Rosemary Curtis

Child Study
Paper 3
TE 301

Child Study Part 3
Background



Child‟s Pseudonym: John
Age: 6
Grade: 1st
Setting for Child Study Session: School

Part 1: Development of Comprehension
Following the modified cognitive model of comprehension development
(McKenna, & Stahl, 2009, p. 23) reading comprehension is developed through the
development of automatic word recognition, strategic knowledge, and listening
comprehension. The development of automatic word recognition was covered in the
previous paper. Automatic word recognition allows the student to focus his/her attention
on comprehension as opposed to the mechanics of reading. Strategic knowledge includes
the general and specific purposes for reading and knowledge of strategies to use when
reading (McKenna, & Stahl, 2009, p. 23). Listening comprehension is the ability to listen
to a story, or even someone simply talking, and being able to understand what the speaker
is trying to communicate. The development of listening comprehension is based in the
development of word-meaning vocabulary, background knowledge, and knowledge of
text structures (McKenna, & Stahl, 2009, p. 23).
Word-meaning vocabulary is exactly what it sounds like, it when a person knows
the meaning behind a word (Peltier, 2014a). When learning a new word, a student moves

from having a general sense of the word‟s meaning, then to having an understanding of
the meaning in context but still cannot use it in his or her own reading or writing
(receptive vocabulary), then to being able to use it in his or her own writing in limited
contexts (the beginning of expressive vocabulary), and finally the student has a deep
understanding of the word‟s meaning (Peltier, 2014a). There are three different tiers that
are used to classify words for vocabulary. Tier 1 consists of words that are very basic and
do not typically need explicit instruction (Beck, McKeown, & Kucan, 2002). Tier 2
words are words that appear frequently in language but are not words the students are
familiar with; these are the words that are most valuable to teach (Beck, McKeown, &
Kucan, 2002). Tier 3 words are words that are not necessary to comprehension of the text
or are rarely used outside of specific academic contexts (Beck, McKeown, & Kucan,
2002). Word-meaning vocabulary is extremely important to comprehension, if a student
does not know the meaning of the words in the text, it can be nearly impossible to
comprehend the text. For example, when hearing or reading the sentence, “The cat chased
a mouse”, if the student does not know the word “cat” or the word “mouse”, the student
must rely almost entirely on other clues for comprehension. There is a correlation
between a student‟s vocabulary knowledge and his or her comprehension (Duke &
Carlisle, 2011).
Background knowledge is the information that the student already knows about
the subject in the text. It develops through the experiences that a student has, both at
home and at school. It is very important to listening and reading comprehension because
it can help to fill the gaps in vocabulary or text structure knowledge (Peltier, 2014b).
Referring to the example above, if the student does not know the word “mouse” but does

know the word “cat” then he or she may use his or her prior knowledge about things that
cats chase to understand that the cat chased a mouse.
Text and sentence structure can drastically impact a student‟s ability to
comprehend a text. Sentence structure includes aspects such clauses, punctuation,
anaphora, ellipsis, substitutions and conjunctions (Shanahan, 2012). Text structure is the
aspects of a text on a larger scale than sentence structure. Text structure includes how the
whole text is organized, headings and subheadings, and so on (Shanahan, 2012). Teachers
can help the develop students‟ understanding of text and sentence structure by beginning
with less complex structures and then explicitly teaching the aspects when reading
(Shanahan, 2012). Text structure is also related to the genre of a text. Each text has
different purposes and features, which define its genre (Peltier, 2014c). Understanding
the purpose and features of a text includes understanding the structure of the text and can
provide the reader with critical information on reading it. If a student has a solid grasp on
the sentence and text structure, then that allows them to focus their attention on other
aspects that can help or hinder comprehension, such as vocabulary.
Reading comprehension is the ability to construct meaning from a text that is
being read (Rand Reading Study Group, 2002). Reading comprehension is considered to
be a growth construct, which means that a reader can continuously improve his/her
reading comprehension abilities (Duke & Carlisle, 2011). It develops differently in every
reader; there is no specific path that all readers follow towards reading comprehension
development (Duke & Carlisle, 2011). The development of reading comprehension is
affected by the development of decoding and word recognition, vocabulary, prior
knowledge, controlled processing, oral language, fluency, short-term and working

memory, motivation, specific genre skills, and comprehension strategy usage (Pressley,
2000). When a reader is able to comprehend the text, it frees their cognitive functioning
to focus on learning from the text and on applying the text in later contexts (Rand
Reading Study Group, 2002).

