Response to Chapt. 13 of Gunning’s, Assessing and Correcting Reading and Writing Difficulties

The part I am would like to talk about from chapter 13 is the writing process. This is one of the first sections of the chapter and that is because it is a foundation to start with. At one point Gunning states that writing is more complex and abstract then speaking the language. Children grow up having conversations and using verbal clues to master language. However, children do not spend much time writing, which is evident by the evidence by the statistics Gunning gives on page 456. At grades 4, 8, and 12, between 12 and 18% of the students are below basic level of writing. The writing process consists of five stages: prewriting, composing, revising, editing, and publishing.

• Prewriting is all the base work. It is all the planning and preparing one does before they start to actually write. This planning could include picking what they want to write about; this could be a hypothesis, topic, memory, etc. This is also when brainstorming takes place. Students go more in depth to what they want to write about and come up with a plan. You can rehearse what you want to write about and collaborate with peers to get their opinion. At this stage it is also to think of the audience the writing sample is for.

• Composing is the stage where writing begins. Start putting words and thoughts on paper. Work through and sort out what was brainstormed. The focus at this stage is to organize thoughts and write them down. It is not about creating the finished product. Don’t try to have a final writing sample while composing. In this stage errors are expected because this is your first attempt. This is also a stage were writing conferences can take place about the writing samples.

• The next stage is revising. This is when you start to take a closer look at your writing sample. You start to review you writing; you can look at if it makes sense, grammatical errors, what’s the point, and the content. Students look over their rough drafts and start making comments and correcting errors. Over time this will become automatic for students; does this make sense? Should I change the wording? To help students with this process, demonstrate and model what to do and how to make corrections.

• Editing is the fourth stage in the writing process. This can coincide with the revising stage. Editing is pretty much taking your revisions and putting them into your paper. The corrections to the paper are actually made during this stage. This stage fine tunes the writing sample and allows you more time to catch little errors. A mnemonic strategy can be used during this stage, S.C.O.P.E. This stands for spelling, capitalization, order of words, punctuation, and expressing complete thoughts.

• Finally the last stage is publishing. The writing sample is all done and has been looked over. It is now ready to share with the audience and make public. This stage shows the students purpose for writing the sample and allows the audience to see what the student was trying to say.

These stages quite often coincide and overlap. Especially when we get more comfortable with the writing process, we find ourselves constantly composing, revising, and editing. It is one of those things were the more you practice the better you get at it.

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Response to Chapt. 11 of Gunning’s, Assessing and Correcting Reading and Writing Difficulties

Chapter 11 talks about building comprehension pretty extensively.  The section I want to talk about focused on DRA (Directive Reading Activity).  The DRA is an activity that is used to help improve comprehension skills and can be used also as an assessment piece.  This is usually used as a part of guided practice.  The DRA lesson consists of five steps that incorporate preparation, silent reading, discussion, rereading, and follow-up.

Preparation

In this stage you prepare the student with whatever necessities they need for the reading.  The reading can be anything from a news article to a chapter of a book to a short story.  You should introduce the reading during this preparation stage and activate prior knowledge about the topic of the reading.  You should also address new vocabulary and concepts during this stage to help the student be successful.  This stage should generate interest in the text and should build on background knowledge.  Students might need help generating their background knowledge, or schema, because students may not automatically activate it.

Silent Reading

This stage is where the student engages in the reading silently.  Gunning talks about how the reading should be silent to maximize comprehension.  He talks about how reading orally can hinder the comprehension.  However, I don’t know if I agree with this aspect because some students feel more comfortable reading aloud as they read.  I was one of those kids that reading silently actual hurt my comprehension and I got more from the text when reading aloud to myself.  When I read aloud it forced me pay more attention to the text; when I read silently my mind wondered consistently and I would not remember anything.  All I am trying to say is that you should let the student read the text however they feel comfortable.

Discussion and Rereading

I labeled discussion and rereading together because often these two steps coincide with each other.  The discussion usually starts with the student answering the main question.  To help the student answer the main question, you can break up the question into different parts that may be easier for the student to work with.  During the discussion, misconceptions can be discussed along with widening concepts or discussing confusing parts form the story.  Through the discussion, organization of the text’s information can be addressed.  You can look back into the text in order to obtain information that was missed or confusing.  This is why discussion and rereading sometimes go hand in hand.  Going back through the text and rereading can further the discussion while helping the student to understand what they might have missed.

Follow-up

The follow-up is an optional step and can be used in many ways.  This step is pretty much to see if they remember the concepts or if they might have further investigated the concepts.

