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Developmental Reading: Final Responses

Think of one of the lessons you planned and taught during the EDUC 342
Developmental Reading practicum. Next, respond to the following prompts.

1. Describe the theories that guide the effective teaching of reading? What
evidence of these theories was present in your setting? (Ch. 1)
There are many theories that guide effective teaching of reading. The first theory
is behaviorism. This focuses on the observation of students. It also focuses on the
teacher providing instructional input followed by the students participating in
supervised practice. In literature instruction, this is presented through basal
readers, mini lessons, repeated readings, and worksheets. In my experience, this
was presented through the teacher’s (and my) use of mini lessons followed by
activities to strengthen understanding of the given topics.
The next theory is constructivism. This involves students forming their own
knowledge and understanding. It emphasizes background knowledge and allows
students to collaborate to find solutions. In reading instruction, this is presented
through the use of literature focus units, K-W-L charts, learning logs, thematic units,
and word sorts. I used a moderately constructivist approach in one lesson where we
worked on classifying. The students had to figure out how to classify the notecards
(which contained animals, modes of transportation, and nature objects). Although it
took a little prompting, the students did figure out how to classify the objects in the
end by using their background knowledge and collaboration with their peers.
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The next theory is sociolinguistics. This emphasizes language, social interaction,
authentic activities, and scaffolding to improve learning. It also focuses on
improving cultural and social understanding. This is encouraged in reading
activities through literature circles, shared reading, questioning the author, reading
and writing workshop, and Author’s chair. Although I didn’t use this approach much
in my mini lessons, I did see my cooperating teacher use the concepts of “author’s
chair.” After the students wrote in their journals, they were allowed to share. This
followed this approach because it showed students how to be good listeners and
learn from their peers.
The final theory is information processing. This approach compares the mind to
a computer. It involves integrating reading and writing to improve understanding. It
allows each student to interpret the reading in their own way. In reading
instruction, this is done through guided reading, graphic organizers, grand
conversations, interactive writing, and reading logs. The concept of grand
conversation was very appropriate for kindergarten. Although the students couldn’t
all read the story that the teacher read to the class, they were all able to discuss the
book and present their own ideas. I used a smaller version of grand conversation in
each of my lessons by discussing the theme and main points of the story with my
small group.

2. Describe the lesson in depth. What reading concepts were taught? How did
you help the students connect this to their reading in everyday life?
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The lesson that I am focusing on is the lesson that I did using the book The
Easter Egg Hunt. By reading this book and doing a couple of activities, we
learned more about the reading strategies of classifying objects and connecting
prior knowledge. We started the lesson by talking about the word “classify” and
dividing nine notecards into groups by color. We then moved on to classifying
objects that were seen in the story. These objects included animals,
transportation, and objects of nature.
We then read the story. Throughout the story, we talked about our own
experiences with Easter egg hunts. This helped us to understand what was
happening in the story and how the characters were feeling throughout the
story. By connecting the story to our own experiences, the students enjoyed the
story more. We also talked about how bringing in our own experiences would
help to both understand and enjoy future stories. By talking about this, I think
that the students understood that connecting prior knowledge would be of
benefit to them in their future readings.

3. What instructional activities were used? Describe the use of technology.
The instructional activities that I used were classifying notecards (by color)
and classifying cards (by common theme). This activity introduced the students
to the story in a hands-on way. By doing so, the students were more involved
throughout the story. I didn’t use any technology as we were out in the hallway.
However, I did find the book and resources from Reading A-Z. In my actual
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classroom, I may be able to include more of the technology features of reading A-
Z. However, it wasn’t necessary or feasible for this lesson.

4. Describe how you were able to differentiate instruction for the students in
your group. What was changed to meet individual abilities, prior
learning/experiences, language and/or culture? (ch. 11)
Although the students in my group were all officially on level C, each
student read at a different pace. One student was a very good reader. Another
student depended greatly on the pictures to read the text. I started reading
along with the students a little more to encourage their participation. By
doing so, the two children that were a little farther behind were more
comfortable with reading aloud.
Because I know that it is difficult for students to understand the
content of a text when they are simply trying to get the words right, I started
having the students stop every few pages to clarify what was happening in
the story. Because one child was a lot faster than the other two, they would
often lose their places. I think that by stopping every few pages, it made it
easier for the students to follow along. It also ensured that each student
understood what was happening in the story. Because it was difficult to
differentiate to individual needs in my short lesson, it was more effective to
make changes that would benefit the whole group.

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5. Describe the variety of instructional materials, technological resources,
and/or teaching strategies used during the lesson.
I used notecards and picture cards at the beginning of my lesson. By
using these, I introduced the students to the concept of classifying based on
similarities. I also printed off a book for from Reading A-Z for each student to
read, follow along with, and take home with them.
The main teaching strategy that I used was “Think-Aloud.” I used this
in my A-Set to lead students in the right direction. The student presented
their ideas and I built on them to lead them towards how to classify. I also
used this a lot during the reading of the story. By adding in my own
background knowledge, the students felt like they could as well. As the story
progressed, the students talked about their own Easter egg hiding places,
their own Easter stories, and their emotions while going on Easter Egg Hunts.
By doing so, they were better able to understand the emotions of the
characters and the content of the story.

6. Describe how you encouraged active engagement during the lesson. What
techniques were used to encourage appropriate communication?
The main thing that I did was to encourage every student to communicate.
When I noticed that one student was talking a lot more than another, I would be
sure to ask another student what their opinion was. I also started each lesson
with an open question or quick activity. By doing so, the students were more
motivated to participate throughout the lesson.
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I also paid close attention to the amount of attention that the students were
paying to the lesson and to the story. Because the students were kindergartners and
had the attention span of kindergarteners, I paid close attention to their levels of
engagement. When I noticed that they were starting to get a little antsy, we started
to wrap up the lesson. Although we did hit our learning targets, our lessons were
short. By keeping the lessons short, I think that the engagement was maintained
throughout a majority of the lesson.

7. Describe the form of assessment used to monitor student learning. How were
you able to determine if students met the learning targets?
The main assessment that I used throughout my lesson was verbal/informal
assessment. On this lesson, the students were able to demonstrate their
classification skills by classifying the notecards and picture cards. They also
demonstrated the skill of connecting prior knowledge throughout the story. They
were able to connect their prior knowledge of their emotions while doing an Easter
egg hunt to how the characters of the story were probably feeling at the time. By
doing so, they were able to show me that they were capable of classifying and
connecting prior knowledge and, therefore; had learned the necessary learning
targets.