Tag Archive | teaching

Fieldwork Reflection #5

Dates: Monday, May 06, Wednesday, May 08, 2013
Site:
St. Paul Lutheran School, All day kindergarten
Cooperating Teacher: Mrs. Novak
Total hours together:
3 hours 10 mins
Total for EDU344:
20 hours of 20 hours

 

On Monday I finally had time to work on the final assessment from my unit plan with Luc. First I had him reread the words he had missed last time we played the “word train game: need, dear, under, river, storm, herd, corn, fame and paper. I also included other words he had gotten right last time. Like the previous time, he had to put these words into train groups by vowel. He missed storm, herd, corn and fame again. The “or” sound seems to be a major issue for him. He also really struggled with fame, which was odd because he read all of the other A words with a final e perfectly fine. I even told him to rhyme fame with came or same, but he couldn’t process it. We talked about the silent or “magic” e and that it turned the a into a long /a/ sound, but Luc still could not pronounce the word. Eventually I sounded out the whole word for him.

The freezing on the word fame is very puzzling, and I am not sure what to make of it. I know his mother has been working on the “silent e” with him, and I also know that words like same and came are sight words for the class. So perhaps, he memorized some a words with final e by sight, and he has not mastered how to decode any unfamiliar words with this vowel structure.

After we finished our word trains, I had Luc read The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss. This particular text features quite a few of the vowels correspondences that Luc is struggling with, including vowels with a final e, vowels preceded or proceeded by an r, and vowel diagraphs. There were 131 words altogether, and he read 118 words correctly, including self-correcting most of the words he initially read wrong. His reading for this book was at independent level.

Some of his reading errors were due to thoughtlessness and rushing. For instance, he would see the word “foot,” but instead of closely looking at the middle vowels, he would just read it as “feet,” or vice versa. Also, later in the book he read “left” instead of “feet.” He had seen the e, f and t of the word “feet” and because the book had just used the word “left” he read the current words as “left” as well. I had him stop and reread this portion because he had made the same mistake several times in a row. I told him to really closely examine each word as he read and to slow down.

The final assessment I had concocted was to have Luc play a word ladder game. In this activity, the student starts with one word at the top of the “ladder,” and he has to trade one letter in to create a new word on the rung below. For example, the “r” in read is traded in for a “b” to create bead. The “d” in bead is traded in to make beat, etc. This assessment is used to determine whether the student understands that spellings of vowels and consonants must change in order to create new sounds. Unfortunately, while Luc understood the concept of the game, he could not change any of the letters to form new words on his own. So I ended up just walking him through the whole process. I think part of his confusion was that he still hasn’t grasped that vowel combinations can make different sounds. For instance, Read can be read with a long /e/ as in feed, or with a short /e/ sound, as in bed. This inconstancy in the English language is still baffling for Luc. In many cases, he doesn’t know whether he is reading an English word correctly or not, because he has never heard the word before.  At least for the majority of other kindergarten students they have heard the word before and have schemata connected to each word. Luc is still building his schema.

Fieldwork Reflection #4 With Picture!

Dates: Monday, April 22, Wednesday, April 24, and Friday, April 26, 2013
Site:
St. Paul Lutheran School, All day kindergarten
Cooperating Teacher: Mrs. Novak
Total hours together:
4 hours 5 mins     Total for EDU344: 13 hrs 45 mins out of 20 hrs

For Monday, I performed the second mini-lesson that I had devised for my mini-unit. First I used flashcards that looked like train cars to see if Luc had any knowledge of vowels with a final e, vowels preceded or proceeded by an r, and vowel diagraphs. I made a mark on a sheet for each word he struggled with and also gave him tips how he might sound them out.

After he read each word, Luc organized these “train cars” behind a cut-out train engine according to their vowel patterns. Each word group made a “word train.” The groups were as follows:

“Er” words: Fern River Paper Herd Under

“Or” words: Work Horn  Storm Corn

“oo” words:Took Look Book Roof Good

“ee” and “ea” words: Feet Need Dear Meet Read

“A” words with a final “e“: Came Fame Same Game Name

Of the preceding words, Luc missed or struggled with need, dear, under, river, storm, herd, corn, fame and paper. Some of them I expected, since they were multi-syllabic words, and the kindergarteners for the most part have only been learning one-syllable words. We talked about ways to recall proper decoding, such as remeluc with x boxmbering the “silent e” on fame. Luc told me his mother had been working on the “silent e” as well, which pleased me to know they were doing some English education at home. He seemed to really enjoy the lesson, despite the fact that I was drilling him quite extensively.

