem solve to avoid temptations and pitfalls that could have brought an unpleasant ending to their journey. Your challenge is to be like them. Let’s think beyond the binder and really utilize the power of these golden ticket resources!

I sincerely hope the tips below will help you address your students’ skill gaps quickly and efficiently so you can catch your breath for a minute.

  1. Create intervention groups using report data. If you sort your students under each assessment domain on the Benchmark Matrix Report, you’ll easily be able to see who shares the same ZPD levels and/or performance outcomes. The single FCRR activity link you’ll see will apply to all students with the same ZPD. Identify intervention groups? Check!
  2. Use activities in small groups with clear purpose and intention. There is value to using FCRR activities during small-group interventions. Just make sure your formative data supports the use of the activity with all students in the group. Use them intentionally and with a continuous plan for formative assessment around the targeted skill to ensure they are helping your students grow. For ideas on formative assessment strategies to try, read “27 easy formative assessment strategies for gathering evidence of student learning.”
  3. Seize the opportunity to collaborate. I encourage interventionists and special education teachers to use FCRR activities as a catalyst for collaboration. Classroom teachers in grades 3 and up don’t typically focus on teaching foundational skills to older readers, yet the unfinished learning created during COVID school closures has highlighted this as a critical need. Now is an excellent time to share FCRR activities with teachers of older grades and support Tier 1 classroom interventions.
  4. Build a bridge for a better home-school connection. Another great option is to help strengthen the home-school connection. You probably already encourage adults to read to and with their children to support language development and comprehension, and to model fluency and expression. What about when their child’s reading development seems stuck? Prevent them from having a Violet-like blowup by sharing user friendly, targeted interventions for them to practice at home. I recommend the following posts from Teach. Learn. Grow.: “Go, team: How parents and teachers can use Lexile measures to support young readers” and “To support reading at home, turn up the sound.” You can also create a demonstration video library families can access each time a new FCRR activity is sent home. (Feeling wary of technology? “Sharing resources with your school community and beyond” by our friends at Edutopia can help.)

A golden ticket is a game changer

Finding that golden ticket changed Charlie’s life. (Funny how something so seemingly incidental made such a big difference.) The FCRR activities included in MAP Reading Fluency reports can do that for you and your students, too. They are ready-made to help you close reading gaps and change students’ lives for the better. Here’s hoping they make this challenging school year a bit easier for everyone.

Brenda Windischman, professional learning consultant at NWEA, contributed to this post. Brenda is a 27-year veteran educator whose roles have included elementary classroom teacher, Title 1 reading and math interventionist, RTI specialist, and instructional coach. Brenda enjoys supporting other teachers’ efforts in improving data-driven responsive instruction through her work at NWEA.

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