Reading Skills for Struggling Readers

Learning to read is a complex task and some children struggle to become successful readers.  The research and instructional literature has told us that Grade 3 is a critical benchmark for determining whether kids will become successful readers.  That literature has also told us that kids must master a range of skills: phonological awareness, phonics/decoding, spelling, vocabulary, comprehension and fluency.  On my T.A.L.K. blog ( http://frantoomeytalk.blogspot.com/ ) I have focused on age 3 to grade 3 language/literacy development, especially for kids who have learning challenges.

Over the next few months, I will focus here on the reading/literacy skills kids need and CAN develop in grades 4-8.  I will begin with comprehension, then address vocabulary, and then fluency.  In those blogs I will consider the role of oral language and writing/spelling as well as reading.

I am going to use an ABC’s format.

A for About.  Offering an  annotated bibliography of research and literature from expert researchers/practitioners, I’ll highlight those authors who have influenced my work and/or have widespread acknowledgement as experts.

B for Begin. Using those annotated sources, I’ll highlight ones that offer a place for teachers, special educators and parents to begin an instructional process.

C for Commitment.  Using A and B sources, I’ll map out a substantial teaching  sequence for some of those sources, with goals and objectives, instructional ideas and ….tools for progress monitoring.

 

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Student to Teacher Feedback

Student to Teacher Feedback

I’m not sure how I omitted this conversation “relationship.”  It is just as important as all of the other conversations about learning..  My teaching improved when I explicitly asked for feedback, especially midway through a course.  It is a challenge to read about your weaknesses as a teacher, but it is the only way to improve. In my experience feedback is honest and helpful when students can give it anonymously, the teacher shares the results of the feedback, and plans for using it.

Here are some helpful ideas from a middle school teacher.

“By using student feedback to improve your teaching, you build a better classroom. Learn how you can start gathering student feedback on your teaching to modify … to giving the survey, how does Mr. Ronevich encourage student voice in his classroom.”

Measures of Effective Teaching: Student Feedback – Teaching Channel

https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/improve-teaching-with-student-feedback

Important Enough to Back Track: Adult Communication that Impacts Student Success in Schoo

This Series began on January 9, 2017 with the following:

January 9, 2017   Adult Communication that Impacts Student Success in School

Up to this time, this blog has focused on language development and use by children.  The idea was to focus on the ways in which children do and can develop the language skills that help them to be successful learners.  There is a wealth of information “out there” as well an on this blog about ways to do this.

It is time for a new focus: the communication of adults that impacts children’s success in school and beyond.  Teachers and parents talk about children and their success or lack of success in school, administrators and teachers talk about children, special educators and teachers talk about children.  Support staff members and “outside” experts “communicate” about children and their success or lack of success in school.  What do we know about how these “stakeholders” (is that the correct term?) talk to each/one another about children’s success in school?  How much of their conversations address the reasons for children’s success or lack of success and what each adult does/can do to ensure that success.

*****

Time to look at these communication (dialogue?) topics and issues in more detail.  So, starting with the first posting in that sequence:

http://www.latimes.com/local/education/community/la-me-edu-how-to-actually-get-something-out-of-parent-teacher-conferences-20151023-story.html

The above mentioned article opens in the following way:

It’s that time of year. Kids have been in school for a while, and now you get about 15 minutes with their teacher to talk about … what, exactly?

Parent-teacher conferences can be confusing. They’re rushed, with parents lingering to ask questions and more hovering at the door.

But education researchers say parental involvement and communication with teachers is an important element of student success. We talked to experts to find out why parent-teacher conferences are important and how parents can make the most of their time. These experts are listed at the end of the story.” 

THE ARTICLE GOES ON TO LIST QS AND PREPARATION:

Parent Questions:

Should I go only if my child is having problems?

NO, but you should definitely go if your child is not making the kind of progress you expect or hope for. (My comment)

How do I prepare?  They respond:

“Talk to your child. These conferences are short — they tend to be 10 to 20 minutes long at most, so it’s good to go in knowing what you want to glean from them. There are a few questions parents can ask their children to prepare beyond “How’s class?” and “How’s your teacher?”. 