Later that week the school was celebrating “Grandparents’ Day.” Luc didn’t have any special person visiting him, so I did activities with him instead. We worked on a Search and Find puzzle that was made up of his classmate’s names. He struggled to find the words, so I had to give him plenty of hints. He also had to write about a happy memory in his journal. He couldn’t think of anything, so I gave him a few suggestions. He decided to draw a picture of his X-Box 360. I helped him write out this word at the top of his page. As we worked, he told me about his family, and how he had recently visited his grandparents in France. I asked him in my best French accent, “Parle vous Francais?” To which he replied, “Yeah.” He told me he also was learning Chinese and proceeded to recite the Chinese alphabet to me.

Luc is a very bright boy, who seems to have a knack for picking up languages. I have no doubt that his English will improve provided he continues to get adequate practice.

Assessing and Correcting Reading and Writing Difficulties: Chapter Thirteen

For our last reading response of the course, we skipped ahead to chapter 13, which focused on teaching writing to struggling students.

Writing has five main processes, which are as follows:

  • Brainstorming—a time for generating ideas, stimulating thinking, making plans and creating the desire to write.
  • Composing—Drafting thoughts, getting ideas down on paper and getting a purpose and an audience in mind. The act of writing.
  • Revising their thoughts after input from teacher or peers—Students have many chances to read their work critically to peers or a teacher, in a process called a conference. During the conference, the student reads his work, while the audience listens carefully. The audience then focuses on praise, elicits clarifications and makes suggestions for improvement.
  • Editing their writing errors and such—This is where the students focus on spelling, punctuation, capitalization, word choice and syntax.
  • Publishing their writing—the teacher can either post this electronically on a blog, or the teacher can hang finished work on bulletin boards or submit it to a publication for children authors.

At any given time, writers are engaged in one or more of the above stages. When you have students who are struggling to write, direct instruction and modeling becomes a huge part of the teaching process. There are many different methods to teach writing to challenged students, and all of them are equally as valuable, such as guided writing, where the teacher works individually with students, guiding them through the steps of the writing process. There is also strategic writing instruction, where the teacher determines a strategy the students really need help with and focuses on that for the lesson, modeling said strategy and guiding the students through the initial process. There are also writing workshops, which are very effective because everyone moves at their own pace. Teachers set up “conference” times throughout the week to talk one-on-one with each student and figure out where they are progressing and where they still need assistance. There are also actual programs created with the struggling writer in mind like the Cognitive Strategy Instruction in Writing, where every process of writing is detailed in printed rubrics or guides called Think Sheets that the students use to remind themselves to complete each step of writing.

Regardless which method you use in your own classroom for teaching writing, it needs to be remembered that the only way to hone a writer’s skills is to write and write often. I am a staunch believer that anybody can become a writer, and that anybody can write well. What sets the okay writers apart from the tremendous writers is the commitment they have for their craft. One of the jobs of us educators is to convince our students that excellent writing is worth all the concerted time and effort put into it. This is especially true for those who take extra-long to complete writing assignments because of their challenges. Struggling writers need to be taught that good writers are not born, and that even they can achieve greatness with resilience and extra practice.

 

Thomas G. Gunning, Assessing and Correcting: Reading and Writing Difficulties, rev. ed. (Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon, 2010), 456-492.

Fieldwork Reflection #3

DatesWednesday, April 17 and Friday, April 19, 2013

SiteSt. Paul Lutheran School, All day kindergarten

Cooperating TeacherMrs. Novak

Total hours together3 hours 5 mins      Total for EDU344: 9 hrs 40 mins out of 20 hours

On Wednesday, I practiced a Miscue Analysis/IRI on Luc. I used copies from the Qualitative Reading Analysis (5th ed.)  book from Pearson. First I asked him to read the words from the Pre-Primer 1 list, which included a bunch of sight words that the kindergarteners had previously learned. Luc did really well on reading this list automatically, missing just two words (can and was) and being able to self-correct the word can on his own. This put him at Independent level for this list. Then we moved on to Pre-Primer 2/3, which also include a lot of sight words but more complicated ones. Luc did not do so well on this list. He missed nine out of twenty words and was only able to self-correct one of those: the word some. I noticed that he struggled with words that had a final silent on them, as well as words that featured the letter r either before or after a vowel.

Next we moved on to Pre-Primer 1 level stories, the first called “I Can.” First I asked the concept questions to get a look at his background knowledge. The questions were basic, like “what does it mean to jump, hop, sleep, and dream? Luc couldn’t offer precise definition for any of the questions, and for the jump question he used the word in his definition. His comprehension was about 50%. He predicted that the story would be about hopping and skipping, even though skipping wasn’t one of the words.

