So it turns out that I will only be working with one student, unless something changes and someone shows up that had dropped out – apparently that happens. That means I have to rethink my strategy a bit as far as organization goes. There won’t be any times where one has to work in a self-directed manner while I work with the other. In some ways (as another grad student said) having only one student has it’s pros and challenges. The biggest plus is that I can focus on the needs of this one student, the challenge is that a third person would have taken some of the pressure off me to be the main source of interaction. As a teacher you roll with what comes your way and do your best.
Having only one student to give the Informal Reading Assessment (IRI) to was a big plus today. Our coach, Jenn, took half the kids so the grad students could administer (sounds scary when I use that word) the IRI. I brought my student (I need to think of a pseudonym to use here – any suggestions?) down and then went with one of my colleagues to watch her give the IRI. I’ve only given this assessment once before so this was a bonus. The person I watched wasn’t well versed either so I was able to help out a bit too, the boy she is working with was very patient and understanding with us.
The purpose of the IRI is to give me an idea of where the student is in their literacy development. The first thing that you do is have the student read aloud from a list of words. The lists correspond with stages of literacy development and once the percentage correct dips below 75% you’ve found their approximate stage (the list where they scored 75% or higher). As Adam (that’s the pseudonym I’ve chosen, not very original or very original depending on your religious beliefs) read through the list of words I marked whether it was a sight word (he knew it on sight, didn’t have to think about it), or if he had to analyze it (sound it out, think about it, have me ask him to try saying it again). I started Adam on list four based on what I had observed yesterday. On list six, Basic Literacy, he scored 85% for sight, and 100% for analysis. On list seven, the final list, Refinement, he scored 75% for sight and 95% for analysis. With that information I knew that my initial observational assessment of Adam was right, but I still needed to continue on to the next stage of the IRI.
For this part of the IRI I choose a passage (they are provided in the IRI materials) that matches up with Adam’s stage of development. I chose the third transitional passage to give an ‘easy win’ experience called “The Baboon’s Umbrella”. I don’t want to give him the hardest passage and then move backward, that kind of experience is a bit crushing, the idea is to give him one he can read easily and move up to more difficult ones. Before he reads there are directions for front-loading some vocabulary (baboon, gibbon, predicament), the genre (fable), and content (Why should one be careful about taking advice from friends?). Adam then read the passage silently, then aloud. When he read it aloud I coded my copy of the text with any long pauses, self-corrections in pronunciation, words he repeated, words he skipped or changed, punctuation he ignored. He did well with this passage. He paused a couple times, and left a couple words out but nothing that changed the meaning of the text. That is an important distinction in counting miscues, if Adam made a change that still fits within the context of the story and sentence then it isn’t an issue, if it does not fit then it is counted as a miscue. The follow up questions provided me a look into Adam’s sense of humor. When asked if one of the characters would make a good friend Adam said, “No, he’s a monkey!” that cracked me up. I rephrased the question to would someone like that character make a good friend. He was able to answer the comprehension questions and the questions that required him to think and infer easily, once he realized I wasn’t accepting “I don’t know”. The next passage was the first of the Basic Literacy passages and was about the disappearing rain forests. He read this one well too, four pauses, two self-corrections, and the additional “the” showed me he was still at a comfortable level. I then skipped the second passage at that level and had him read the Refinement passage. This one was about WWII and the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan. I knew that he had an interest in war so I figured that that would provide the interest to read this more lengthy and difficult passage. He has a solid working knowledge of the time period. This passage came with a purpose for reading, find out about the two different sides of the decision to drop the bomb. There was no oral reading of this piece. Only one follow up question asked about the major arguments for and against dropping the bomb. The other three asked questions that made Adam form an opinion about the subject and infer. He provided good answers with little prompting. He did struggle when trying to convey the idea that the lives saved outnumbered the lives lost by dropping the bomb but I got the gist and repeated back what I thought he meant in order to clarify.
These are the goals I’ve chosen (for now) to work on with Adam. They are taken right from Becoming a Reader by O’Donnell and Wood:
- Increase motivation to read and write
- Increase fluency in reading and writing
- Develop awareness and use of study strategies
As I’m writing my lesson plan for tomorrow I’m realizing: I need some sort of project for Adam to work on. I feel like there is only the most tenuous of links between the different activities that we’re doing. Each think I’ve planned will only take 10-15 min, SSR and the read aloud take 20 each. I have a time for writing but it’s only 10 min, we might not even make it that long, it will depend on his interest and writing stamina. He has said that writing, the physical act of it, is challenging. Maybe I will let him use my laptop to type if it becomes a barrier to our work. Some sort of digital project would be perfect but I’m stumped right now. I think that I’ll brainstorm with Adam some ideas at the end of class (it isn’t really class but it’s easier to call it that) of projects that he’s done in the past and enjoyed. Some kind of writing project would be good too. My biggest fear is having unplanned time at the end and not knowing what to do. I guess more read aloud or SSR is always an option. I think Adam will benefit from as many positive reading experiences as possible.
You can read about class one here. My summer journey – class one
You can read about class two here: First class with students
- Reading Aloud Challenge: June 23 (debrakb.blogspot.com)