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5, 2006 Reaction Paper SPED 446 Henry Willette Diana Smith
Prior to working in the classroom at Landmark School, I believed the purpose of the reading strategies we were working with was to teach students reading so they could understand the content in their classes. Now, after being a “veteran” of teaching at Landmark for four months, I have learned that while the goal of teaching reading strategies is to help the student understand the material, the bigger purpose is to teach the students how to learn. The strategies I applied during this time were used not only to help the student learn new material, but to help the student understand why they were using this strategy and understand how it helped them learn. I used several strategies to help my student improve his reading comprehension including pre-reading, during and post reading strategies, however, for the purpose of this paper, I will be looking at the following four reading strategies: two-column notes, shared reading, a purpose for reading, and activating prior knowledge. Understanding that introducing a strategy was not enough, I attempted to pick strategies that were most applicable to Andrew’s weaknesses, to provide feedback to him as to why we were using a particular strategy, how effective it was, and to share with Andrew on a ongoing basis how and why each strategy was working. First, I used the pre-reading strategy of developing a purpose for reading. Without a purpose, poor readers tend to read the material and not understand what they read or why they read it. To improve Andrew’s reading comprehension, it was important for him to establish a reason for reading. Knowing that ahead of time would not only give Andrew a purpose, but it would help shape how he read the book, what he would be looking for, and tap into his background knowledge to make connections. Before having Andrew
establish a purpose, however, I needed him to understand why developing a purpose to reading was important. To get started, I selected a short story called House. It was a story about two boys who are thinking about skipping school for the day and going to one of their houses to hang out. Initially, I asked Andrew to read the story and underline anything he thought was important. He did not ask me what he should be looking for, or what I thought was important. I gave him no other directions. When he was finished, he had many, many items underlined. Next, I asked Andrew to reread the story. Using a blue highlighter, I asked him to highlight any information that might be important if I was a real estate agent trying to sell this house. He now had a purpose. He finished the story, and the blue highlighted parts focused on things such as location of the property, descriptions of the interior/exterior of the house, etc. Next, I had Andrew use a yellow highlighter to underline parts that would be important if I was planning on robbing the house. When he finished, we looked at the colorful article. I asked him which task was the most difficult. He stated the first one. We discussed the reason this was hardest was that he did not know what was important; he did not have a purpose. This exercise clearly helped Andrew make the connection between reading and setting a purpose. Therefore, knowing the outcome (purpose) of reading The Hungry Ocean was important for Andrew to know before we started reading. Now that he had a purpose for reading, and understood why it was important, I had him set up two-column notes, which he would be using throughout the readings. This strategy is so important for many reasons. It helps with short-term memory because the reader is actively involved with the material. attention. Prior to starting the book, we delved into Andrew’s prior knowledge about the subject. I asked him if he had read any material by the same author (which he had), if he had read similar stories (which he had), if he knew of the subject on a personal level. As he fishes, he did have some knowledge about the subject. I also had Andrew read the cover and He is organizing it, asking questions about it, making predictions, and integrating it with his prior knowledge. It also helps keep his
the back of the book. I asked him to predict what the story might be about. I also asked him to think of questions about the story as we read the story. Next, we talked about prior knowledge and in thinking about this and the predictions and questions; he was able to formulate an idea about the book and what it might be about. He wrote these in his notes. As we progressed through the story, he was able to make even more connections. This also helped him predict what might happen next, and speculate how certain characters might react to certain situations. By writing these things down right after he read them, we are working on improving his short-term memory. One of Andrew’s cognitive weaknesses is his short-term memory. His working memory is sufficient, but once he has finished whatever it is he has read, he can rarely recall or use any of the material presented. Aside from setting a purpose for reading, by using this strategy, Andrew was able to make connections to his life and the reading. To implement the shared reading strategy, we took turns reading sections of the story, and then stopped, summarized, asked questions and predicted. Andrew would write down notes based on this discussion in his two-column notes. This is the point of time where Andrew can ask questions, clear up anything that was confusing, define words he did not understand, and make connections to prior readings through instructor guidance. This strategy required Andrew to really pay attention to the reading because not only does he know we will be discussing it, but he is looking for certain things (character development, sequence of events, etc.). He will also be asked to ask questions and make predictions. We have not finished reading the book; however, it is already clear that these strategies help Andrew approach reading differently and with more intention. His oral expression (which I hear whenever he summarizes and shares his thoughts after reading) is more indepth and contains more details. He has learned the importance of, and understands why having a purpose before he reads is necessary to better understanding of the material. Using two column notes with a purpose has helped Andrew to focus in on what he is reading and to better interact with the material.
While shared reading, he has come up with relevant and appropriate questions. His thoughts are more organized. He understands the material better. When I have asked him to give me a summary of what has happened so far (not just after one reading), he is able to do so. In conclusion, it is imperative to not only implement the use of reading strategies to improve a student’s reading deficiencies, but to understand why you are using the particular ones you are using. There must be a plan. While the student is applying the different strategies, it is important for the student to understand why he is using a particular strategy, and how this strategy is helping to build his reading skills. He should also be aware that the very act of using these strategies to gather, then process and manipulate the data helps build his cognitive skills. These skills include short-term memory, working memory, attention, visual, auditory and language processing, as well as comprehension.