¶ … individual child help you to better understand some problems of the struggling reader? How will this understanding influence your future practices as a teacher?
The work involved in studying a single child brought a lot of understanding about the different issues prevailing in the struggling reader. Some related to comprehension, some related to difficulties with certain words, some related to the problems of the individual. As well, working with a single child provided new information about interests and difficulties of one specific struggling reader, which then can potentially be generalized to issues other struggling readers might have. One possibility would be to incorporate information gained into the teaching techniques as well as into the materials chosen for the students. For instance, a child who likes outer space will definitely be more interested in reading a book on astronauts than a book on flowers. Similarly, a child who likes sports might well show interest in reading the sports column of a newspaper (Joanne Meier, n.d.).
Finding out more about the history of the student, with regards to school success, from reading past reports and/or the particular child's cumulative scores is also important. This enables the teacher to learn whether the student has struggled for some time, or this is perhaps only a sudden transformation. A key factor for struggling reader's might be to determine whether an assessment has been done on the student's eye-sight and hearing. As well, if learning problems seem to go beyond reading, or there are other appropriate factors, it might be important to find out whether the child should be considered for aid, such as special education or any kind of early intervention help (Joanne Meier, n.d.).
The individual student, James, with whom I worked, has been diagnosed as 'emotionally disturbed'. The past records said that the child would display some emotional outbursts from time to time. This did happen in class; from time to time he would become more disruptive. Also, he was sometimes more restless during class, and would sometimes begin to weep for no obvious reason. His behavior was sometimes impulsive, as he would call out in class without raising his hand first (Joanne Meier, n.d.).
Continued reading instruction will be a good start in teaching James how to recognize words, and how to comprehend what has been read. As well, it is likely that through reading instruction, James can be encouraged to be interested in reading, and develop his own willingness to read. Reading is something that will be important for him for the remaining part of his life. Reading instruction is structured and incorporates directions in comprehension, as well as 'decoding' words, in order to provide him with the experiences he needs (Joanne Meier, n.d.).
A good reading inventory is engineered in accordance with the specific requirements and interests of the student. In case of James, the first lesson utilized was a graded word list, followed by a small graded comprehension passage. I had a talk with my lead teacher and with the principal concerning classes that would help me to understand how to incorporate various components of reading into daily instructions for the students. The five main components of reading are: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension (Joanne Meier, n.d.).
Discuss how your project helped you to find new strategies to implement as a teacher and aided you in finding new resources to use as a teacher of literacy, particularly for students with reading problems.
Good vs. Poor Readers:
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) report, students who read three or more times weekly are more likely to know their alphabet, count up to 20 or more, write their own names, and be able to read, at least a little, when they are first entering school. It has also been reported that Caucasian children tend to read more frequently than is the case for African-American and/or Latino children. According to Yarosz and Barnett (2011), the literacy levels of students' mothers, as well as the financial status of the families, are also important factors strongly linked with reading frequencies. Statistics suggest that about 74% of children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds were reading, according to their family members, before entering into countries.
Encouraging Struggling Readers:
As stated by Asher (1984), motivation is greatly affected by the following two variables: (1) whether we anticipate success at a particular task; and (2) the value that we place on that success (and on the task). In general, many people believe that success is primarily due to three reasons: capability, effort, and fortune or luck. Most prosperous people believe that they are successful due to their abilities, and believe that they fail because of their own lack of effort (Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock, 2001). On the other hand, people who are poorly motivated tend to think that success is due to poor fortune, and that failure is due to a lack of personal capacity rather than to a lack of effort. After having failed several times, some individuals begin to start thinking that they are incapable of success and quit without trying. As teachers, we must continuously strengthen the link(s) between effort and success among the students.
In my case, when I noticed that James' reading fluency was not smooth, and that his comprehension of what he read was not 'up to the mark', I decided to concentrate on three letter combinations and diagraphs in all levels of my teaching strategies. As well, I am working to increase the use of materials that interest James and the other students. When teachers provide a setting in which success is feasible, and help children set achievable goals, there will be positive effects on struggling students (Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock, 2001).
The word-by-word readers such as James will frequently be focusing so intently on the 'decoding' part of reading that they fail to absorb the meaning in what they read. Students like James must be reminded that when this occurs, they should simply stop and utilize a 'fix-up' technique like re-reading the material. Other approaches include giving importance to the context, or requesting a clarification. Often struggling readers will simply quit when the work turns tougher. In such cases, it is important for the teacher to encourage the student. One important approach is to help the struggling student to realize that each and every reader sometimes has failures in understanding the material. As well, we should remind them that the gap between good and poor readers lies in what they decide to do when their comprehension collapses (Tankersley, n.d.).
Improving Reading Comprehension Skills:
Most often, struggling readers do not know how to find answers to questions about the passage they have just read. Even those children who are able to read the allotted text without difficulty may not know how to process the reading passage. Learning this from working with James has helped me see ways to help him and other students (Tankersley, n.d.).
One can teach the students to understand what they are reading and answer questions about what they have just read by encouraging them to develop an introspective method that is - talking aloud. Ask the children to do the same thing - speak out their own thoughts as they are developing answers to the questions. In this way, the teacher can extend support when needed (Tankersley, n.d.).
How did studying an individual child in-depth better enhance your teaching?
The following are few of the important qualities of efficient teachers that are improved after having studied the individual child:
• Having formal teacher training for planning
• Being caring, helpful, and humble
• Keeping high beliefs and ideals for themselves as well as for their students
• Dedicating additional time to prepare instructions and reflections
• Extending the instructional time through efficient management and organization
• Improving instructions by various strategies, activities, and assignments
• Presenting content to students in a thoughtful manner that encourages understanding
• Monitoring student learning by using pre- as well as post-assessments, giving timely and productive feedback, and re-teaching materials to the students who have not achieved proficiency
• Exhibiting efficiency with the complete range of student capabilities inside their classrooms, irrespective of the academic variations among the students (Tucker and James)
How has conducting this case study helped you to avoid grouping all struggling readers in a "one-size-fits-all" box, and how has it influenced your thinking on the need for differentiated instruction?
From this case study, I found that the behavior of other students had an impact on what I was about to accomplish. Sometimes, they were quiet and sometimes they seemed uncontrollable. These mood swings had an impact on the types of sessions there were conducted on James. Thus, grouping the struggling readers should be avoided. I also learned that sometimes James simply could…
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