Classroom That Work Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Classrooms That Work

The paragraphs below respond to the text and look at alternative ways to demonstrate reading comprehension to students. These paragraphs will offer new ways to look at ways to enhance students' reading experience.

Reading comprehension is an important part of developmental learning for young students. It helps build confidence and an eagerness to acquire knowledge. Reading is important because it expands the mind and promotes creativity. Promotion of comprehension furthers the learning experience because by understanding one concept, a student can understand others more easily. This is not just about retention of subject matter or a student moving onto the next level. For teachers, it is acquiring the tools to know how to access the strengths and weaknesses for each student to cater an individual strategy. A teacher needs to have the skills to know that each student works at their own pace regardless of making the grade. As teachers, part of the job is the discovery of new ways to facilitate learning on multiple levels and promote comprehension. This means understanding how children think. This will allow for effective and successful teaching.

From the students point-of-view, retention is seen as punishment or failure. Students see repeating a grade as failure because they are not allow to be on the same level with their peers. They see it as a failure to learn as quickly as their peers and this perception can hurt their self-esteem (Cunningham & Allington 7). There are other alternatives to repeating a grade such as summer school and individual tutoring after school. This diminishment of confidence found in repeating a grade does not promote strong reading skills as the students question their abilities. If anything it makes the reading experience in the classroom more difficult for the student. They are unable to focus on comprehension and understanding the material but rather worry about perfect pronunciation and speech. It is important as teachers to intervene early on and address difficulties before it cause the student to be turned off from reading completely. In other words, it important to evaluate students' reading ability before damage is done.

Phonics as a teaching tool for younger students has been found to be effective in aiding understanding of how the alphabetic language system works (Cunningham & Allington 13). Research has fond that while children figure out the letter sound system directly, phonics can speed up the process of literacy acquisition. Use of phonics has been effective in helping children at risk who have not had previous exposure to language. They may lack everyday exposure to reading and writing and have fewer opportunities to figure out the system. These students benefit from phonics greatly. Basal instruction offers more structure for the teacher because different levels gradually increase for each individual student over time. This assists the teacher in formulating a strategy for learning with the aim of independent reading of novels as the main goal for the students comprehension. Still Basal can have its drawbacks as it can be predictable even with gradual increase of comprehension. For many students, it offers a comfort level from which they can expand horizons. Other children may find stories in the booklet boring and not challenging enough for their expanding world of knowledge. These children need to be challenged with outside reading or a more structured Basal plan. Then there are students who have an early talent for story-telling and want to write and explore their imaginations. These students look to reading like a hungry man to food. It is a necessity to continue their story-telling knowledge. It is a proven fact among successful writers, that reading feeds the brain with new ideas and inspiration. For these students, reading is a means to an end (Cunningham & Allington 15) as they look to stories for new ideas to write down. As a teacher, it is important to allow for such growth in creativity. Fostering creativity at an early stage, will promote problem solving and new levels of understanding different concepts. This can later been applied not only to reading comprehension but also other subjects like math and science.

In the role of teacher, it is part of the job to teach children how to think as they read. This in essence is comprehension (Cunningham & Allington 47). The simple fact is that everyone thinks all the time, it is as if the brain does not stop. Each person can deduct their known conclusions and results from their environment as they perceive them. Still this function to think non-stop seems to disappear as a student focuses on reading. This is true especially of the classroom setting where social pressures for positive performance exist. In the mindset of the child, it is mistaken for the professional to think that the student does not think while reading, not that they cannot. They indeed can when the pressure to perform is not as great. For some students this pressure take up too much energy, there is no room for further thought. Research shows that a lot of the time the student does not know to think. They have not been taught, exposed or told that they can let their mind go. Much of the time, they are so focused on the sounds and correctness that they do not see the meaning of what they are reading. This true especially if they have not been exposed to "talking" about the details of the story. As a result many children are trapped in trying to decode the sounds and language rather than discovering and remembering the details of the story. There is not one solution to the problem but many alternatives to demonstrate reading comprehension in the classroom setting. This allows the teacher to cater an individual plan for each student and also makes learning fun.

Success in reading requires time, materials, models and motivation. Teachers can use ordinary methods to encourage reading comprehension but there are also fun activities that can serve the classroom, student and make reading fun. There are such tools as shared reading, big books and guided reading but there are also other more active methods that require equal participation. These alternatives include KWL, graphic organizers like webs and story maps but also interactive events like drawing, putting on a play based on the story, and conducting interviews in the style of Oprah. These activities promote understanding of the reading material on different levels than before but also allow for students to use their creative juices. These alternatives also build teamwork, leadership and friendships among students. New levels of comprehension are born out of dong instead of just thinking and answering questions. It promotes new ideas but also stimulates the thought process for students.

KWL stands for Know, Want and Learned (Cunningham & Allington 56). It maps out the course in which the student thinks. The exercise asks students to figure out what they already know and build upon it by answering questions. What the details of what we know? This motivates students to discover new things and push the envelope of knowledge. After the exercise, students are able to return to the story and have better memory of the details as they have acquired new knowledge on a familiar topic.

Graphic organizers are a form of guided reading. A popular graphic organizer takes the form of webs for the elementary level. These webs help students organize details of a story especially when there are sub-topics involved. This puts the information in a format they can better understand as it is simply presented. Teachers use questions to expand the web to incorporate students' expectations and feelings toward the subject. This can also help them focus on specific elements of the story and offer descriptions of the story. This allows a teacher to introduce new vocabulary to them in a context they understand. Different bubbles in the web can also categorize different parts of the story allowing students to think about it on many levels and see different relationships between different elements. What the web does well is that is does keep everything well coordinated so that confusion and frustration is minimal. Different bubbles can compare and contrast the aspects of the story to draw out different conclusions.

Story maps are utilized before the student starts to read (Cunningham & Allington 63). The map lists out the elements of a story that many people enjoy. It literally acts as map for students to follow the story. It draws their attention to the details of the story such as character, setting, problem or goal, and solution. It also asks the student to look at the theme or moral of the story. The story map asks the student to write down these details as they read, which results in a student remembering the details as they form an impression during the thought process. Most times, in order for comprehension to result, a teacher must guide the student through interaction while reading. As a result, it may be best…

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