Assessment of Comprehension
Assessing reading comprehension can act as an umbrella assessment for all of the
different facets that lead toward the development of reading comprehension, including
word recognition, vocabulary, background knowledge, word-meaning vocabulary, text
structure, and listening comprehension. If a teacher assesses a student‟s comprehension
and the student has a very high level of comprehension, then the teacher can determine
that the student likely has little to no difficulty with the facts of comprehension.
However, if the student does poorly then the teacher knows that the student is having
difficulty with one or more of these facts and it is important to assess the other facts to
determine specifically where the student is experiencing difficulty (Peltier, 2014b). One
way to accomplish this is to assess listening comprehension instead of reading
comprehension. By focusing on listening comprehension, the teacher is no longer
assessing automatic word recognition or strategic knowledge, but instead is focusing on
background knowledge, vocabulary, and text structure knowledge.
To assess my child study student‟s reading comprehension, I used the assessments
from the Qualitative Reading Inventory (Leslie, & Caldwell, 2011). To begin, I used the
QRI Sight Words List (Leslie, & Caldwell, 2011, p. 105) to determine which level
assessment I should use. He scored instructional for an upper pre-primer level, so I
started by giving myself practice with the QRI, I gave him a fluency assessment by

having him read “Lost and Found” (Leslie, & Caldwell, 2011, p. 141) at the pre-primer 3
level. He scored in the 75th percentile for his correct words per minute on the fluency
portion of this assessment according to current data (McKenna, & Stahl, 2009).
Following this assessment, I continued with two full QRI comprehension assessments. In
these assessments word-meaning vocabulary was assessed through the concept questions,
such as, “What does „spring‟ mean to you?” (Leslie, & Caldwell, 2011, p. 143). Wordmeaning vocabulary can also be found in the comprehension questions, such as, “What
can a person in the story play with in the spring?” (Leslie, & Caldwell, 2011, p. 144). The
concept questions also assess background knowledge, such as, “What animals live near
lakes?” (Leslie, & Caldwell, 2011, p. 167). Assessment of the comprehension of the texts
is found in the retelling of the text and in the comprehension questions, such as, “When
would turtles sit on rocks?” (Leslie, & Caldwell, 2011, p. 168).
The first full QRI assessment was a narrative text, “Spring and Fall” (Leslie, &
Caldwell, 2011, p. 143). I began the assessment by reading the directions script provided
by the QRI (Leslie, & Caldwell, 2011, p. 56) which ensures that the student knows that
he will be reading a passage, that I will be taking notes and recording him, that I can‟t
help with any part of it, that he will be asked to retell the text as if I hadn‟t heard or read
the passage before, and that at the end I will be asking him questions about the text. I
began by asking him the concept questions, which asked him what the terms “spring”,
“fall”, and “doing something you like best” mean (Leslie, & Caldwell, 2011, p. 143). He
did not provide any of the answers that the assessment was looking for during the concept
questions. However, I have serious concerns about the validity of his answers because did
not seem to understand that he was supposed to give definitions for these terms, but

instead he told me how he feels about them. Initially, I thought this may be due to a lack
of vocabulary knowledge for the word “what”, but upon reviewing my anecdotal records
I determined that this was not the case because throughout interactive read alouds he has
been able to successfully answer questions. For the next part, he was asked to predict
what the story would be about based on the title of the passage and the concept questions,
for which he just repeated back the title of the passage.
The next portion of the narrative assessment was the actual reading of the
passage. During this part of the assessment, I recorded him reading the passage and took
notes on his miscues. For his miscues (or errors) his total accuracy was determined to be
instructional while his total acceptability was determined to be independent. He scored 54
correct words per minute, which is considered an acceptable level (Leslie, & Caldwell,
2011, p. 70). Next, I removed the passage from the student and asked him to retell the
text to me as if I had never heard it before, following the directions provided by the QRI
(Leslie, & Caldwell, 2011, p. 71). John was able to recall only 5 out of the 28 ideas from
the passage, which is considered to be a low score. For the comprehension questions, I
did not allow the student to refer to the passage when answering them and I clarified that
these questions were about the passage. He was able to answer four out of the five
comprehension questions correctly, which is considered an instructional level.
The second full QRI reading comprehension assessment I used was an expository
passage, “Who Lives Near Lakes?” (Leslie, & Caldwell, 2011, p. 167). The
implementation strategies for this assessment were identical to those for the narrative
passage. For this assessment, I had to move to a primer level assessment because there
were no expository assessments at the pre-primer level. John scored as being familiar

with the concept questions to assess background knowledge and vocabulary, confirming
my conclusion that John does not have difficulty with question words. His level of
miscues for this passage was frustrational, with more than 7 total miscues and more than
4 miscues that changed the meaning of the text. However, is words per minute were still
within the instructional range for this passage. For recalling the passage, he was able to
recall less than half of the aspects of the passage. He was able to recall that the passage
discussed turtles, he was unable to read the word “turtle” but recalled that turtles were in
the passage because the passage included a picture of a turtle. John was able to answer
three out of four explicit comprehension questions and none of the implicit
comprehension questions, this places him in the frustrational level for comprehension of
the passage.
The biggest conclusion that I have come to from these assessments of John‟s
reading comprehension is that his automatic word recognition, assessed through the
miscues in his reading, are greatly hindering his overall reading comprehension. For
example, the expository passage included a turtle but because John was unable to decode
the word turtle, had there not been a picture of a turtle his comprehension levels would
have been even lower.

