4 Reasons Why Graphic Organizers Boost Reading Comprehension

If you have followed my blog for long, you know that using graphic organizers is seriously something that I wouldn't be able to teach reading without. I believe that they help boost students' ability to understand what they've read. Below, are four reasons why I believe that graphic organizers help to boost reading comprehension for upper elementary students.

Graphic Organizers Give Readers a Purpose

Graphic organizers give students one mission when they are reading. Some of our students are so overwhelmed by the words on the page. They've been taught this skill or that skill. They've worked hard to decode various words or understand specific vocabulary. We know author's often write with a purpose. Well, readers need a purpose too. Why are we spending time reading this particular passage? By giving students a graphic organizer, you are allowing them to stop focusing on everything else and only focus on comprehension and practice a specific skill.

I love to use graphic organizers in science and social studies. The text in the science or social studies book can be overwhelming! In one particular section, what is the ONE thing you want your kids to focus on. In this particular section, I wanted to know what caused the crowd in Boston to grow larger and cause them to become violent. 

Graphic Organizers Help Readers Do Complex Things

Have you ever had something that seems so challenging or difficult, but once you do the first three steps, you realize how easy it is? I have done this so many times with so many things. Most of our reading tasks are simple IF we are able to take them one step at a time. I believe this about even difficult things that we are forced to shove down our students' throats for standardized testing. 

If I'm struggling to support an open-ended question with evidence from the text, I'm going to be overwhelmed by the fact that there are so many sentences in the text. I won't know where to start. But, if I've been trained to use a graphic organizer, writing four to five sentences to explain my answer will be a piece of cake after a LOT of practice. Graphic organizers help them do more complex skills by breaking down their thinking into manageable pieces. 

Graphic Organizers Make Differentiating Easy

I love to give different graphic organizers to different students. At a quick glance, they look similar. In reality, maybe I've provided an inference for students who need more support. Maybe I've provided sentence stems. Maybe some students aren't ready for difficult reading skills, like finding theme, when they need more help just understanding what the setting of a story is. Various groups of students could have different graphic organizers while reading the same or similar texts. 

Graphic Organizers Help Improve Writing

Writing is so hard for my students. I don't know about yours. To get ANY type of organized writing out of them feels impossible. When it comes to standardized testing, kids never know what to put on that planning page. Enter--THE HAND-DRAWN GRAPHIC ORGANIZER! 

After we have used graphic organizers over and over and over again during reading. They know exactly what they are looking for when it comes to their own writing. Well, they may not know it right away, but they can be trained to know what to write.

What You Need to Know about Using a Graphic Organizer to Compare Two Texts

I have a crazy obsession with graphic organizers. I can't explain it. Maybe it's my special education background, may they just relate to my own learning style. I don't know. Whatever the reason, I feel like my kids really benefit from utilizing graphic organizers when they are reading.

Since I love them so much, it would only make sense that I think they are very useful when comparing two or more themes. But I don't believe you should just throw them at your students and expect them to be ready for them. First, you need to do a few things.

Have a Clear Understanding of Story Elements & Theme

Comparing two texts in order to answer open-ended questions, multi-part questions, or a writing prompts is too complex for some readers. While you can't avoid these complex skills all together, make sure that your students have an understanding of basic reading skills, such as setting, characters, problem and solution, and theme.

Train them to Write Comparison Categories

When we first begin comparing two texts, I often have my students use a graphic organize where I have filled out the center column with different categories. However, I work to transition them away from ME doing it and more on THEM knowing what we are looking for as we read. After a lot of modeling, practice in small groups, and guided practice, they eventually get to the point where they know exactly what they are comparing. This also gives them a purpose for reading.

Fiction and Nonfiction Categories

Comparing fiction and nonfiction passages can be very different. When comparing fictional passages, I teach my students that we will almost always be comparing the same things--the Characters, the Setting, the Problem(s), and the Theme. I have them write those four things on their graphic organizer every single time. 

For nonfiction, you *might* use some of the same categories, but often times, you'll be using content specific categories, such as life skills, work ethic, responsibility, and time manage. These were all key ideas that were discussed in two passages about students doing chores every day. Train your students to begin thinking about what the big ideas are in each text. 

Model What to Write

They'll have absolutely no idea what to write down at first. Some students will want to write down literally every. single. little. thing. Other students won't write down anything. They are too overwhelmed to know what is important. 