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Equally important are the teacher’s preparation and role before, during, and after the conference.

Below are some things  you (administrators, teachers, and parents) can talk about, and groups like the Harvard Family Research Project and a school district in Washington have even published preparation tip sheets:….” 

This is an 8 page document published by Harvard with advice for principals, teachers, and parents.  Pay particular attention to page 5 and on  for teachers and then the following page for Parent

Here are some of the tips that come from the Harvard group for Teachers:

Before the conference:  (Note these are all direct quotes for sections of each item.)

Review student work. Be prepared to go over student data, assignments, and assessments during the conferences. Think of what more you would like to learn about your students from their parents.

􀂾 Prepare thoughts and materials. Create an agenda or list of key issues you want to discuss about each student’s progress and growth. Also consider creating a portfolio of student work to walk through with families during the conferences.

 During the Conference

Discuss progress and growth.

􀂾 Use examples

􀂾 Ask questions and listen actively

􀂾 Share ideas for supporting learning

􀂾 Seek solutions collaboratively. How “we” can work together to resolve any problems.

􀂾 Make an action will check in with one another about progress.

 After the conference

􀂾 Establish lines of communication.

􀂾 Follow up with families. If practical, contact parents (either by phone or in a note) who attended the conference and thank them for doing so. Ask if they have further questions or concerns and send home materials that can help them support learning at home. Contact parents who did not attend, as well, and offer alternative ways to communicate about their child.

􀂾 Communicate regularly.

􀂾 Connect in-class activities.

AND THEN THE ARTICLE OFFERS HARVARD’S ADVICE FOR PARENTS:

Advice for the Parent’s Role

What should you expect?

􀂾 A two-way conversation.

􀂾 Emphasis on learning

􀂾 Opportunities and challenges.

.What should you talk to the teacher about?

􀂾 Progress. Find out how your child is doing by asking questions like: Is my child performing at grade level?

􀂾 Assignments and assessments. Ask to see examples of your child’s work.

􀂾 Your thoughts about your child. Be sure to share your thoughts and feelings about your child.

􀂾 Support learning at home. Ask what you can do at home to help your child learn.

􀂾 Support learning at school. Find out what services are available at the school to help your child

 How should you follow up?

􀂾 Make a plan.

􀂾 Schedule another time to talk.

􀂾 Talk to your child. …Share with your child what you learned…

 For more resources on family involvement, visit www.hfrp.org

 

Lastly, the article offers this guiding acronym:

 “BE HEARD ”Keep these principles in mind fora great parent–teacher conference:

Best intentions assumed

Emphasis on learning

Home–school collaboration

Examples and evidence

Active listening

Respect for all

Dedication to follow-up

The article continues on to offer a “different guide” on Parent-Teacher Conferences

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feedback Through Teacher-Student Dialogue

Growth Mindset that goes beyond “effort”: Minor Mirror, Model, Mentor

Four Teaching  (Feedback) Moves That Promote A Growth Mindset In All Readers

By Katrina Schwartz APRIL 3, 2017Mind Shift

https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2017/04/03/four-strategies-that-promote-a-growth-mindset-in-struggling-readers/

Some short excerpts:

“Most often teachers spend their time assigning what students should read and how they should show what they read, monitoring to make sure students have done what was asked, and making decisions about what students will do and how they will do it. Those roles make the teacher the main driver of the learning. In order to step back from those traditional roles, teachers have to replace them with new strategies.

“There’s a place for those three, but when that’s our main role there isn’t space for ownership and to develop that growth mindset,” Goldberg said. She coaches teachers to think of themselves in four very different roles, and to step back from constantly stepping in when students struggle. A big part of that is making it clear that struggle is part of reading, not a unique experience to students learning to read. It’s common to start a book and be confused, or to read a passage and miss something, but teachers don’t often make it clear how universal that experience is, no matter one’s reading level. Rather than being assignors, monitors and managers, Goldberg coaches teachers to see themselves as miners, mirrors, models and mentors”

I encourage you to watch the 7 minute video where Goldberg teaches us how to be miners, mirrors, models and mentors.  The article continues with a description of these 4M roles.

