If you aren’t familiar with Embedded Readings, a term coined by Michele Waley and Laurie Clarq, the gist is that the teacher creates a series of readings that build on each other to help build reading fluency and support comprehension.
A very brief example:
Bill is a teacher.
Bill is a Spanish teacher. He teaches Spanish.
Bill is a Spanish teacher in Indiana. He teaches Spanish by using comprehensible input.
As you can see, each version gets longer, and more detailed.
There are two ways to create an embedded reading: Top down, and Bottom Up.
Top down takes an existing text and simplifies it. This is a great way to scaffold authentic resources.
Bottom up builds the reading from a base version and adds details and makes sentences more complex.
Now, how about turning that into a reading assessment?
The suggested goal for level 1 of a language is Novice Mid, so I want to build an assessment that asks students to keep pushing themselves as they read.
A great place to start for planning reading tasks is the IPA comprehension guide template from ACTFL.
I put one activity (you know your students though, put as many in as you want) after each version of the text. The base version is VERY simple so I do a novice low task, then the second version is still pretty basic, but adds some details so I keep that novice low as well. The third version I move up to novice mid, and the task I give with the last version of the text is novice mid OR high.
For novice low, I’m looking for students to be able to identify key words and some phrases.
I might have students do a “Who would say it” task if there was only one character. I might do it for multiple characters, but I think I wouldn’t do it as a novice low task.
Another Novice Low task (Still focusing on word/phrases) could be an “Interview” matching activity. A little more rationale on this activity is that they don’t have to understand EVERYTHING in the questions and answers to complete it, they can find similar words from the question to the answer, even though they are reading phrases/simple sentences.
For a Novice Mid task, I had students translate some sentences from the reading, they have to demonstrate understanding of all the words in the selected sentence.
For novice mid/high I love just giving students a Wh-? organizer.
I think giving students a ‘simple’ organizer like this to fill out gives them an opportunity to show me as MUCH as they can. If they can show me basic details from the text, I might rate them NM, if they are able to show a LOT of details then I can rate them NH.
Going even further, referring back to the IPA planning guide, I might want to give students a question that makes them infer something about the characters, and then have them underline the text that supports their inference.
Rating: I simply give students credit for the highest level task they complete successfully.