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Running head: FIRST-GRADE STRUGGLING READERS PROJECT DEFINITION 1

First-Grade Struggling Readers Project Definition

Nuong Nguyen

California State University, Monterey Bay

Cohort MIST XII

IST 522 Instructional Design

Dr. Jeanne Farrington

Fall 2017
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First-Grade Struggling Readers Project Definition

First-grade students at John E. Steinbeck School are not meeting the Common Core State

Standards (CCSS) for reading. According to the first-grade reading standards, students should

be able to read short and long vowels, digraphs, words with inflectional endings, and two-

syllable words by the end of the school year (2017). This capstone project stems from a current

need for explicit instruction of first graders on reading strategies that will help them improve on

their reading fluency and decoding skills.

Students will use a blended learning approach with self-paced e-learning modules which

includes lessons, practice, and test options in combination with direct instruction from their

classroom teacher. The teacher will introduce the different learning strategies, then students will

participate in group activities. Afterwards, the students will complete the e-learning module.

Each learning module will present one reading strategy. The reading strategies will include:

looking at pictures, making each phoneme sound, stretching out the sound, changing the vowel

sound, breaking up the words into syllables or word families, rereading, and using context clues

to figure out the words. At the end of each module, students will earn a certificate to

acknowledge their achievement.

Needs Assessment Results

The needs assessment includes students’ test scores from the Developmental Reading

Assessment (DRA), observations, informal discussions, and a staff survey to show students are

reading below grade level and that there is a need for explicit instruction on reading strategies.

The needs assessment shows that the first graders are not reading at grade level. Students

should be reading at a level 18 on the Developmental Reading Assessment; however, 41% of the
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first graders scored below grade leve1, and half of those students are only able to read words

with short and long vowels sounds fluently. In order to be successful, students also have to be

able to read digraphs, words with inflectional endings, and two syllable words (Common Core

State Standards, 2017). From my observation of 21 students, about one-third only knew one or

two reading strategies while decoding words and were struggling to progress to a harder DRA

level.

Through informal discussions with the second-grade teachers in the teachers’ lounge, I

learned the same students who were struggling with reading in first-grade are still struggling this

year in second-grade. The teachers also mentioned that the students reading below grade level

are not using strategies to help them decode the words while reading. It is crucial that students

receive the foundational reading skills in first-grade in order improve their reading fluency and

meet the DRA level target.

Based on the survey of nine questions, most of the teachers felt students were not reading

at grade level when they entered their class (see Appendix A). The survey showed more teachers

were dissatisfied with their students’ reading ability. As for instruction time, teachers spent less

time teaching phonics as the grade levels increased. In addition, half of the teachers surveyed

spent less than 35 minutes teaching reading strategies. However, all of the participants felt there

is a need to teach students reading strategies explicitly to help students improve their decoding

skills. The teachers also felt students were capable of improving their reading skills through

instruction, practice, home support, proper foundation, and motivation (see Appendix A for

survey results).

From the DRA results and survey, students are struggling to read due to a lack of

knowledge and skill. The growing number of students makes it harder for teachers to
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individualize instruction. The average class size for first-grade this year is 26 students per

teacher with the upper grades having even more students that can range up to 35 students. An e-

learning module would be a better solution to help students learn the different reading strategies

at their own pace instead of a teacher delivering the content to the whole class all at once.

Furthermore, students can access the learning module at the beginning of each semester to help

them review the reading strategies and commit it to their long-term memory.

The context analysis shows that the best learning environment for the students is in the

classroom. Students have access to seven laptops with headphones. While we do have a

computer lab, it is also connected to the library and can be distracting as other classes occupy the

room at the same time. Therefore, it is best to have students complete the e-module inside the

classroom where it is quiet, and students can focus better. Furthermore, students will work in

small groups which will allow the teacher to assist them with questions.

Goals for the John E. Steinbeck School

The goal of John E. Steinbeck School is to ensure students meet the Common Core State

Standards for reading at each grade level. If students are reading at grade level and building their

foundational reading skills now, this will help reduce the amount of students that will later need

reading interventions programs, like Read 180 and System 44. Also, if students are able to read

fluently, this will in turn help them with their reading comprehension. According to the Smarter

Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test results, 47% of third graders are not meeting the

standards for language arts and literacy. This shows that it is crucial students develop literacy

skills at an early age.

Goals for the First Graders


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The main goals for the first graders are to build fluency and automaticity while reading.

Students should:

 meet the first-grade Common Core State Standards for reading (see Appendix B),

 be able to read short and long vowels, digraphs, words with inflectional endings, and

two-syllable words,

 pass the DRA test at level 18,

 and utilize multiple strategies to help them improve their decoding skills and fluency.

The reading strategies include: looking at pictures, making each phoneme sound,

stretching out the sound, changing the vowel sound, breaking up the words into syllables

or word families, rereading, and using context clues to figure out the words.

Learner Analysis

John E. Steinbeck is a title I school with a high percentage of low-income students. The

majority of the students at John E. Steinbeck are Hispanic, and about 48% of the first graders are

English learners. However, according to the DRA scores, only 14% of the English learners are

struggling to read. The majority of the students can understand and speak English. In order to

meet the needs of all the students, the reading strategies will be paired with pictures, and there

will be lots of visuals in the e-learning module. In addition, the teachers can assist students by

translating less common English words into Spanish, if needed.