I like to train my students to write down bullet points. In some cases, you might have a LOT of information about the setting, but in other stories, there might be very little information. That's ok. I once taught with a teacher who made her kids write down four things in every box on the graphic organizer. That's excessive in some cases and not enough for other passages. Model what your thinking is as you read and what types of information is important. 

Model During & After Reading

I also think it is important to model recording information on our graphic organizer as we read and after we read. We can't always share what the theme is until we've finished the passage, but we might be able to jot down things about the setting or something about the problem. 

I like to explicitly tell my students that we might write down things while we read, but we also MUST take time to add things to our graphic organizer after we are finished reading the text. 

Say NO to Using a Venn Diagram

I don't mind using a Venn Diagram with younger students. Venn Diagrams are perfect for very simple information or students who will be overwhelmed by LOTS of information. They are perfect for younger students who are beginning to understand surface level comparing and contrasting. However, I don't believe it's fitting for comparing two or more texts on a deep, upper elementary level. 

To me, I think the purpose of a graphic organizer is to help them beyond just reading the text. Often times, they will have reading comprehension questions or writing prompts to help them dive deep into the similarities or differences of two passages. I don't think this graphic organizer allows students to organize their similarities and differences.

I love using this topic to help my students practice comparing the information in two paired passages. By clicking the image above, you can find the printables in my TpT Store! 

How to Break Down the Skills to Teach Theme

Before I go any further, teaching theme is HARD...like really hard. Why didn't anyone teach me a sequence or developmental process for learning and teaching theme. When I first started teaching, I would just dive in. I'd find cool activities that practiced theme. Then, a few weeks later, it would come again in our textbook curriculum. And again. And again. And again. I was just hodge-podging my way through my reading lessons. I wasn't doing anything to build off of the previous experience to help my students better understand what theme was or how to answer theme related questions.

Think of teaching theme as this huge big umbrella that has many subcategories under it. You can't just teach this giant, abstract thought called theme. You have to break it down in a way that allows students to grow and progress, just like they would any other academic task. They need to do it one step at a time.

How do you do that, you ask? You teach smaller sub-skills to help your students master identifying the theme of a text and using details from the text to support their answer.

Step One: The Character Learns a Lessons

Before trying to have your students learn these deep life lessons, have them read a book where the character learns a lesson. Ask questions that require them to tell what advice the character might give to someone else. What will the character do next time? 

This is a very simple question that will allow your students to begin understanding that there is sometimes more to a story than just reading the words on the page. 

Step Two: Universal Themes

I find that my students really struggle to put their lessons or themes into words. Because of that, I like to give them a list of ideas to get them started. I have them think about types of themes that are included in many stories. There are countless books on friendship, bullying, being responsible, and trying your best. Those are all universal themes. They appear in so many books, movies, and short stories. 

They also need to think about diving deeper into a universal theme than just sharing a one or two word answer, like friendship or trying your best. Teach them to dive deep and describe the specific lesson that the character learned about friendship or trying your best. For example, "The character learned that if you don't try your best, you can't be disappointed by the results." 

Step Three: Main Idea vs. Theme

Students often confuse Main Idea and Theme. In some curriculum, they are taught as the same or similar things. While they are SUPER similar, a book or passage can definitely have BOTH! Both of these terms describe the message that the author is wanting to share with the reader. However, the theme is specific to a lesson that the reader may learn after reading a passage. 

Main Idea: The character in this story is disrupting class to hide the fact that he doesn't understand the work. 
Theme: It is ok to ask for help when you need it. 

The theme is often an inference that the reader makes, meaning you will be working to transfer from simple lessons that the character might have learned to more general lessons that apply to many people. 

I think it is important to understand the difference between these two to help students form answers when they are writing open-ended questions. Is the question asking about a lesson that was to be inferred or did they ask what the entire thing was about?

Step Four: You vs. Author

We infer the theme of a story because of two things--our background knowledge and the inferences we make based on what the author has written. 

I think it's important to help students realize that the author has written specific words to help readers relate, understand, or infer something specific. Using their background knowledge, they can relate or infer the a life lesson that has been shared. 

Step Five: Details vs. Evidence

I have some students who are REALLY good at telling me what the theme of the story might be. Yet, when they begin supporting their answers with details from the text, they STRUUUUUUGLE. When we are thinking about the higher level responses that students will be expected to give, they must be able to find textual evidence. 

