Instructional and Assessment Design Strategies


When working with our young readers, the way we design our instruction and assessment has a significant impact on the development of proficiency. Without a doubt, the strategies that we implement in our planning and development will need to be based on assessed student need, interest, and of course, within the context of universal design and differentiated instruction. Our theoretical foundations, including theories of exceptionality will affect how we adapt our programs and have a particularly significant impact on how our diverse learners become better readers.


Cross-curricular instruction, using real-life experiences, and personal interests all become part of our action plans for supporting struggling readers. However, we also need to ensure that we are using evidence-based practices to create learning environments that reflect the ethical standards of our profession. Our instructional and assessment strategies are proven to support struggling readers, including students who are English Language Learners (ELL).


The following Instructional and Assessment Strategies are essential to supporting struggling readers, including ELL readers. How you design and implement these strategies for your own instruction and assessment needs, will reflect your own contexts and learning environments. In addition, these strategies work best when implemented in a safe and supportive learning environment that contributes to the equity of reading outcomes for all students.


They are based on Information from the Edugains Website:

Please keep in mind that there are multiple forms of assessment that can be used in reading, and Language Learning is developmental. It involves experimentation and approximation. You need to trust your professional judgement, and seek out professional consultation where necessary. Collaboration and moderation is key to providing reliable instructional and assessment methods.


Instructional Strategies:


  1. A lot of pre-reading discussion
  2. Graphic organizers before, during and after reading
  3. Scaffolding comprehension texts – preview and discuss text features first
  4. Daily read-alouds and think alouds with a variety of media and texts
  5. Opportunities to make predictions and disucss in shared reading
  6. Explicitly teaching semantic, syntactic and graphophonic cueing systems
  7. Language-experience texts
  8. Subject-specific and cross-curricular reading materials
  9. Time for students to read each day
  10. Help students choose the just right book
  11. Small group work with English speaking peers
  12. Anticipation guides to assess pre-reading beliefs
  13. Make predictions in pre-reading based on visuals
  14. Make preditions based on first sentence, first paragraph, key text
  15. Adopt roles of different characters while reading Readers Theater Texts
  16. Create a story map or timeline as a visual representation of main features of the story
  17. Introduce music, chants, poems etc. to reinforce expressions and patterned speech. Keep a collection of them for re-reading.
  18. Read first language or dual-reading books
  19. Model how to skim and scan texts for pre-reading
  20. Jigsaw reading where each student becomes and expert on one section of reading and then shares
  21. Literature circles for opportunities for a student to share about a book
  22. Deepen understanding of text by taking on role of character in the hot seat

I am sure that you already have key design ideas for incorporating more cross-curricular connections as well.



Possible Assessment Strategies:



  • Portfolios: Help students to see progress over time, recognize quality work and share with parents.
  • Create Goal-setting checklists
  • Opportunities for assessment for, as and of learning
  • Provide assessment in students first language if necessary – access experts for that
  • Use effective rubrics, but provide differentiated opportunities for students to express their comprehension, decoding, metacognition orally and in writing
  • Google Forms for Assessment:
    1. When I run guided reading groups, I also like to fill out google forms. I change them based on the expectations / skills I am looking at. But the most important thing that comes of this are the anecdotal comments I make. I end up with amazing spreadsheets of comments that I am able to find patterns with. It is also amazing at how often I forget the nuances, but then can achieve a much clearer picture:)


How do you take your reading strategies and design your Instruction and Assessment to improve reading skills?



Deborah McCallum

c 2015



One response to “Instructional and Assessment Design Strategies”

  1. […] When working with our young readers, the way we design our instruction and assessment has a significant impact on the development of proficiency.  […]


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