For some reason, I had not copied the first page of the story, which said, “I can jump. See me jump.” So we started with the second page. Luc did well on the story. He misread can again, but he self-corrected. He also misread lunch and self-corrected and inverted two words, but also corrected them. This meant that the story was at his instructional level, which is good. For the retelling portion, he remembered 5 out of 10 points, so his comprehension/memory was at 50%. Despite not remembering key points, he did make some inferences based on the pictures. For the comprehension questions, he missed the last one. I asked him what the boy can do while he is sleeping, and Luc said the exact opposite of what a person does when he is asleep. He said the boy was awake and reading books, which was very puzzling to me. Did he not understand the English I was speaking?

I also would have been surprised by the lack of comprehension, except that Mrs. Novak had told me in a previous week that the majority of the students are still working on developing their comprehension skills.

Because he was at instructional level, I decided to have Luc read another story at the Pre-Primer 1 level. This story was called, “I See.” The concept questions were “what is a frog, what is a bug, and what is a pig? Luc was able to give 2-point answers, listing characteristics of each of the animals. He was also able to predict that the story would be about a frog and a pig. His prior knowledge was higher for this story, at 67%.

During the reading, he misread ant as nut, but he corrected himself. He also switched the order of two words, though he self-corrected. And he misread doing as logging. Doing was one of the words he had gotten wrong on the word list as well. Because there were fewer words in this story and he had one more miscue than the previous story, his level was at frustrational this time.

Interestingly enough, his memory for this story was way more accurate. He got 10 out of 10 ideas right in the retelling. He got all of the questions correct, too, including understanding some implicit ideas. He also figured out that the story rhymed even though this was not part of the assessment and I didn’t prompt him at all. He pointed out each of the rhyming words for me, and I praised him for figuring that out.

The only explanation I can think of for why his decoding and comprehension skills did not match up is his lack of understanding of the English language. Maybe both his reading and his listening skills can be affected by his language barrier.

After I analyzed his reading, we returned to the classroom where Luc was able to participate in a letter game with the other children before lunch time. The children had to pull items out of a box and figure out whether the figure started with a or or neither. If the items didn’t start with the feature letters, they started and/or ended with or x, which were the next letters the students were going to learn about; so it was a pre-assessment to see if the children already knew these letters. I thought it was a really clever idea, and I would totally implement that exercise if I ended up in a kindergarten classroom.

After reviewing the miscue analysis at home, I noticed Luc especially struggles with his vowels. While he can read words with the CVC pattern—that is, consonant, vowel, consonant—he gets confused when we add a finale marker to a word, when the vowel is preceded or proceeded by an r, or when the word has a vowel diagraph—two letters sitting next to each that create a distinct vowel sound. Because of this boy’s struggles, I decided we should focus on vowel sounds,

We started the lesson, by playing the Say, Move it game, where a student moves tokens below the designated line for every sound in a word. I started with easy CVC words, such as “cat, dog, hat,” etc. before moving on to more complicated words like “boat, tail, book, rain,” etc. I was doing this to assess whether Luc understood phonemes and graphemes or not.

After the exercise, I explained how some words have more letters than sounds. I showed the word rain as an example. There are three sounds, but four letters, because there is an extra vowel in the word. I demonstrated this for him, using little print-out blocks that had the letters of the alphabet on them and spelled a few words that had more letters than corresponding sounds. I then showed Luc how to change the word by exchanging or adding letters. For instance, rain becomes train, train becomes trail , trail becomes tail, and tail becomes pail. The teacher will explain as she is changing the words, how the vowel sounds also change depending on the word. Rain is a long /a/ sound, while pail is closer to a short /a/ with a hint of a short /i/ sound.

We then worked together to do the following other word building lists, explaining about the different sounds the vowels make, depending on the words:

  • Dome
  • Home
  • Come
  • Some
  • Same
  • Came
  • Cane
  • Pane

And the list:

  • Book
  • Look
  • Took
  • Tool
  • Pool
  • Cool
  • Fool
  • Food
  • Good

During this exercise, I would periodically pause and ask the student to find a letter to add to the beginning or the end of the word to change it. For example, during the first list, after changing the word to same, I asked Luc to grab a letter and change the word. And he selected g, to create game. By the end of the exercise, Luc made five words of his own.

After we went through these word lists, I had him play the Say it, Move it game again, this time sounding out words like book and then counting out the letters. He saw that these specific words had a difference in letters and sounds, thanks to the vowel diagraphs in each of the selected words.