It takes practice for them to be able to determine if a sentence from the text is a detail or if it is evidence. Many times, they are picking out sentences that are good, but they don't support what the reader said was the theme. 

Question: Should Aubree have studied for her test? 
Answer: Yes, Aubree should have studied for her test. 

Evidence: When Aubree went to take her test, she had NO IDEA how to spell any of the words. 
Evidence: She panicked, but it was too late! 

Detail: When her mom brought her dinner, she packed up her backpack. 

See how that detail has NOTHING to do with proving that she should have studied? That is what your students do. Or at least, that's what mine often do. Help your students sort between details and evidence. Not all details from the text are helpful when you are supporting your answer. 

Step Six: Multiple Themes in One Text

I love when you read a book aloud and students are sharing MANY themes about so many different topics. This is beautiful and shows the varying levels of thought and background knowledge of your students. Find a text that has so many themes and have your students practice finding them! 

I like to use Post-It Notes and have my kids write their theme on a Post-It each time we discover a potential theme. They want to fill Post-Its, and I like that they see how many themes were hidden in the story. They can also see different perspectives from their classmates. 

Step Seven: One Text with Multiple Themes

This is always the end goal. It's also the difficult thing for students to do independently. But as a teacher, it is so much fun to teach and opens the door to so many fun activities and discussions. Find books that have similar or related universal themes. It's such a great way to allow your students to compare and contrast, cite evidence from multiple sources, and see how pieces of literature support one another. 

If you are like me, I need help finding mentor texts and knowing what questions to ask my students. As I researched and trial and error-ed this sequence, I kept track in a Google Doc file with the books that I liked for each skill and the types of questions that worked well to help my students see each of the following steps above. 

In this file, I prettied up my Google Doc so you could print it and keep in your lesson plan book. Grab a few mentor texts that I've listed or add a few of your favorites where they fit. 

7 Items You NEED to Make Your Small Groups Fun

I believe that small group instruction should be two things: targeted and FUN!!! I pull approximately 45 students each day, and they often beg to come. If I have a meeting or miss them, they are upset that they don't get to "play games" with me. 

While playing our games, they are learning and growing. Below are a few items that I use repeatedly throughout the day. Items such as dice, spinners, and colored markers I use in a variety of ways in a variety of subjects. I have affiliate links for each of the items if you are interested in adding a little more fun to your groups. 

Differentiated Dice

I use these dice for so many of my groups and in so many areas. I've used them for spelling words, vocabulary words, numbers, and letters. They are so handy to have around. My kids especially love when we practice writing our spelling words using Roll-a-Word. They roll the dice and write the word. They repeat this process as they race to beat the rest of the group to the top.

You can find these differentiated dice here: https://amzn.to/2EKAKJU


My kids love Wednesdays because we get to use these spinners to play Connect Four. I also use them for math games and so much more! Since they are clear, you just sit them on top of any paper or center activity.

You can find these Connect Four Printables here: http://bit.ly/2IYKRiq
You can find these spinners here: https://amzn.to/2C2jjCx

Scented Markers & Crayons

Ahhh! Scented Markers. I think I should buy stock in Crayola. These are my favorite and I use both of them in different ways.

I've been using the level readers shown in the picture below. We use our scented colored markers to color in the three smiley faces each time we read the passage. They LOVE them. I pass the markers out at random, so they get a variety of colors and scents.

I also use the scented crayons on Color-By-Number pages and other activities, like Roll-a-Word that is shown above.

You can find these scented markers and crayons at Walmart or on Amazon. I usually buy them from Amazon, because they have a great "Add on" price.

You can find the scented markers here: https://amzn.to/2EJE1ZM
You can find the scented crayons here: https://amzn.to/2XAnWwZ


I bought two stamps from a local store on a whim, and my kids ate them up! I had to buy more. I was getting tired of using the same ones over and over. I found a six pack on Amazon and felt the need to buy! When I stamp them, I dramatically say whatever it on the stamp. They love answering the questions by themselves to earn the stamp. It's a fun way to motivate them to do comprehension questions on their own.

You can find these leveled readers here: http://bit.ly/2IWMDR6
You can find these stamps here: https://amzn.to/2EsnCaH

Reading Trackers

Tracking is something that is SO hard for many students. It also takes practice and encouragement. They often don't know the words or have the visual skills to keep up. Providing a fun "reason" to follow along is a great way to motivate your students to follow along. It also allows me to see who can track and who is struggling to stay with us. They LOVE these.

