Rebecca Williams CI 475 – C5 10/2011 Individual Child Assessment Project The Individual Child Assessment Project provided a fantastic

opportunity to take an in depth look at the reading ability of one student. In a classroom full of students, it was a luxury to set time aside each day for a couple of weeks to focus all of the attention on this one student. This paper will explain the student who was selected, analyze and reflect on the data that was collected, and end with recommendations for the student. In the appendix to this paper are my observational notes, an interview with my coop, Travis’s DRA2 scores, a class distribution of AIMSweb scores, a timed reading chart that will be continued throughout the year, a running record, and several writing samples of Travis’s including continued drafts of the same narrative. The student who was selected did not know he was being observed or getting any special attention for the first several weeks. It was a goal of mine to not single him out or have him see this as a negative towards his reading ability. When the time came for his reading attitude survey, it was explained to him that he was helping research for a class at the University of Illinois, and he was beyond excited about it. This current placement is in a third grade gifted classroom, so it originally seemed like this project would be difficult to accomplish. Typically, gifted classes are comprised of students who excel in the core content areas of reading and math, among other areas,

so it was quite surprising to find a student in the class who met the criteria of a student performing below grade level. The student that my cooperating teacher (co-op) helped me select is named Travis. He is one of the most kind-hearted students in the class, but this child struggles with reading. Travis has created a unique situation having been placed in the gifted class in second grade. Stratton has a set of tests covering multiple areas for entry into the gifted program, and even though Travis is a struggling reader, he excels in other subjects, especially math. Through talking informally with his second grade gifted teacher and my co-op, I learned that Travis lives with his family in addition to a few members of his extended family. While they have enough to make ends meet, they do not have much beyond that. Travis is one of many in his house and does not get much attention. Help or encouragement with his school work solely happens at school from his teacher, so it is not too surprising that he is struggling. Individual conversations with Travis uncovered that he only reads at home when there are assignments in their Reading Logs, and it is never with his mom or dad. I believe that with more practice and support, Travis could be very successful in reading and school. He has an amazing positive attitude that enchants the people he encounters. I have never once had an issue with his behavior or a lack of trying. Travis is so willing to please, and it is inspiring to me how much he wants to do well. He is always eager to keep pushing through, and I believe that is why he has remained in the gifted program.

Even through Travis has trouble reading, I do not think he knows it. He has told me multiple times and in his attitude survey that he loves to read. Though many books he reads are too difficult for him, he always enjoys what he is reading. Travis has real difficulty with decoding words as he is reading a book. While observing from afar on September 29, I wrote in my notes that it took him nearly fifteen minutes to turn the page of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Something remarkable about Travis though, is that even with his lack of decoding skills and fluency, his comprehension is fairly high. Even after taking ten minutes on one page, if I asked him about it, he could give me details about the events/characters and/or summarize what had happened. Observing Travis has helped me gain a true picture of who he is as a reader. Travis mainly has trouble with decoding words and fluency. When I initially asked my cooperating teacher what some of his weaknesses were, she already had quite a list, mostly thanks to her talk with his previous teacher. She said that Travis has trouble decoding words, lacks proper word endings often, does not always make sense, poor fluency, moderate comprehension, and is below grade level. That is some list to have within the first two weeks of school. While I do agree with most of it after observing Travis for so long, it may have been unfair of my cooperating teacher to judge him so harshly right away. I did my best to not let what my co-op said sway my judgments of Travis. His work ethic is extraordinary, which would help anyone struggling in a subject. Travis never gives up while he is reading. I found out some of the

most helpful information for this project while doing a short attitude questionnaire (attached in appendix) with Travis. I asked him many simple questions like “What’s your favorite genre? Do you have a favorite book? How much time do you spend reading each night? How easy/hard would you rate reading on a scale of 1-10? What’s the hardest part about reading for you and why? Do you like to write?” He had some great answers that showed his passion for reading, but also answered some questions I had. He loves to read because it “makes me smarter.” Before answering these questions, I explained in kid-friendly language that this was only for my use and it would help me so much if he answered as honestly as possible, no penalties. He said that he finds reading to be a 6 (on a scale of 1 easy to 10 hard) because “sometimes big words are hard and trip me up.” He had a particularly insightful answer to my question of what is the hardest part of reading for him: “I don’t know a lot of words, so then I don’t know what the story is about.” He was completely right with that answer. His decoding challenges create a problem for him while simply trying to read the words. Afterwards, I told him that I admired his honesty and thanked him, and this child just beams when he is given any form of positive praise. It was rewarding for both of us. Travis and I have been lucky to share time reading aloud from his selfselected books during silent reading time some days. His reading is very choppy and slow as he tries to read each word. He could use more help with decoding strategies and more practice overall. Like I mentioned before, it

