This summer I read The Literacy Teacher’s Playbook Grades 3-6* by Jennifer Serravallo, author of The Reading Strategies Book*, for a professional development class on If you’re a K-2 teacher, there’s a companion playbook* that is the same exact book, but with content directly related to K-2 teachers versus 3-6. Let me tell you right off the bat, if you struggle with figuring out what to do with all your student data and paperwork, read this book.

One of the things that I have always struggled with as a teacher is figuring out what to do with all the data we collect. We grade all of these papers and administer all of these assessments, but are we really using them well all together to create well-thought-out goals for our students? Let’s be real… I definitely sucked at it. In fact, I admit that a lot of times in my first years of teaching, I tossed graded work because I had no idea what I was going to do with it. What a waste of my time and of my students time!!


So, cue in this professional development class about using assessment data to create goals in your reading workshop. Quick recap of the book, Serravallo walks you through a student’s work through the lenses and tool perspectives that she recommends. There are five lenses for reading and 2 lenses for writing: reading engagement, reading fluency, print work/decoding, reading comprehension, conversation, writing engagement, and qualities of good writing. She walks you through how to go through her 4 steps of building goals.

Jennifer Serravallo’s 4 Steps

  1. Collect data.
  2. Analyze data.
  3. Interpret data and establish a goal.
  4. Create an action plan.

Each chapter of the book is built to analyze each of those 4 steps and how she walks you through her model student’s goal setting. If you buy the book, she also tells you where to access her notes on the “we do” student that she encourages you to try out the steps on.

I loved how she walked through every step on this book. It was just the book I needed to figure out how in the world am I going to analyze all of my student data and what do I do with it once I feel like I’ve “analyzed” it to death. We have all had that difficult student that just will not progress forward and they seem “stuck.” This process is targeted towards those students that get stuck on the progress meter.

Application to My Classroom

I feel like I’m going into my next year with a brand new toolbox that I never had before! I of course had all of the tools, but they were scattered across my classroom like a complete mess. There is a reason why teachers are so obsessed with organization. If you’re not organized with your classroom or your paperwork, you feel unorganized and you feel like you’re scrambling for information on students when it comes time to RTI meetings or conferences. I definitely felt unorganized when it came to all the paperwork that comes along with students and I would just get frustrated with all of the work they did. I also ended up frustrated that I didn’t read every single sentence that every single student wrote.

Now that’s insane. Nobody has time for any of that. This summer I set out in search of answers for the 3 lessons I learned from my 1st year back in the classroom after a 5 year break from education. Lesson number 1 for next year, stop making students do work that isn’t meaningful! Lesson 2: Don’t. Grade. Everything. I really resonated with Laura Santos’ blog post about reducing grading time here. Lastly, lesson 3: analyze multiple pieces of student work to see the whole child and not just their district assessment score. Lesson 3 is really where this book came in handy.

This book walks you through setting goals for each and every individual student, which I think it’s ideal! But in reality, that’s not going to happen next year for me. I plan on completing the full process Serravallo walks you through for my strugglers in my classroom and even those students who are far beyond the rest of the class and need to be pushed higher. My hope is that I can try and use the same process for small groups of students as well. Walking through each of the 4 steps was definitely a tedious process, but I think it can be accelerated once you get the hang of it. I’ll be sitting in my classroom with this book next to me as a reference for a while. One day, maybe closer to the end of next year, I hope I can become a pro at the 4 steps of goal setting and be able to work with my students individually.

I plan on taking you all on my journey to be a better data analyst next year on my YouTube channel for a deeper dive. I will definitely block out names, but I think it would be great to analyze a student’s work from the beginning of the school year to the end and see the growth, analyze what it was that I did with instruction, what worked, and what didn’t. Let me know in the comments if that is something you’d be interested in.

Next Steps for You

First step, follow me here on my blog and on my YouTube channel. It’s easy and it’s FREE. Then your second step is to read Serravallo’s Literacy Playbook for K-2 or 3-6*. Let me know what you think and what your next steps in your classroom will be after reading that book!

*These links are affiliate links. I get a small percentage if you purchase anything at NO extra cost to you! Support teacher side hustles!