How to Win in Court ... Step-by-Step!

California State University, Fullerton Student Name: Gonzalez Jr, Salvador Venegas Student Number: 894662873 DATE PRINTED: 01/24/2011

Fieldwork Summary for Module 3
The concept of struggling readers is a phenomenon that nearly all teachers have to deal with at one time or another. Research suggests struggling readers fit into one of the following three categories: (1) Students who expend so much energy decoding printed words that they fail to derive any meaning (2) Students who can understand what is being read to them in spite of their limited word recognition skills (3) Students who are able to decode sentences but fail to activate their schema and thus do not interact with the text to “make meaning, expand on them, or provide a critique or even a summary” (Harrel, 2008) Struggling readers may be from low socioeconomic levels and have fewer books in their homes as well as in their school libraries (Lewis, 2006). They may have different cultural uses of literacy and different experiences with literacy before entering school (Herrell, 2004), or may be nonnative speakers of English (Gullaume, 2008;Herrell, 2008;Echevarra, 2007). All of these variables affect the success of a student as a reader. The traditional approach to remedying the struggling reader’s “deficit” in literacy skills is to teach the basics through skills-based instruction, acting out words, manipultives, role-play, and RELIA (Herrell, 2007). Some well-known reports (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 2000; Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998) have advocated that students should improve their basic skills first in order for comprehension to naturally take place. In other words, for comprehension to occur students must understand the sound–symbol relationship, become fluent decoders, and develop fluency. However, reading for understanding is much more complicated than simply being able to decode text quickly. Reading involves making meaning from the very beginning by activating mental pictures (schema), deciphering the meanings of the written word, and recognizing patterns. If a student needs direct instruction in sound–symbol relationships, it should be done within the context of what the student is reading (Herrell, A.L. & Jordan M, 2008). Herrell and Jordan (2008) stated that it is “important to promote the awareness of how literacy fits with life issues such as career goals and personal fulfillment”. In other words, reading is something one does to enhance one’s life, not just to answer questions at the end of a passage to kill time or

How to Win in Court ... Step-by-Step! keep the Substitute busy. The number of ELLs in the U.S. Public school system has increased significantly. From 1991 to 2001, the number of ELLs enrolled in U.S. schools increased by 95%; the total school population only increased by 12%. During this time, 35% of the ELLs were enrolled in the middle grades (grades 6–8) and 19% were enrolled in high school; and as of this writing Latino students are the majority in the California Public School system (National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition, 2002). The experience that adolescent ELLs have is uniquely different from that of their younger counterparts and from nonimmigrant native English speakers. In her ethnography of a high school with immigrants representing over 24% of the student population, Olsen (1997) described the high school immigrant experience: “The logistics of schooling can be problematic. Bells ring and everyone moves around, lockers need to be opened, and food bought in cafeterias. Moving from class to class in large schools, few students are able to develop close relationships with any one teacher. With thinking and learning processes shaped by other cultural and national backgrounds, they need to figure out how we teach and learn in U.S. schools. Speaking out in class, participating in discussions, the relative informality between teacher and students are all quite foreign to students who have been educated in other cultures and nations.” (p. 155) Life is difficult enough for any teenager, but to add a new culture, a different language, a different school system, different teaching styles and expectations, new friends, and an altogether different environment compounds the difficulties that adolescent immigrant students must deal with in order to be academically successful Lewis, Doorlag (2006). Most researchers stress the importance of knowing our ELL students and their educational backgrounds before we can fully appreciate the resources that they bring to the classroom, due to the influence that the literacy level in the first language has on becoming literate in English. For Mario, an ESL student observed in the field, being a struggling reader didn't mean that he was reading in English at a level much ower than his grade level, but that he apparently had not found an internal purpose for reading. When I would ask him to read a passage, he would read it on command; however, it was without emotion or interest. When asked what he had read, he would have to reread the passage to himself to come up with an answer. This would occur whether I asked him to read silently or aloud. I classified him as a struggling reader for the following four reasons.

