Getting to know students is essential to effective reading instruction.
How did I do this?
Cognitive and noncognitive assessments were used to assess each student’s literacy development. According to Afflerbach (2007) noncognitive aspects of literacy development “include readers’ motivations, self-concepts, interests, and attitudes, as well as the attributions that readers make for their performances in reading” (p. 153).
What did I use?
I used reading passages and word lists to assess cognitive aspects of literacy development. These were part of a Reading Inventory.
I used an interest inventory to assess noncognitive aspects of literacy development.
Why did I use these assessments?
Reading Inventory: According to Nilsson (2008), “These popular reading tests are often used as a screening instrument to determine whether students are reading at grade level, but they’re also a valuable diagnostic tool (as cited in Tompkins, 2010, p. 88).
Interest Inventory: Dr. Janice Almasi discussed the importance of getting to know students and taking our time to find out student interests and background knowledge. She explained that teachers need to remember that they are not teaching subjects, they are more importantly teaching students (Laureate Education, 2011a).
What did I change as a result of these assessments?
My instruction and materials were designed around these assessments. I chose materials that would be interesting and relevant to all three students.
The overall theme for the unit was chosen based on student interest. Students were excited about the materials chosen and the activities designed around their needs.
I incorporated differentiated learning opportunities for my small group of learners.
Students did not all engage in the same activities because of their different literacy needs.
Part II. Selecting Texts
Choosing a balanced group of texts is essential for effective reading instruction.
What type of texts were used in my unit?
For this unit I used a variety of texts that included narrative, informational and online books. Within the narrative group some of the texts chosen were decodable books and some were challenging read alouds.
How did I choose these texts?
I used the matrix discussed by Dr. Douglas Hartman to evaluate and balance my group of text. This matrix was a useful took to evaluate the text on the informational vs. narrative continuum and the semiotic vs. linguistic continuum (Laureate education, 2011b). I was able to see that my group of text included a balanced amount of informational and narrative text as well as varying levels of picture books with different amounts of text.
I used an interest inventory as well as the data from my reading inventory to select appropriate read alouds and decodable texts.
Why is it important to have a balanced group of instructional texts?
According to Stead and Duke (2005), “stories have been the principal genre for reading and writing instruction in the primary grades because it’s been assumed that constructing stories in the mind is a fundamental way of learning; however, many students prefer to read informational books, and they’re able to understand them as well as they do stories (as cited in Tompkins, 2010, p. 303).
It provides more opportunities for students to use a variety of cognitive and metacognitive strategies to help them better understand how to read and understand a text.
For example, using an informational text may be a better outlet for students to access prior knowledge and as a result “fill in gaps in the text and enhance their comprehension” (Tompkins, 2010, fig. 8-2).
I saw my own students using this metacognitive strategy when we used a decodable informational text.
Using a narrative text would allow students to use a cognitive strategy like predicting what will happen next in the story.
My students demonstrated this throughout the unit but this was seen most often during read alouds which featured a narrative text.
Part III. Literacy Lesson-Interactive Perspective
According to the Framework for Literacy Instruction the Interactive Perspective centers around “reading and writing accurately, fluently and with comprehension” (Walden, 2011).
How did focusing on the interactive perspective foster a literate environment?
Students were exposed to different text genres and difficulties
Students used both cognitive and metacognitive strategies to read the text for understanding.
Dr. Janice Almasi discussed that teachers should teach students to choose “the best and most efficient strategy” while decoding text (Laureate Education, 2011c).
Part IV. Literacy Lesson-Critical and Response Perspective
According to the Framework for Literacy Instruction the Critical Perspective centers around “judging, evaluating, and thinking critically about text” while the Response Perspective focuses on “reading, reacting, and responding to text in a variety of meaningful ways” (Walden, 2011).
How did focusing on the response perspective foster a literate environment?
Students were connecting with the text in a personal way through text to self connections.
Students experienced the texts on a personal level.
Students were given space and opportunities to respond to events in the texts.
Dr. Janice Almasi explained that teachers need to create time and a place for students to respond to text. She stated that this could allow students to encounter a text that could change their identity (Laureate, 2011d).
How did focusing on the critical perspective foster a literate environment?
Students were providing opinions about text
Students were understanding the author’s purpose for including details in the story and as a result they were understanding a perspective other than their own.
Dr. Janice Almasi discussed the importance of being a critical reader and digging deeper into text. She explained that it is important students be exposed to this perspective so that they can understand other perspectives in text. This will help them become better readers and better consumers of information. This is an important life skill as students are confronted with global issues (Laureate Education, 2011e).
Afflerbach, P. (2007). Understanding and using reading assessment, K–12 . Newark, DE: International Reading Association.
Laureate Education Inc. (Executive producer). (2011). Analyzing and selecting text. [DVD]. Baltimore, MD: Author.