Transition/Almost Fluent Reader Case Study by jsD36d4

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									Transition/Almost Fluent Reader Case Study

Introduction

       This study is based upon my experiences as a tutor over the past month. Tutoring

in the context of a “teacher” as opposed to a mother is new to me. I worked as a certified

public accountant for ten years then worked as a stay-at-home mom with three children

for the past ten years. I am currently working toward a degree in middle school

education. Of course a mother is a teacher, but until now I had no direction as to the

methods for teaching reading. Through my coursework I have learned many underlying

principles in the teaching of reading. I tried to implement this new knowledge in my

tutoring sessions. I decided to tutor my youngest child who has asked to be called Lulu.

She is 9 years old and will be entering fourth grade this fall. She previously attended

Bader Elementary School but due to redistricting, she will be attending Mellwood

Elementary School. She has two older siblings, a brother age 16 and a sister age 17. Lulu

is very confident and loves sports. She thinks that she is the best player on her basketball

and softball teams. When playing sports, Lulu is extremely competitive. She is well

behaved and loves to help others. Her favorite thing in the world is horses.

Description of student’s literacy skills

       Lulu is very confident which is good but I feel like sometimes she is too

confident. She is quick with an answer before taking her time to think thru the question

and answer. According to her teacher’s evaluations (copies are included in my reflection

journal), Lulu is “fairly fluent but she sometimes has trouble with comprehension.” I

noted from the beginning that Lulu made up long words for words she did not

immediately recognize. She once did this for the word “climate.” This resulted in the
sentence making no sense. She did not go back to the sentence to try to make sense of it. I

sometimes interjected a question to check for comprehension. As noted in the transcript, I

asked her, “Who’s the nice guy?” She quickly answered incorrectly. She also did not

know who had made the bet in the story. Although she did not know the details of the

story; I think she gets the overall storyline. When I discussed how old she thought the

boys in the story were, I noted that she picked up on some of the clues in the text to infer

that the age was about 10. Lulu can read a level 4.5 book with greater than 95% accuracy.

I assessed her current level to be between 4.0 and 4.5. I concluded that she is in the

transition (or almost fluent) stage of literacy development. I base this conclusion on

several factors: she enjoys reading silently, she reads chapter books and informational

texts, she decodes well, she is fairly fluent, she reads books below her level with

smoothness and expression, and she includes almost all the details when she summarizes.

I observed that Lulu reads poems more fluently than narrative text. She reads picture

books with more expression than chapter books. She is becoming more fluent but needs

to keep building fluency.

Description of what I did during tutoring sessions

       I will detail sessions one, four, and six to show how my tutoring sessions

progressed.Session One: Because I know Lulu needs help with comprehension, this was

my main focus during our first sessions. I was eager to try teaching some of the

comprehension strategies discussed in class. I also wanted her to develop a love for

reading. I did not pre-read the books I brought to the first session. If I had, I would have

noticed that Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf was written for very young children. Lulu felt this

was a “baby book.” Her feelings were hurt because she thought I believed this to be her
level. I explained to her that I knew the book was below her level. I was hoping the two

easy books I brought would build her confidence. For the following lessons, the easy

books I brought had a deeper meaning. I looked for easy books that were not

preschoolish. During this first session, Lulu made predictions and summarized the

chapters of a book she had previously read, Brown Sunshine of Sawdust Valley. This is a

book Lulu picked out about a horse. We luckily came to a teachable moment for

monitoring while reading Olivia. We looked at the context of the word “bask” then

looked it up in the dictionary. I was not happy with this first session because I did not

think that I had instilled a love for reading in Lulu. Session Four: While assessing

myself, I realized that I had not been including a writing activity during our tutoring

sessions. I am now aware that I should help Lulu see a connection between reading and

writing. For this session, I planned a writing activity. We began the session by making

predictions of what might happen in the book, Alexander, Who Use to Be Rich Last

Sunday. Lulu had fun making and reviewing her predictions. We then read The Brand

New Kid. I chose this book because I thought Lulu would enjoy it. Next I did the shared

reading routine using the poem, Picture Puzzle Piece. I modeled visualization then I

directed Lulu to practice visualization with this poem. I chose a poem because I hoped

reading it several times would help Lulu build fluency. I felt like she read this poem very

smoothly. For a writing routine, Lulu wrote a stanza of her own based on a puzzle piece

from her imagination. Her rhyme was: “It might be a seashell that had a tail shaped like a

bell.” I was happier with this session than my prior ones because Lulu was allowed to use

some creativity.Session Six: Prior to this session, Lulu casually began reading The

Grouchy Ladybug and stumbled on the word, “aphids.” She included the “p” and “h”
sounds. I decided that for this session we would read The Grouchy Ladybug and I

planned to present the word wall routine for words with “ph.” I read ahead in the book,

Brown Sunshine of Sawdust Valley and found two words to note during our reading

(“sapphires” and “atmosphere”). I chose to continue reading Brown Sunshine because the

title and picture for the next chapter included a good opportunity for a short lesson on

generating and answering questions. Before reading The Grouchy Ladybug, I discussed

the word “aphid” with her. As anticipated, she mispronounced it. I told her its meaning.