How to Win in Court ... Step-by-Step! 1. He had not learned to read strategically. In other words, he did not use any reading strategies (such as using context to figure out a word’s meaning) to assist him when reading. 2. He found no purpose for reading except to read because a teacher told him to do so. 3. He had failed the previous year’s English class. 4. He did not read for meaning. This last reason was included because on first and second reads of a passage, he was simply decoding. Little, if any, meaning was being made by Mario when reading. Mario arrived in the United States in the second grade from Mexico. His father, who had come to the United States earlier, had sent money to Mexico for Mario and his siblings to take English classes in preparation for when they would follow him. Even though Mario had studied some English in private classes in Mexico, he perceived his ability to communicate in English with his U.S. teachers and peers upon arrival as limited. Mario was placed in the English as a Second Language program because he had failed English the previous semester. When working with him this summer, I noticed that his vocabulary was limited. At one point I switched languages to say that if he wanted, I would be happy to speak with him in Spanish. He thanked me politely, but we rarely spoke Spanish again, and we never appeared to have difficulty understanding each other. Although Mario had hoped to exit the English as a second language (ESL) program before entering high school and be deemed fully English proficient through examination, it is a common phenomenon among mainstreamed ESL students to continue to have numerous transition difficulties as well as difficulties with English. Mario told me that he had liked school in Mexico, but that when he arrived in the United States it became less interesting to him. Perhaps it was that his English was not at the level of his peers in class or because his friends did not value education.Whatever the case, he did have a strong determination to graduate from high school and prove to his family and to himself that he would make something of his life, as shown in the following journal entry: I think that people are sort of stupid if they judge people for their appearance because I went through all that because I am the only one in my whole family that dresses baggy and all of my uncles always said that I was never going to be something in life, but I thank God for that because that’s what keeps me going to prove them wrong. That is also why sometimes I try so hard to keep going. Hopefully, I will go to the be able to go traveling, and, so that my children can

How to Win in Court ... Step-by-Step! say something about. In terms of learning strategies, I had wanted to make the readings more relevant to Mario, so I started looking for newspaper and magazine articles pertaining to the military because he was interested in going into the Marines after graduation. Interest and background knowledge are two factors that enable students to read beyond what is considered their normal reading level. Mario found the articles motivating and our discussions of the readings during this period moved from factual points to stating opinions. He started making comments about the readings, such as “I didn’t know that” and “That is interesting.” I first had him read the short articles aloud to me (sometimes silently to himself), and then we would discuss the article. Sometimes, I had him do “think-alouds” as described above and used that as the prompt for discussion. I would occasionally have Mario read parts of the high-interest articles repeatedly for fluency practice. Once he was able to read the passage at a fast pace, we would stop.We used this as a kind of mental rest during the lessons. He would inevitably smile when we finished this practice because he was able to see how fast he could decode the words. Another activity that I did with Mario was to have him make connections with the text.We read a book on the life of the boxer Julio César Chávez. He would read it aloud or silently and then write the main idea of what he had just read. I would have him make text-to-self, text-totext, and text-to-world connections. For example, Chávez was raised in the same town in Mexico as Mario. In addition,Mario was very interested in boxing and was very quick to make the connection of the two of them being boxers.When reading a story of how Chávez had a boxing match in Mexico City and the whole theater was “going crazy,”Mario began speculating how he would have dealt with the situation. In this case he was not only making a personal connection, but was also empathizing with the character in the story, two very important parts of living in the “story world” and two very important reading habits that he did not have when we first began working together. He took the book home with him over one weekend to practice his note-taking skills and came back very excited because of all the good deeds that Chávez had done for his community, where Mario had grown up. However, he had difficulty reading this book, too. I discovered this because the notes he wrote in his dialogue journal did not come from the book, but from conversations with his father. Now, how did this happen? How did Mario become more confident and motivated in

How to Win in Court ... Step-by-Step! his reading? Although I cannot say conclusively, I can say that his improvement in reading began with the jumpstart he received in the summer literacy program and then was reinforced by other incidents afterward – coupled with his one on one [individualized] reading lesson plans this fall. During his summer literacy program, tutors worked with Mario on creating images in his mind of what he was reading. From that strategy, the biography project, numerous discussions with me about reading, and connections he made with the text, Mario was introduced to the world of story. Reading was no longer just reading aloud for the teacher or answering questions at the end of the passage, reading offered the opportunity of pleasure and learning from a printed text. The importance of tutoring and building on prior knowledge to the success of struggling readers is clearly demonstrated, especially when the acronym ELL is added after the word struggling. Looking at the reasons why I labeled Mario a struggling reader, I can honestly now say that he no longer fits this label. He enjoys reading, he creates meaning and images when he reads, and he transacts with the text. For what better kind of reader could a teacher ask? // How To Win in Court...Step-by-Step! Jurisdictionary®

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