 

 

Feedback and Student Voices

 
A 4 minute video!

How Students Critiquing One Another’s Work Raises The Quality Bar from D. Bassett’s blog spot:  

http://dbassett.blogspot.com/2017/03/here-is-great-article-on-learning-to.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ReflectionsOnMeta-cognition-ForEducatorsByEducators+%28Reflections+on+Meta-cognition+-+For+Educators+by+Educators%29

 
Too often, when students produce schoolwork, they turn it into a teacher for a grade and move on. And after the teacher spends time evaluating the student’s work, many students never look at the feedback, a cycle that frustrates both parties and isn’t the most effective way to learn.

Student to student feedback video via sMindShift

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8FKJPpvreY  4 minutes

Teacher-Student Dialogue

Empower Students to Be ‘Captains of Communication’ From Ed Week

By Starr Sackstein on February 12, 2017 6:31 AM Guest post by Brian Klaft

http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/work_in_progress/2017/02/captains_of_communication.html?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=workinprogress

Short excerpt:

When groups are constructed around strong student communicators, student engagement increased. My class now has the ability to work bell to bell, to the point that my students often lose track of time due to their engagement. I have heard “time flew today” on more than one occasion. Time flies when learning is deep. Increased engagement was not the only benefit of having table captains.”

A good communicator has a way of making a group safe to engage in, which leads to more academic risk taking, which leads to deeper questioning and understanding of science phenomena. Questioning and understanding phenomena is the goal and communication is the key.”

My students have a safe zone through which they can take part in class in a more active way. They are not just going deeper due to NGSS [Next Generation Science Standards] and its three dimensions, but also do to the safe dynamic of the group. Having a class designed on safety of communication has also resulted in fewer students on the periphery that only engage under teacher supervision.”

 

Being Open to Learning is Harder Than It Appears

There is a volume of information about carrying on meaningful conversations, especially about change. In the last posting I mentioned Grice’s Maxims which specify 4 qualities of conversation (from:

https://www.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/dravling/grice.html )

  1. The maxim of quantity, where one tries to be as informative as one possibly can, and gives as much information as is needed, and no more.
  2. The maxim of quality, where one tries to be truthful, and does not give information that is false or that is not supported by evidence.
  3. The maxim of relation, where one tries to be relevant, and says things that are pertinent to the discussion.
  4. The maxim of manner, when one tries to be as clear, as brief, and as orderly as one can in what one says, and where one avoids obscurity and ambiguity

This appears to be fairly straightforward but, in my experience, not a simple task.

Looking at the work of Robinson, I think we get a more realistic orientation to the challenges of conversations that are open to learning, conversations in making changes.

Here is a quote from the author (Viviane M. J. Robinson) University of Auckland cautioning us that “Open to learning” conversations are not easy, even when an administrator is talking with a teacher:

The Key Components of an Open-to-learning Conversation. There are no rules or step-by-step guides to open-to-learning conversations. This is because the shifts from less open to more open-to-learning conversations are as much about changes in values and ways of thinking as they are about changes in communication skills. Hard and fast rules also do not work because good conversations are responsive to context and to the other person. Despite this, it is possible to identify some of the recurring components of open-to-learning conversations. Table 3 identifies some of these components and shows how a leader might use them in conversations about the quality of teaching.”….

Nevertheless, she lists 7 components (starting points?):

  1. Describe your concern as your point of view. I need to tell you about a possible concern I have about.. I think we may have different views… I realise this may not be how you see it….
  2. Describe what your concern is based on. The reason why I was concerned is..
  3. Invite the other’s point of view. Pause and look at the other person or say.. What do you think?
  4. Paraphrase their point of view and check. I got three important messages from that…Am I on the right track?
  5. Detect and check important assumptions… What leads you to believe that the children…
  6. Establish common ground. The common ground might be based…
  7. Make a plan to get what you both want. How would you like to learn more about….

There are several YouTube videos that provide examples.  For example:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pV5KmINdTWY

 

 

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