That's a Wrap! Closing Out the School Year

It's May here in the Sonoran Desert, which means the air conditioners are clocking in overtime hours, state testing is finished, and summer is quickly approaching. Our school calendar runs from early August to late May, so as I write this our end-of-year countdown has reached the single digits. This means I'm gearing up to wind down the year, celebrate students' achievements, and say goodbye to another great group of READ 180 all-stars!

Preparing to Administer the Final Reading Inventory

Our year, like yours, started with the workshop Getting Started. This workshop was a great way to introduce READ 180 and help students prepare to work hard and face challenges, since it highlights the importance of effort and having a growth mindset. So, it made since to utilize this conversation of the concepts taught in this workshop, particularly growth mindset, as we conclude our time together. By May, my students are burned out from all of the testing they've recently endured. They were none too happy with me when I reminded them they had to take the Reading Inventory again. When they learned their test date, I was met with a slew of complaints, grumbles, and "I can't" statements. In order to help them shift to a more positive mindset, together we opened our books and looked at the What's Your Mindset Quiz they took in Getting Started Lesson 3. We talked about what might have happened if Sonia Sotomayor, J.K. Rowling, or Michael Jordan had given up instead of persevering and achieving greatness like we saw in the video in Getting Started Lesson 4. We did mindful breathing exercises, and reviewed our goals for the test using the goal tracking sheet they have been filling in all year. When I was confident they had erased the majority of their negative feelings about testing, they tested. One of the breathing exercises I particularly like to do with students is called Box Breathing. For Box Breathing, inhale for the count of five, hold your breath for the count of five, exhale for five, and pause for the count of five before inhaling again. It's helpful to draw a square, or box, on the board so students have a visual aid such as this:

One of my favorite things about HMH Teacher Central is the data. I love data, and looking at charts and graphs makes me practically giddy! I maybe should have been a statistician, except I have a math holdup that stems from when I was in the third grade, which is an entirely different topic we can discuss in a future post. When I discussed their Lexile scores with students, I tried to highlight their strengths and effort in conjunction with the numerical score associated with their growth. I asked students what READ 180 accomplishment they were most proud of from our year together. Some students said they were proud they met their books read goal, some said they were proud they persevered and finished a difficult workshop, and other said they were proud they put forth their best effort this year. We looked at the graph showing their scores over the year, and talked about their growth over time as well; some students showed a lot of growth on their test in February, but dipped on this most recent one. I felt it was important to show them the big picture, so they realize they have accomplished a lot over the course of our year together, whether their May Lexile test showed that or not. I encouraged students who did not meet their Lexile growth goal to think about everything we had done together, to help them feel less discouraged about the number on the screen.

 But I digress; back to the data! HMH Teacher Central offers so many great ways to view the data, and I am especially excited to get results almost instantly because it gives me the ability to have in-the-moment conversations with students about their scores.

Data from a 4th grade student, showing no growth 


Data from a fifth grade student, second year in READ 180, showing growth and proficiency


After my students tested, they logged off and we pulled their report together. We talked about their starting score and their current score, and looked at how much they grew or, in some cases, did not show growth on the test. I am always careful to tell them that they may not have made their growth goal, but they worked hard in class and should be proud of the effort they put forth.

Helping Students Overcome the Disappointment of Low/No Growth

Some of my students were really upset that they did not show growth on their Reading Inventory. We looked at their report together in HMH Teacher Central, then looked at this page from Getting Started Lesson 4 together. We talked about what it means to overcome a challenge, and how they may not have scored as well as they wanted, but that they should not give up on reading or believe they are incapable of greatness. I particularly focused on this from number 3, "To them, failure is a challenge to overcome."

I asked them to think of a time they did not give up on something and ended up being successful at it later. For some students, this can be difficult to do, especially if they are already stuck in the loop of thinking they are a failure. I have noticed when teaching this at the beginning of the year that students sometimes struggle to think of a time when they persevered and ended up being successful. I find that they tend to think I am looking for a school-related example, so I give them the example of a baby learning to walk. If you have ever seen a baby try to walk, you know they fall down repeatedly but keep getting up and trying, day after day, until one day they are walking by themselves, then even running! From this example, students are able then to think of an example of something they accomplished by putting forth effort, and I am able to tie that to the effort they showed in the classroom this year and encourage them to be less discouraged. 

Conferring Starters

I asked them to tell me about a great book they had read. I asked them to tell me what workshop they particularly liked on the computer application, and to tell me something they had learned from that workshop. We talked about something they learned from the work we did together in their ReaL Book that they remember. I reminded them that even though the test didn't say they had grown, they had. We talked about what it means to be proud of ourselves in times of failure, how we should focus on what we did well, and how we can move on beyond the number that is the score to persevere and continue to put forth effort and not give up!

Celebrating Success

Students who showed growth were eager to come running to my desk to see their report. It’s so exciting as a teacher to see the pride they have in themselves! We looked at their reports together, and talked about how much growth was made. They were excited to track their progress on their Lexile Tracking Chart. 

I also have a 100 Club, where students to grow at least 100 points receive a certificate.

Our school hosts award ceremonies at the end of each trimester, and it's always so gratifying to hand out certificates to students for their achievement.

Ultimately I want my students to know I care, believe in them, and expect that they will achieve greatness. We have all experienced failure at some point in our lives; what we do with that failure defines who we are. I know that by helping students understand that setbacks offer the opportunity for growth is vital to their success. We rounded out our year with a celebration of success, whether the success was improvement on the Lexile test or another accomplishment. Every student grew in some way, and I hope they each left knowing I am proud of them and, more importantly, that they should be proud of themselves!

How do you encourage your students to learn from their failures and celebrate their successes?


Jessica Button is a fourth generation teacher, having been preceded in teaching by a great grandmother, both grandmothers, and her mother. She earned her B.A. in Education from Arizona State University in 2006, and her Masters in Reading Education from Arizona State University in 2010. She has been teaching at her current school since 2007. In that time she has taught sixth grade for two years, fourth grade for three years, then fifth grade for four years prior to being hired as her school’s Reading Specialist in 2016. This is her third year teaching Read 180 Universal to classes of fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students. Jessica is a member of her school’s Leadership Team, serving as a TAP Mentor Teacher, and she coordinates her school’s after-school program, which hosts over 120 students two days a week in sports and enrichment-based intervention classes. She is passionate about building relationships with students, and greatly enjoys helping them unearth their strengths and find things about reading they enjoy. She is married to her husband of ten years, and in her spare time enjoys reading, hiking, cooking, and spending time with her husband and pets.