You can find the reading lights here: https://amzn.to/2GUCRNz
You can find the reading eyes here: https://amzn.to/2GXu7Gs
You can find the withes fingers here: https://amzn.to/2NGMJe2

Foam Dice

I love using dice with various games, but I do NOT like the sound of regular dice on the table. In my special education room, we often have four different groups going at one time. It's hard to talk over the sound of dice and other background noise. Therefore, I LOVE these foam dice! They are fun for the kids to use and don't make any noise.

You can find these foam dice here: https://amzn.to/2GWgpUe

Fun Erasers

I use erasers for counting and Bingo markers every day! I love finding the seasonal erasers from Target and Five Below. The kids love them and they are the perfect size. 

How to Group Students for Special Education Services

Progress Monitoring Data and Assessments

When I begin thinking about my small groups, I like to first make a list of common things that I am working on with my students. For example, in the area of reading, I have students working on letter names and sounds, decoding CVC words, decoding blends and digraphs, decoding words that contain vowels, fluency practice, students who are fluent readers but struggle with comprehension, and students who struggle with sight words. Some of my students need help in more than one area mentioned above. 

I like to start grouping my students by folding a blank piece of paper into eight sections. Then, I start adding names to each column based on assessments that I have completed with my students. This can be assessments that you've done informally or based on progress monitoring. Either way, take a look at some fresh data or collect it now that you are ready to begin grouping your students. 

Take a Look at Benchmark Assessments

I also like to look at benchmark assessments to see how my students are performing. More than likely, your school requires your students to take some type of assessment at the beginning, middle, or end of the year. It could be MAP, Star Reading and Math, or mClass. Whatever you are required to use, take time to comb through their scores and reports. 

Often times, parent reports from these programs can be very valuable to you as well. Parent reports often give a handful of things that you can work on to help them move to the next level or improve their scores. These suggested skills might be the same or different than the eight skills listed in the first section of this blog post.

Develop a Rough Draft of Your Groups

Once you have had a chance to identify WHO needs WHAT types of activities in your small groups, you can begin to draft a rough outline of what students would fit well together based on their needs. 

I have sixteen students who are identified for special education services in third grade. Just because those students are all identified does not mean they all need the same things. They are all over the place in their needs. 

By taking a look at my students' needs, I am able to start mixing them up and placing them in groups that are most appropriate for their present level.

Check the Schedule

It never fails, once I develop this beautifully laid plan for grouping my students, there are always kinks. I have one second grader who really fit perfectly with the needs of a low group of third graders. And what do you know...that group met during his special time. Laying out your groups in this way is nice, but there are still problems. There are still kinks that you have to work through. Check for issues with lunch times, recess, specials, other special education services, and whole group instruction that your students can't afford to miss. 

Test it! 

After I've drafted a schedule and had my general education teachers take a look at it, I test it out for a week or so. I often tell my fellow teachers that it is a tentative schedule and that I may make adjustments once I dive in. 

So far, I've LOVED my new groups for this year. I feel like I've been able to teach my students more efficiently because they working in their sweet spot for learning! 

Departmentalized or Not?: 5 Questions to Consider

Departmentalizing is a huge trend lately. I've taught in both departmentalized and non- departmentalized environments. They are both great. This blog post lays out the challenges and victories you may face in utilizing this teaching style. Hopefully, reading this sparks conversation between you and your fellow teachers and your administrators on if this would be a good fit for your school.{departmentalization, elementary, teaching, subject}
In upper elementary grade levels, departmentalizing has been a huge trend. In Facebook groups, I often see questions asked about the advantages and disadvantages to embarking on a departmentalized system in your grade level or school. 

I taught fifth grade in both a departmentalized and un-departmentalized setting. To be honest, I loved them both! So, I wanted to share my take on it to spark a discussion between you, your teammates, and your administration. 

Will you miss teaching a particular subject?

For me, I loved teaching reading. You know I discovered how much I loved teaching reading?

By teaching math all the time. 🤪

I am a total math nerd. I loved math both as a student and a teacher. But I missed teaching reading. Before you pick a subject or allow yourself to be assigned to a particular subject, think long and hard about if you'll miss teaching that later. 