Part 3: Lesson
Planning
In my lesson I chose to focus on using retelling to as a strategy to improve
listening comprehension (McKenna, & Stahl, 2009). As determined from my
comprehension assessments, my child study student‟s automatic word recognition hinders

his reading comprehension. For this lesson I wanted to ensure that I was focusing on
comprehension and so I chose to read the story to him instead of having him read the
story and address listening comprehension. I addressed listening comprehension in my
lesson by focusing in on retelling. I also addressed vocabulary, another facet of listening
comprehension.
The Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in
History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects states that students in first grade
should be able to retell stories using key details from the text (CCSS & NGA, 2010).
However, on the QRI assessments for reading comprehension, my child study student
was only able to recall 18% of the details from the narrative passage. Based on this data, I
wanted to see if with the opportunity to take notes would improve his retelling. To teach
retelling and vocabulary I chose to read a book and have the student draw pictures from
the book. Based on the student‟s automatic word recognition, spelling inventory, and
enthusiasm for activities involving drawing, I chose to have John take notes using
visualization by drawing his notes. One strategy for improving comprehension is to
visualize, which can be taught through drawing (McKenna, & Stahl, 2009). Visualizing
is considered to be a reading strategy, but it can also be used as a listening strategy. A
student will not always be listening to the passage, but will have to eventually read the
passages on his own. If he already has an understanding of strategies such as visualizing
in a listening context, it makes sense that it will be easier for him to transfer those
strategies to the context of reading.
Teaching

I began the lesson by introducing the book to John. We read the book, “Turtles in
My Sandbox” by Jennifer Keats Curtis. I told him that we were going to first read this
book and then do some activities with the story from the book. During this reading of the
book, I pointed out several vocabulary words. I chose words in the book that would be
considered Tier 2 words in the context of the book. These were words that helped the
student with comprehension of the story. The book also contained several Tier 3 words
that were not likely to be found outside of academic studies of turtles, such as “scutes”,
these words were not central to the comprehension of the story and so I did not teach
them. Because I had not done a previous assessment to determine which words would fall
into which tier specifically for my student, I began the instruction of each word by first
asking the student to tell me what the word meant. If he gave me an accurate synonym or
definition, I moved on. Otherwise, we briefly discussed the meaning of the word and
moved on. After finishing the book, I closed it and set it aside. I then recorded the student
as he retold as much as he could remember from the story. I did this so that I would have
an initial retelling to compare with his retelling at the end of the lesson.
Next, John and I went back through the book together. As we went through the
book a second time, he decided which aspects or details of the story were important and
he drew a picture of that on an index card. I numbered each index card on the back as he
finished a drawing. After we went through the book and he had finished his drawing, we
put the book away and mixed up the order of the cards. John was then able to put his
drawings in the correct order and use the cards to retell the story to me a second time, this
was recorded for comparison as well. Then, we put away his drawings and I recorded him
as he retold the story again from his memory.

On the day that we were completing this lesson, his class was watching a movie
so John was frustrated that he had to read instead of being able to watch the movie. This
was expressed through verbal complaints. It was also raining on that day, so there were
other students walking in the halls for recess since they couldn‟t go outside. I could see
that this was a distraction for John because he was watching the students walking, we had
to move to a different hallway.
Reflecting
Overall, I think that the lesson went really well. Especially given the distractions
that we experienced from students in the hall and a movie playing in the classroom. He
had some difficulty focusing on the lesson but was able to work through it and still show
improvements in his retelling of the story. When we were going back through the book
and he was taking his notes, I had considered rereading the book to him as he drew, but I
was concerned then that any improvements in retelling the story might come from
rereading instead of visualizing through his notes. In all honesty, I didn‟t decide until I
was at that point in the lesson how I wanted to do it. I ended up just letting him use the
pictures in the book to assist his visualizing because of his lack of motivation, I did not
think he would have the patience to listen to the story again and gain anything from the
reading. I think that it would be really interesting though, if I were to do the lesson again,
to try rereading the words to him to see how that impacted the results in his retelling of
the story.
During his first retelling of the story, I counted 9 idea statements, most of which
were about the names of turtles. In the second retelling, he was able to recall 12 ideas
from the story that were more specific than the first. For example, in the first retelling he

simply said “eggs hatch” but in the last retelling he said “her and her mom were looking
at them to watch them in case they hatch.” So, compared to the first retelling, during the
last retelling the student was able to remember more aspects of the story and more
detailed aspects.
In this lesson, I learned that John‟s motivation toward literacy development is
drastically decreased when he knows that he could be doing something perceived to be
more fun, like watching a movie with his class. He seemed to really enjoy drawing
pictures from the books, but as the activity went on his drawings had fewer details and he
drew them faster, telling me that he was losing his motivation to continue drawing parts
of the book. However, I think that giving him the opportunity to draw his own pictures
also gave him the opportunity to review the book and so it was still a better learning
experience than had I used premade pictures.