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Response to Chapt. 10 of Gunning’s, Assessing and Correcting Reading and Writing Difficulties

In chapter 10 a section talks about developing vocabulary through reading aloud. As I have said before it is important for struggling readers to hear fluent reading and this sections just further supports this. This section states that students learn words just from listening to someone read aloud with no instruction (Senechal & Cornell, 1993). Also when discussions and teacher explanations took place 40% of the words were learned (Elley, 1989). Reading aloud is very useful to low-achieving readers because generally they do not read as much as higher-achieving readers; which are why their vocabulary is diminished. Just like anything else practicing will make you better and the more you read the more vocabulary you will come across. Therefore, if low-achieving students are reluctant to read, then hearing and discussing can be a way for them to be exposed to new vocabulary. To get the most out of reading aloud a technique that is widely used is known as Text Talk (Beck & McKeown 2001). Text talk consists of six steps:

1. Provide the word in the context after reading

2. Produce an understandable definition of the word for the students to relate to. Display the word and definition for the students to help maximize memory retention.

3. Use the word in other contexts that prove the basic meaning. This helps generalize the word so it is easier to remember.

4. Help the students of your class relate the word to their lives and real life usage.

5. Review the word with the students in order to help retention.

6. Finally encourage the students to use the word in everyday use while talking and while writing. Also have them take note to when they hear the word in conversations.

(Gunning, 345)

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Response to Chapt. 9 of Gunning’s, Assessing and Correcting Reading and Writing Difficulties

Context clues or contextual analysis are a huge part in reading any kind of text. Gunning mentions that struggling or lower achieving readers struggle with contextual analysis more than others. According to him struggling readers can usually use context analysis successfully only 10 percent of the time (Gunning 316). This was disappointing for me to hear because using context clues can be very helpful when reading. I always used and still use context to help understand words I am not familiar with. There are many advantages to using context clues to help figure out an unknown word. First it makes you think about the text you are reading. It also helps because if you can figure out what the unknown word is while reading, then you do not have to stop reading in the middle of the text and go look up the word. If you can figure it out just by using the context you do not have to put the book and all your attention is still on the book. This factor helped me out a lot when I was a struggling reader because if put down the book to do something else I usually did not pick the book back up until I had to. Context clues do not just pertain to text either. Often younger students are going to be reading books that have pictures. Students can also use the pictures to help understand the word and the sentence. An example of this just happened in my field work the other day. A student I was reading with came across a word she did not know, barley. As soon as she finished the sentence she looked at me and asked what the word meant. I said, “Well let’s try and figure it out.” I asked her about what she had read before the sentence and what was happening when the word came up. She told me that kids were getting ready to feed the birds and then they grabbed the barley and threw it to the birds. She then said that barley must be food for the birds. Then she looked at the picture on the next page and it showed a bag labeled barley and had the kids throwing it out to the birds. She then said they look like seeds that the kids are feeding to the birds. From then on she understood what barley was and learned a new word. Using context clues is an intricate process for the mind. First you have to realize that you do not know the word. Then you must decide that you are going to use context to help figure out the word. Then you actually use context to try and come up with meanings to the unknown word. Then you use that to decide on a general meaning of the unknown word that makes sense with the text. Then you test the meaning of the word to verify that you came to the right conclusion. Using context clues is one of the useful techniques in my eyes and students should be pushed to use this technique more and more as they continue to read more difficult text.

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Response to Chapt. 8 of Gunning’s, Assessing and Correcting Reading and Writing Difficulties

As I read chapter eight one section kept sticking out in my mind. The section was, “Using a multisensory approach to learn letter names and letter sounds.” This talks about when students have a hard time and cannot learn the letter names and letter sounds in a more traditional approach. The multisensory approach is then advised to be used because students are able to use their kinesthetic and tactile senses to strengthen auditory and visual senses. Instead of just hearing and seeing the sounds, students are able to say and physically show the letter. The multisensory approach works on many things such as recognition, phonics, and motor movement. In my eyes this way should be the “normal” to teach letter names and letter sounds.
This section also highlights a lesson, from the Singerland approach (1971,) which I found to be very useful when explaining how to implement this technique:
• It first starts out with the teacher saying the letter, n, and then allowing the class to say it. Make sure to enunciate when speaking and allow the students to see your lip movements so they can repeat. Have them repeat the letter, n, back to you as a class and then call on individuals to say the letter.
• Forming the letter is the next step that is taken. The teacher demonstrates the motion of the letter as they are writing it. So for, n, as you are writing you would say: start at the top and move down and up and around and down. After a couple demonstrations let the students write the word and say the motions with you. Then let them do it on their own. Saying and doing the motions will help the students remember the formation of the letter.
• After forming the letter comes learning the letter’s name. Once the students have learned the formation of the letter, then replace the formation steps with the name of the letter, n, as they are writing. Students keep writing the letter and saying it simultaneously until they feel comfortable to write it by itself without saying it. Then without looking at the previously written letters, write the letter, n, from memory.
• Finally is learning the letter sound. This lesson uses shared-reading to show the letter in words. Therefore, find a book that has many words that begin with, n, and read it to the students. Then go back through the book and see if the students can pick out the words that start with the letter n. Identify the word, read and, write down the words for the students to see. Make not of the connection that all the words that start with n sound the same at the beginning. Then enunciate the word clearly and then highlight the / n /sound of the word.