On the flip side, I was able to get really good at teaching only math. My math scores were the highest in my building, and I felt like my lessons and routines were spot on. I can't say that would have happened without departmentalizing. Later, when I was by myself teaching all subjects, I knew I could let math slide a bit and focus on reading, writing, and grammar. 

Does your teaching style match the rest of the team?

This is a serious question. Departmentalization requires flexibility, time management, and consistent discipline. If your views and teaching styles don't jive with the rest of the team, then forget it. There would be days where my teaching partner would call me two minutes left before we were supposed to switch and say, "Amanda, I need like five more minutes!" So, I would continue doing stations or play a whole group math game to stall. In return, she didn't bat an eye when I'd call a few days later and say the same thing. When you have your own classroom and don't switch throughout the day, if you are running a few minutes behind, that's ok. When you are working with another teacher, that flexibility matters. Can you handle that? 

You'll also have to work together to discipline students. If my teaching partner had a student move their clip or take a Dojo point, I had to back her. She had to have my back and follow through with the punishment. It's just part of the set up. Make sure that you and your team are on the same page when it comes to how you'll handle behavioral and responsibility issues.  

Will you be able to integrate subjects?

For me, I love to integrate subjects. When we were departmentalized, I also taught science and social studies. Since my teaching parter and I were both so new to teaching, we weren't really collaborating on integrating subjects. I wish we had been better about that. 

We were also both total procrastinators and that didn't help. These are all things to consider when you begin to consider being departmentalized.

If I were to do departmentalize with another teacher again, I would want to plan out what units or topics we'd be covering throughout the year. Obviously, things change as the school year progresses. I think sitting down ahead of time and planning out science and social studies units at the beginning of each quarter or semester might help remedy this problem. 

Is administration on board?

Some of you may be reading this BECAUSE your administration is pushing you to begin departmentalizing. Others, may be trying to convince your principal to let you give it a shot. Either way, you need to make sure that they are aware and understanding of a few things. 

Who will be responsible for assigning grades to each student? Do you assign grades for your subject(s) for every homeroom? Do you grade work and the homeroom teacher records it in their grade book? How does that work? This also ties into making sure that your teaching styles work together. If you are always three weeks behind on grading and your teaching partner is the first one in the building to finalize grade for report cards, that could cause tension. Make sure you are setting up a system that sets you up for success. 

Another aspect to consider is teacher accountability on state-wide testing. In Indiana, the scores are reported by homeroom teacher. Meaning, my name was tied to scores where I actually had no part in the instruction. Are you ok with that? I was, because I knew my teaching partner was a hard-working, dedicated teacher. She worked hard to help all of our students meet their fullest potential. When it came to my evaluation with my principal, he looked only at the math scores from each group of students. 

How will parent communication work?

I believe that parent communication needs to be split between both teachers. In the case of my teaching partner and I, we had a classroom blog. We worked together to create a daily post with our homework, reminders, and information. It didn't come from only one of us. We both had access and we scheduled posts ahead of time. 

If you are using something like Class Dojo, make sure that you and your teaching partner(s) make a plan for how you'll handle parent communication. Do you share it? Do you each take care of your homeroom? These are important things to address ahead of time.

I also think that you need to make your preferences known to your students and parents. Make sure they know who they should be emailing or calling if they have a question about grades, homework, or projects. 

Can your students handle it?

If this is brand new to your school, make sure your students are ready. One year, we had a group that was extremely irresponsible and unorganized. While we still continued to be departmentalized, it was torture for some of our students. They constantly had the wrong book for the wrong class. They would forget their folder that had their graphic organizer in it. So, while we attempted to teach them valuable lessons in responsibility, it also wasted class time. It also brought consequences for them, like losing recess time. Maybe they weren't ready to be switching classes. Maybe we could have better structured our classrooms to have textbooks and materials already IN the room instead of bringing them on their own. Make sure that your students are ready and you aren't setting them up for a difficult situation. 

Why do special education teachers need to progress monitor?

Progress monitoring can be overwhelming for everyone, teachers and kids alike. However, accurate and repeated monitoring is imperative to your child's success. While monitoring every 3 weeks seems like a lot, it will give you the data points to see an accurate trend line for your students. Based on an accurate trend, you can further adjust students needs or perhaps mastery of lessons. This post outlines the need and the how to implement frequent monitoring{IEP, progress monitor, upper elementary}
When I first started teaching, there was a new requirement from the director to progress monitor once every three weeks. Teachers were furious and overwhelmed. They thought that it was such a waste of time. To be honest, I don't blame them. It can be time consuming and a daunting task.