First-grade students range from age 6 to 8. They have a range of reading skills from

knowing some alphabet sounds to being able to read words with shorts and long vowels. The

majority of the students can typically apply one to two reading strategies while reading. It is

typical at this age to have trouble recognizing the letters b, d, q, and p. Also, some students have
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trouble with concepts of prints, like reading left to right and understanding sounds make up

words. This is the reason why teachers review concepts of prints and the alphabet names and

sounds at the start of the year. Also, incoming first graders are expected to read at a level 4 on

the DRA, which includes short vowels, common high-frequency words, and some long vowels;

however, over one-third of the students are reading at level 1 which includes words like “no” and

“yes.”

Students at this age have short attention span; therefore it is important to use instructional

time wisely. Teachers should activate students’ prior knowledge and help them make

connections. Since students like animals, each learning strategies in the e-learning module will

be paired with an animal to help students remember and connect the information. For example,

“Chunky Monkey” will help students to remember to look for a chunk or word family like –at or

–it to help them decode the words (Jones, 2016). The animal is not only a good memory aid, but

will also make learning fun and grab the students’ attention.

Learners’ attitudes towards reading vary from enjoyment to dreading the task. Most

students enjoy being read to. In my experience as a teacher of 7 years, students whose parents

read to them at home tend to enjoy reading and have a better understanding of concepts of print.

Most students enjoy being on the computer. Students have some experience with learning on the

computer through websites like Starfall, Lexia Core5, and Symphony Math.

Logistical Information

The students will focus on one reading strategy each week through the e-learning module

and direct instruction. There will be seven modules for each of the learning strategies. The e-

learning module will take approximately 8 hours to complete over 7 weeks. There will be an
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hour to take the pre- and post-test. The students will spend 30 minutes on each lesson. The

students will repeat the lessons twice to help them commit it to their long-term memory. The

teacher can extend the time if needed.

Conclusion

This capstone project aims to help students learn how to read using multiple strategies.

An e-learning module will be beneficial to the students, since they can learn at their own rate and

be able to practice the skills multiple times in conjunction with classroom instruction. The e-

module will present information in small chunks with memory aids, like animals, and unique

names to help reduce cognitive load. Students are not reading at grade level, and it is essential

students learn these literacy skills at an early age in order to be successful readers.
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Reference

California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress. (2017). Test results for English

language arts/literacy and mathematics. Retrieved from

http://caaspp.cde.ca.gov/sb2017/ViewReport?ps=true&lstTestYear=2017&lstTestType=

B&lstGroup=1&lstCounty=27&lstDistrict=65961-000&lstSchool=6109466

Jones, K (2016). Guided reading. Retrieved from

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Guided-Reading-1st-GRADE-BUNDLE-

Levels-F-J-2416868

National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and Council of Chief State School

Officers. (2017). Common core state standards for English language arts reading:

Foundational skills, first grade. Retrieved from http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-

Literacy/RF/1/
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Appendix A: Survey Questions Results

1. What is your job title? (10 teachers)


(8 multiple subject teachers, 1 special day class teacher, 1 reading specialist)

2. How many years have you been teaching?


0-9 years (4) 10-19 (2) 20-29 (1) 30-39 (3)

3. Do you feel like your students are reading at grade level?


Strongly disagree (2) disagree (4) neither agree agree (2) strongly agree
nor disagree (2)

4. How satisfied are you with your students’ reading ability?


Very dissatisfied (1) dissatisfied (3) neither satisfied satisfied (3) very satisfied
nor dissatisfied
(3)

5. How much time do you spend a teaching phonics in a day?

0-35 mins (4) 36-71 mins (4) 71-106 mins (2)

6. How much time do you spend teaching reading strategies explicitly in a day?
0-35 mins (5) 36-71 mins (3) 71-106 mins (2)

7. Do you feel there is a need to teach students reading strategies explicitly?

strongly disagree disagree neither agree agree (1) strongly agree


nor disagree (9)

8. Do you think teaching students reading strategies explicitly will improve their decoding
skills?

strongly disagree disagree neither agree agree (4) strongly agree


nor disagree (6)

9. Do you feel like students are capable of improving their reading skills? If yes, how?
-Yes, with instruction and practice with comprehensible input.
-With more motivation, parent support and with me teaching reading strategies more
explicitly.
-Yes, through explicit direct instruction.
-Yes explicit direct instructions, small group instructions, guided reading groups, intervention.
-Yes however slower than the typical child without disabilities.
-Yes, with the proper foundation they will flourish.
-Home support.
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-Practice, presentation
-Yes, need more practice in small groups.
-Yes! Repeat, practice, practice, practice

Appendix B: Common Core State Standards for Reading

Phonics and Word Recognition:


CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.1.3
Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.1.3.A
Know the spelling-sound correspondences for common consonant digraphs.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.1.3.B
Decode regularly spelled one-syllable words.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.1.3.C
Know final -e and common vowel team conventions for representing long vowel sounds.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.1.3.D
Use knowledge that every syllable must have a vowel sound to determine the number of
syllables in a printed word.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.1.3.E
Decode two-syllable words following basic patterns by breaking the words into syllables.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.1.3.F
Read words with inflectional endings.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.1.3.G
Recognize and read grade-appropriate irregularly spelled words.

Fluency:
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.1.4
Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.1.4.A
Read grade-level text with purpose and understanding.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.1.4.B
Read grade-level text orally with accuracy, appropriate rate, and expression on successive
readings.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.1.4.C
Use context to confirm or self-correct word recognition and understanding, rereading as
necessary.