really is amazing that he comprehends as much as he does with the rate of his reading. In the appendix, I included a running record, DRA2 and AIMSweb results that all conclude that Travis has a very low word per minute (WPM) rate and thus needs to improve his fluency. The DRA2 assessment showed Travis as a Level 18 reader when entry level third graders are expected to be at a Level 28. His accuracy was 95%, but the rest was so low. This page gives recommendations for teachers to focus on, and they included increasing rate through practice, supporting and reinforcing self-corrections of miscues for accuracy, and helping the student identify important information in a story for reflection. I find those to be relevant suggestions for this student, particularly the one involving increasing his reading rate for fluency. The AIMSweb assessment was given school wide about 5 weeks into the year. According to this assessment, Travis obtained a DRA score of 28, which meets the third grade entry level. This is very different from the Level 18 he received on the DRA2 assessment. Travis is the lowest reader in our gifted class by reading only 49 words, with 8 mistakes, in the time provided. AIMSweb was a new assessment done in Champaign Unit 4, and it involved each child being tested individually by a trained specialist. They were given a passage based on grade level and told to read a quickly and accurately as possible. There were no comprehension questions or anything else after the reading, so this test was only to see reading rate and accuracy. As can be seen on the attachment in the appendix, Travis was put in the “well below

average” category with the advice to “begin immediate problem solving.” It is fascinating that Response to Intervention (RtI) reading groups at Stratton (at least in third grade) were based on these scores. The students in the “average,” “below average,” and “well below average” categories all leave our gifted class during the thirty minute RtI time everyday, and approximately four or five students from other classes come joining our class. It is an interesting chance for students to intermingle a bit more. Instead of visiting another third grade class, Travis actually goes to one of the reading specialists. It is great for him to get more basic reading help from a highly trained specialist. He seems to be progressing throughout the year so far. There are many different ways that Travis can be helped during the school year. If I was Travis’s teacher, one of the first things I would do is teach him more decoding strategies. His big weakness is decoding words as he reads, which then makes a negative impact on his fluency. If Travis had a larger variety of strategies to use, he would be able to practice better and then improve. All he does currently is re-read a word or sentence. That is a great strategy, but he does not use it correctly. He will get stuck on one difficult word, then go back to the beginning of the sentence and get stuck on the same word again. Teaching him how to use it properly, while also not depend on it so much, would really benefit his reading. Another great strategy for Travis to practice fluency with is to practice seeing and hearing what sounds are coming next in a sentence. His reading

is very choppy and unconnected, so being able to look ahead at the next word sound would help him read smoother. We still want word separation, but not a full pause between each word. Something that will also help correct his current habits is for Travis to get more practice recognizing chunks of words. When reading, he could see the word “there” and read it initially as “t”-“here” without pronouncing the “th” together. The more practice Travis can get with chunking, the better off he will be. Modeling these habits could work wonders for Travis. He is lacking that special attention and help from home, so either having the teacher read to him (or along with him) or maybe another proficient reader in the class could partner read with Travis sometimes. He would benefit from hearing and seeing together how people read words on a page. A great addition to that would be to do class choral readings. He would get great oral reading time in while not being singled out. Also, if he was stumbling over words, he would be helped by classmates around him without feeling embarrassed. That would be the perfect time to boost his reading confidence while at the same time having other students modeling good oral reading around him. My final few suggestions to improve Travis’s reading are basic but would be effective. He needs more practice recognizing high-frequency words. Having a classroom wordwall of high-frequency words, even in third grade, would profit Travis’s reading. The more a student physically sees the word, the more familiar it becomes. I also think that reading books at a more appropriate level for him will not only improve his reading, but it will

also boost his reading confidence. I often think that his self-selected books are too difficult, so he probably is not getting much out of them besides frustration. I have spoken with my cooperating teacher about my findings compared to hers. She plans to implement some of my suggestions into Travis’s daily English/Language Arts times. I look forward to watching Travis continue progressing throughout the rest of the semester.

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