Then I asked her to tell me everything she knew about ladybugs. I asked her if she knew

why farmers like ladybugs in their gardens. She said because they loosen the soil. Lulu

did good reading with expression. We then discussed the real reason why farmers like

ladybugs. Next I presented a short routine for words with “ph.” Lulu and I came up with

words and she wrote them on the board. She is aware the “ph” sometimes sounds like “f.”

Before reading Brown Sunshine, Lulu generated a question and predicted an answer. As

she was reading, there was a clue as to what the answer was and she changed her

prediction. I was able to assess that Lulu was thinking about what she was reading when

she correctly changed her prediction. To help Lulu understand synthesizing and to

include a writing activity, I had her write an entry in a diary which began, “Molly, I know

how you feel because…” Before this activity I reread page one of Brown Sunshine. The

page was a diary entry made by the main character, Molly. After Lulu wrote, she read her

diary entry to me. I then explained to her that she had related her prior knowledge and

feelings to Molly’s feelings. I reminded her that this helped her to better understand what

she read. Then I gave her a short explanation of synthesizing. This session was much

better planned out than my first sessions. As I learned routines and strategies during class,
I was able to make the lessons more productive. However, after listening to the tapes, I

realize I need to be much more efficient and to the point.

What changes did I see taking place?

       Building fluency and comprehension is a slow process. Because we only had

seven sessions, I was unable to notice much change. Although, I did notice that Lulu is

more aware of the comprehension strategies, especially monitoring. During session five, I

asked Lulu what she could do when she comes to a word she does not know. She said,

“You’ve already asked me that question before. I just read it over. Sound it out. You can

read it over. You can ask your teacher.” I also noticed that she no longer makes up a word

she is unsure of. She slows down and tries to decode the word. During our last session

when I questioned her about the text she many times did not know the correct answer.

She did not know who the character was that took the bet. She did not know who the nice

guy was. She did not know why Billy put the dogs in the igloo. I believe her

comprehension and love for reading will increase as her fluency increases.

How will I teach reading when I become a teacher?

       This class has been a humbling experience. I made many mistakes. After listening

to my audiotapes, I questioned if I could be an effective teacher. Teaching and modeling

is harder than it looks. The tapes revealed to me that my tutoring sessions were too

teacher-directed. I talked excessively and took too long to make the point. I want my

future classroom to have a good balance between teacher- and student-directed activities.

“A balanced literacy program combines teacher-directed instruction and student-centered

activities…in student-centered instruction, students perform a given task, from which

they are expected to learn certain things. For example, in reading, I would have students
read a short story that included two or three words they did not know, expecting that they

would learn the meanings of the words by using the context. If I had used teacher-

directed instruction, I would have taught the word meanings prior to reading” (p.24). This

quote made me aware of another mistake I made during my tutoring session. Instead of

teaching the meaning of “aphids” before reading the text, I should have allowed Lulu to

determine the meaning on her own by using the context. In order to meet the needs for all

learners, I will need to provide instruction for small groups. I will be teaching students

below, at, and above their age level. “Regardless of the types of diversities we have in

our classrooms, we must always adjust our instruction to meet the needs of our students”

(p. 13). To do this I will provide centers that could include independent reading and

writing, small group instruction, and cooperative reading and learning groups. During

small group instruction, I will assess what steps may have been missed for individual

students in order to determine the type of instruction needed. My tutoring sessions have

taught me the importance of one-on-one time when assessing student’s strengths and

weaknesses. Students are more motivated to learn when they know the relevance of what

they learn. “Students must have a purpose for reading and writing; in part, this purpose is

created by activation and developing prior knowledge” (p. 73). In order to facilitate

learning to read, I will try to make my students aware of the purpose for reading and

writing. To do this I will access students’ prior knowledge. When possible, I will use

authentic literature and relate how this new developed knowledge can be used in real life.

I will also try to move students to independence in accessing their own prior knowledge.

In order to read, students must be able to comprehend. As a middle school teacher, it

might be easy to assume that students have already been taught reading comprehension
strategies. However, at the middle school level text becomes more complex. “Since

reading in each content area presents unique challenges for readers, one must teach each

of the strategies anew with each subject area. It is impossible to ‘master’ the ability to

construct meaning. Even though strategy lessons were taught in earlier grades, they must

be retaught as reading material becomes more complex” (p. 299). This quote made me

aware that comprehension strategies must continue to be taught to older students. I will

therefore continuously teach and model the strategies and integrate various strategies to

help teach reading. Finally, I will try to properly assess and evaluate my students. This is

an area for which I have much to learn. Assessing one student during my tutoring

sessions was not an easy task. As a classroom teacher, I will have to assess 20-30

students in one classroom! “Assessment and evaluation must go together in the balanced

literacy classroom: one has no value without the other. A beginning step in planning for

assessment in your classroom is to think about why you are assessing students” (p. 461). I

believe this is essential knowledge. I will need to reflect as to why I am assessing

students to determine the most reliable assessment.

								
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