Despite the time commitment and requirement to be organized, good progress monitoring practices are critical for student success.

Determine if an Intervention is Successful

Whether you are monitoring students who are already identified or students who are in the Response to Intervention process, frequent monitoring is essential for determining if an intervention is successful.

Let's pretend that you have access to TWO interventions for students who struggle to decode unfamiliar words. You use one intervention with fidelity for nine weeks. After progress monitoring your students, you may find that a large percentage of your students are making progress and gaining in their knowledge of decoding unfamiliar words. However, often times, there are students who are not making progress with the intervention you are currently utilizing. Frequent progress monitoring helps teachers see that the intervention in place is not working for a handful of students. 

Motivate Students 

I love to find ways to make my students accountable for their own learning. I keep a binder with goal graphs for each of my students. They have a graph for each goal they have in their IEP. In some cases, I have students who are also tracking their sight words or computation progress, even though it isn't in their IEP. 

Many of my students are so proud of themselves when they graph their own progress. They also check it before beginning a quick assessment. Just before my last round of progress monitoring, I had one student check his chart. In October, he was only able to read 2 words, which were I and a. Since that time, he has increased his word recognition to 15 words! He was so proud of himself. He was excited to practice sight words later in our group because he wants to be at 20 words by the next time we read our words. It is an excellent way to motivate your students and let them be responsible for their own learning. 

Helps Target Specific Needs

I can't tell you the number of times that I have found unknown weaknesses in my students when we progress monitor. For example, I have this sweet, shy first grader. Her lack of participation in the group made me believe that the work was becoming too hard for her. In reality, through progress monitoring, I learned that she had really mastered that particular skill and was struggling with something else entirely. 

Develops a Trend Line

Accurate trend lines and the frequency that progress monitoring occurs go hand in hand. I once had a special education friend who refused to "test" his kids every three weeks. He thought that is was a waste of time and torture for his students. In my opinion, if your progress monitoring is time consuming and torturous for your students, you are doing something wrong. 

He had a student that later really bothered him. He regretted not being more aware of his strengths and weaknesses. I believe that more frequent progress monitoring could have helped him. Here's why--To develop a trend line, you must have three or more data points. The more data points you have, the more accurate your trend line will be. If you are only progress monitoring once every nine weeks, then you won't have three data points until MARCH. I'm sorry, my friends, but I think that is too late. We all know what spring time looks like in special education. For me, it consists of constant interruptions of service due to state-wide testing and annual case conferences. How can you wait until the busiest time of year to get a true understanding of how your students are performing? 

By progress monitoring three times per nine weeks, I have an accurate trend line by October. I can make adjustments to instruction and gather more data between October and December. 

Restructure Student Groupings

Once I've gathered data, I almost always rearrange a few students to better suit their needs. I love to be able to call a parent and let them know that their child has mastered and IEP goal and is ready for more challenging academic work. It's amazing for everyone involved. Without collecting data, I may end up with a handful of students on my caseload who aren't being pushed to meet their fullest potential. 

Inspire New Routines

This is embarrassing to share, but I have to do it. I had a group of students who I thought were really kicking butt. I seriously thought they were doing great and making progress. Looking back, I think that I was confusing their ability to complete tasks WITH ME as mastery. They couldn't actually do tasks independently. After progress monitoring, I spent a solid week beating myself up. I couldn't understand why this group of students was unable to name letters and produce their sounds as well by themselves as they were with me. I was frustrated and questioning myself. But, that frustration and questioning led to something great. It caused me to really step back and look at what I was doing in that group. It made me find new routines for practicing letters and sounds in more independent ways. Without progress monitoring, I wouldn't have realized just how much they weren't able to do independently. 

Progress monitoring can be overwhelming for everyone, teachers and kids alike. However, accurate and repeated monitoring is imperative to your child's success. While monitoring every 3 weeks seems like a lot, it will give you the data points to see an accurate trend line for your students. Based on an accurate trend, you can further adjust students needs or perhaps mastery of lessons. This post outlines the need and the how to implement frequent monitoring{IEP, progress monitor, upper elementary}
If you are looking to assess your students quickly and easily, I have a collection of progress monitoring tools to help you assess your students and track their progress