Improving Reading Skills Reading and essay

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Students then move to advisory to discuss what they learned from the principal, then begins first period science class.

Science is tutorial based, but often broken up into groups of four for lab and experimentation work. Math lab includes a number of different activities that change out regularly.

Following math, the students meet for Art class, which varies daily in activities, social and spatial development.

Lunch and a brief recess follows.

First class after lunch focuses on learning tools combined with independent reading; teacher uses only worksheets as student activity after reading; question worksheet designed to uncover comprehension and vocabulary development

Next class is social studies, work in pairs, teacher uses a number of different strategies and course outlines for variety.

Final period of the day focuses on English, or ESL for international students.

Reviewing a typical day for Ahmad, however, shows some serious disconnects in terms of his continual improvement in literacy. Analysis of his day shows:

Lack of consistent strategies to allow Ahmad the chance to catch up with vocabulary development; instead, there are so many new strategies and tasks that he falls further behind because he is unable to achieve the requisite level 6 vocabulary.

Each class is working in isolation; in the absence of an official IEP the school should at least find a way to establish some modicum of logical support between core subjects that culminates in the literacy course at the end of the day.

For ESL learners, it is important to provide a rubric of regular growth; Ahmad is being challenged with too many disparate messages to adequately comprehend them in a given day.

Assessments -- Ahmad's Student Reading Interest Survey shows that he is engaged, has multiple interests, and is able to search for, and process information at grade level. His preference for Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid, shows that he is able to understand wry humor, the concepts of personification, point-of-view, place, and magical realism. While there are several moral lessons in the book, it does require that one interpret humor and cynicism in a way that requires some understanding of idiom, dialog, and more advanced sentence structure. There are also numerous subplots and manipulations that contribute to the overall story, as well as the humorous content. Ahmad likes, and collects, additional volumes showing that he enjoys storyline development, adolescent trials and tribulations, and has enough empathy to understand some of the social intricacies that are more Middle than Elementary school (Kinney, 2004).

Name____Ahmad____6 grade____Date

Student Reading Interest Survey

In School Interests:

What is the title of your favorite book that you have read?

Diary of Wimpy Kid.

Do you have a favorite book title that someone has read to you?

Lawn Boy

What kinds of books do you like to read on your own?

Story in cartoon book, picture and information

Do you have favorite books, magazines, or comic books at home?

Yes, Unbelievable Facts

Do you ever read the newspaper at home? If so, what parts of the newspaper do you read?


What is your favorite school subject (other than lunch)?

Language Arts

Have you ever done a special research project? What was the topic?

Yes, about salt lake, UT.

Out of School Interests:

1. What do you do for fun on weekends or after school?

Play football

2. Do you have a hobby? If so, what?


3. What is your favorite TV show?

Discovery channel

4. Do you have favorite video or computer games?

Yes, iPod touch.

5. If you surf the Internet, what do you generally look for as you surf?

I surf for how to make airplanes.

6. Have you ever collected something like coins, stamps, and so on? If you have, what?

Yes, all Diary of Wimpy Kid books

Writing Assessment- General observations show confirm that Ahmad is imaginative. He attempts fairly strong organization, but fails to write a standard; 5 paragraph theme, model (introduction to the problem, points 1-3, compare/contrast, pov). Ahmad does not yet understand paragraph structure, but attempts to work in more advanced vocabulary than possible. Structurally, he has not yet mastered adverbs and adjective; or the agreement between such and noun/pronoun.

Further evidence of the conundrum Ahmad faces is easily shown by using Fry's Readability Assessment. This basically takes the average number of syllables in a 100-word passage, and charts where the student lines up by grade level. In Ahmad's case, his reading outshines his comprehension (assessment given after Fry), but about 40%. For example, he is reading at about 5th GL (red diamond), but when given a 10 question comprehension assessment (vocabulary, textual memory, story retelling, etc.) his level drops to approximately 2 grade levels (purple circle). Typically, the literature says we do not see this type of gap unless there is a cognitive learning disability (which there is not), or with some ESL learners who have gaps in their mastery of English (the Fry Graph Readabilty Formula, 2006; Scott and Weishaar, 2003).

Instructional Implications - Clearly, there is a disconnect between Ahmad's ability to read and his comprehension and vocabulary level, as well as his consistent and correct use of grade level appropriate grammar and punctuation. Thus, we find:


Proposed Strategy

Potential Outcome

Reading -- Vocabulary Development

Vocabulary Cards set up prior to reading assignment; Content Reading Emphasis

Steady vocabulary development based first on content literacy (Ahmad's interests, etc.), then introduction of like-words from Wimpy Kid texts; use of graphic novels to emphasize vocabulary development.

Reading -- Miscues in words and vowels

Word Sorts; Self-Analysis of Miscues

Lessening of miscues based on self-analysis and correction.

Writing -- Paragraph development

Concept Mapping and Graphical Display after story and/or prior to composition; Text Structures

Increased understanding of paragraph and story-line development based on other texts and/or previous knowledge.

Writing -- Grammar and Punctuation

Sentence Structure Analysis; Analysis of grammar structure within text

Analysis of sentence structure; improvement of recognizing and fluency in English grammar functions to grade level

Overall -- Comprehension Development

Post-it-notes as Adjust Displays;

Allows for analysis of plot, structure; questions, and especially, NEW WORDS.

Lesson Plans -- the key for Ahmad's development will be the consistency with which instructors work with him on a daily basis. This may involve a more advanced peer, a Para-professional, library staff, or preferably, the individual instructor. Regardless of the subject matter or the text, daily Ahmad should have practice in the following:

In each text, fiction or non-fiction, Ahmad should be encouraged to use different colored post-it-notes to establish a method of critical reading. For example, yellow might mean structure questions or identifications; blue characterization; and green vocabulary. Keep the amount of material short at first; maybe 1-2 paragraphs, but consistently increase this over time.

Ahmad should keep a vocabulary development notebook; easily set up by using a 3-ring notebook with 26 divider tabs, one for each letter of the alphabet. At the end of each class session, Ahmad should transfer the information from his green post-it-note to the appropriate page in the vocabulary notebook. Ideally, Ahmad should take the time to research the unfamiliar word using the dictionary and the structure below. If there is not time during core classes, Ahmad should use 5-10 minutes in Language Arts to complete his vocabulary development lesson:

a) Circular -- a roundish shape, something that is round is circular.

b) the oranges I like to eat are circular in shape.

Note than (a) defines the word in the student's vernacular; (b) the student uses the word in a meaningful sentence, and (c) the student draws or pastes a graphical representation of the word or action. By writing the definition, then using the word, the picturing the word, the student is using different levels of learning and cognition which will increase the chances of the word becoming part of the vocabulary. Follow-up from the instructor will be vital, both to ensure that Ahmad is not overwhelmed by the sheer number of words at the beginning of the task and to assess the efficacy of the program on a weekly basis. It would also be advantageous, as both a reinforcement and "fun" aspect of learning vocabulary, to make different types of flashcards that Ahmad can use as self-drill, partner drill, or instructor assessment, throughout the school term. Cards should be made, roughly three each per word, and then randomly sorted. The cards will be constructed in the same format as the vocabulary notebook, one showing the picture, one the word, one the definition with a blank for the correct word:

The Lessons listed below should be viewed as a template, and adapted to different texts from different subjects, depending on how quickly Ahmad advances through them. For instance, the grammar lessons are a template, but different sentences from different books may be used to illustrate increasingly advanced grammatical topics.

Lesson 1

English Sentence Structure Plan (Parts of Speech - Sentence Structure,…[continue]

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