This is a great way for not only struggling readers to learn the letter names and letter sounds, but in my eyes is a great way for every student to learn the letter names and letter sounds.

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Response to Chapt. 7 of Gunning’s, Assessing and Correcting Reading and Writing Difficulties

There are many benefits to reading aloud. Reading aloud is essential for lower-achieving readers because it builds vocabulary, syntax, and comprehension. Reading aloud also helps students make sense of the story. If the student is able to hear the story read fluently, then they will better understand the message and content of the story. Also use of a read aloud can enrich student’s language not only when reading, but when discussing the stories. Students pick up the language you use and the language they hear so if they are immersed in rich language, then they will notice it and start developing their own language. Stories are not only a great way to develop language, but to advance vocabulary. You can advance their vocabulary by using words from the text that may be difficult for the students.
When reading aloud to students it is important to pick stories that you and the students like. If the students do not like the story you selected, then they will not listen to the story. If you do not like the story chosen, you will not be conveying enthusiasm as you read and the story will suffer. It is also smart to include some informational type stories do that students can build a background in this area. Another important factor when picking stories is comprehension. Do not pick a book that the students cannot understand. It is important to push the students to learn more, but if the students do not understand the majority of the story then comprehension can be thrown out the window. If students can understand the text and can answer most of your questions about the text, then they are probably at the right level. Another aspect in picking a story is length. Do not pick a book that is too long because students may get bored and let their minds wonder and miss part of the book.
It is also important to introduce the book. Students benefit from this because they are on the same page as you are now. Also, try to read through the story with little interruptions. Interruptions break up the story and can cause some confusion. At the end of the story it should be discussed between you and your students. This allows them to ask questions and allows you to shape the discussion to benefit everybody. When discussing have them talk about or analyze characters, settings, plot, etc. Help them draw conclusions and make connections to the real world. At the end of the day a read aloud can be immensely beneficial to developing all students.

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Response to Chapt. 6 of Gunning’s, Assessing and Correcting Reading and Writing Difficulties

I found chapter six interesting especially when it talks about case history. A case history is used to get a better understanding of a student’s background. A case history is attained from the student’s parents or care givers. Case studies can be very useful when trying to understand and interpret data. The case history confronts many factors that can play a role in student’s struggles. These factors can affect many parts of the student’s live including physical, emotional, social, and cognitive development. There are six areas that Gunning talks about when obtaining a case history. Try to have both parents present for the case history and do not pass judgment on answers and have a professional attitude throughout the history. The areas are broken down a little differently at spots but the general areas can as listed: Family factors, pregnancy, early years and overall health, developmental milestones, early language and literacy development, school history, home factors, and interests/personal adjustment.

The first area has to do with family and the role the student in the family. Ask the parents about the family, make up of their home, and if others in the family may have struggled in school. The second area that is discusses is pregnancy. Ask about the pregnancy of the child having to do with illness or medication taken during the pregnancy or if the baby was full term. The third area Gunning discusses is early years and overall health. These questions range from infancy to childhood illnesses to injuries to sleeping patterns. The fourth area that Gunning mentions is developmental milestones. Was the student’s development aligned with the major milestones? The fifth are Gunning discusses is early language and literacy development. This includes languages spoken at home, use of pencils, crayons, and storybooks, reading, writing, and watching TV. The sixth area is school history. Ask the parents about past struggles the student may have had previously in reading and writing. Other things that can be asked are when the struggles first started and what was done to help the student? Some other questions can revolve around subject interests and attendance. The seventh area has to do with home factors. Did the student get help from others in the family? Where and when does the student do their homework? Did you read to the student when they were younger and do you like reading? The last area is interests/personal adjustment. How does the student get along with other children his age? What sort of interests does the student have? Do they participate in extracurricular activities? Are there any other aspects of the student’s life you want to inform me of?

The areas and questions do not have to give in this order or any particular order, but try to touch on these areas to gain information about the student. If something comes up or other areas are being answered just go with it and adapt the interview so it fells fluent. Follow the parent’s train of thought in order to get more information. Try to focus the questioning on what is most relevant to the student. For example if illness is a major factor then spend a little more time in health and medical background. The use of case histories can tell you a lot about students and their struggles.

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