Introduction of Case Study
My case study is centered on the reading ability of a nine year old boy who is in fourth grade. Due to confidentiality reasons we are going to call this young man Ben. Ben attends Estabrook Elementary School which is located in the Ypsilanti, MI and is part of the Ypsilanti Public School District. The YPSD consists of ten school buildings, which educates over three thousand six hundred students in Washtenaw County. Estabrook Elementary is just one of ten school buildings which consists of students between second and sixth grade. Also, Estabrook is a recipient of the Michigan Blue Ribbon Exemplary School Award, which is awarded to a school when they accomplish high levels of performance or make major progress in closing the achievement gap in schools with the population containing at least forty percent disadvantaged. Estabrook uses two common strategies to help develop reading and writing: The Daily 5 and C.A.F.E.
Classroom and School Environment
The classroom I observed has thirty-one students and is a diverse classroom. The classroom demographics are five Caucasian, four Latino, twenty African American, two Others, and eighteen girls with thirteen boys. As a result of the high amount of students, the classroom does not have individual desks. Instead they have eleven tables that the students sit around. The classroom became very crowded because of this.
Estabrook uses a variety of strategies to help develop the students reading and writing while at school. As stated earlier the two strategies used most commonly are The Daily 5 and C.A.F.E. The Daily 5 is a framework that helps develop reading, writing, and working independently. It includes reading to self, working on writing, reading to someone, listening to reading, and word work. C.A.F.E. is an acronym which stands for comprehension, accuracy, fluency, and expanding vocabulary. The classroom I observed has these strategies plastered all over the walls along with word banks for multiple subjects.
The classroom teacher I observed used some really nice methods to help develop reading. The first thing I was fond of was her Cinderella world map. She would read the Cinderella story from different parts of the world and from different cultures. For example I have heard the American version we are used to along with the version from Africa, Persia, China, Middle East, and many more. She would then ask the students how they are different and how they are similar to the American version. She would also ask them if they were similar or different to the other Cinderella stories and what made them similar. Then they have a world map and they put a sticker on the place from where the Cinderella story was from.
Another method I was fond of was literature circles. She mixed and matched different level readers together and they would read short chapter books together. This allowed struggling readers to hear fluent reading and get help from other students if they stumbled on a word. They would read a couple chapters together and then finish reading a couple chapters silently. This covered three aspects of the Daily 5 activities. Then when finished they would have to do a story map on what they read so far. The map included setting, characters, plot, new words, and summary. This covers the other two aspects of the Daily 5. Also, by the time they have finished literature circles, all the parts of the C.A.F.E. method have been covered.
The last method I liked was silent reading after literature circles. When they finished all the work, they got to read their own books that they picked out from the library. This allows the students to read books they truly enjoy and explore new books that may catch their attention.
Ben’s Interview Information
It took a little bit for Ben to be comfortable with me because I was new to him and I worked with a group of students and not just him. Therefore, instead of bombarding him with a ton of questions, I kept a log and would ask vague questions so that when he became comfortable with me I had a base to work off of. After a couple of days of getting to know each other we did interviews of each other. This was the first piece of assessment I was able to get.
I tried to keep the interview more like a conversation, building off of the broad answers I already knew about and the questions he was asking me. After about twenty-five minutes of talking to each other I was able to gather quite a bit of information. Ben lives at home with his mother, sister, and brother. He got a little defensive when he mentioned that his father was not around, so I did not push him to tell about the father. Instead I asked about his siblings. His brother is nineteen and his sister is sixteen; this made him the baby of the family. The books he typically reads are about hundred pages long and it takes him a little less than a week to finish the book. He then informed me that he does not enjoy reading and does not have a favorite book. When I asked him why he does not enjoy reading he replied that the books they make him read are boring; he has a hard time paying attention to the story because he does not like it. This led me to ask him what he did like.
He loves to watch wrestling, specifically WWE Raw and Smackdown. His favorite wrestler is the Undertaker and Rey Mysterio. He is currently reading two books about each of these wrestlers. I was able to carry on the conversation about this topic because when I was kid I used to watch the same thing. He asked me a ton of questions about this topic and I found out that books about wrestling were his favorite types of books. This eventually led to more of his hobbies. Ben and I got hooked on talking about sports because we are both huge fans and play a lot of sports. His favorite sport to play is basketball, but he also plays football and baseball. Earlier he had told me that he did not enjoy reading and I was seeing why he said that. So after I found out some of his hobbies, I asked him if he enjoys reading books about sports and competition. He informed me that he did, but most of the books that they read in class have nothing to do with those topics. All this information made me think of a specific question that I that I felt I knew the answer to. “Do you like reading aloud or silently?”
I figured he would say silently and sure enough he said he preferred to read silently. I asked him why he liked to read silently and he informed me that he just enjoyed it more. I believe it is because every time he reads aloud, it is a book he does not enjoy. He later told me that he enjoys reading aloud with me and I believe this was because he reads his personal books with me. It was amazing how much background information I was able to get just from an informal, conversational interview.
Ben’s Word Lists
The second assessment piece I was able to do with Ben was word lists. I started Ben out on the third grade words which were the words from the grade below him. I told him that all he had to do was read the words as best as he could and not to mind me. The marks I made on my paper are not bad marks and this was not a grade. As soon as he saw the first word list I wanted him to read he said that they he knew them and they were going to be easy. He read through them very quickly, confidently, and with ease. The only two he got wrong were because he said the root word and left off the suffixes. At the time I figured he was just reading too fast and just kind of skipped the suffix. He scored a ninety percent, in the independent level so I moved him up to the fourth grade word list.
During the fourth grade word list he struggled a little more. He scored an eighty percent, a good instructional level score, but struggled to identify some of the words automatically. He scored a sixty percent on the automatically identified and did a lot more self-correcting at this level. He still read through the wordlist semi quickly but struggled with the longer, more syllable words. I also noticed he struggled a little with how to pronounce the i and e sounds in the words he missed. I decided to give him the fifth grade word list even though I was convinced that he that the fourth grade level was right for him. I thought he might struggle, but that was okay because if he did, then I could see how he tried to figure the word out.
As I suspected Ben did struggle with the fifth grade words. He scored a sixty percent, which is the frustration level. Many of the words he missed he tried to decode, but just could not figure the right pronunciations. There was one word he missed, divorced, that I believe he just read through it to quickly; I say this because he instantly said discovered and they are spelled similar. Throughout the entirety of the word lists, even the one where he struggled, he maintained a positive attitude and energetic stature. My final conclusion is that he read at a fourth grade level, but struggled with decoding longer words and special pronunciation for letters i and e, which will improve once starts noticing the special sounds in more vocabulary. He told me that next time we read together that he does not want to read something boring; so, I found a WWE Wrestling Superstar book that Ben and I read the next time. This was the book I did my miscue analysis with.
Ben’s Miscue analysis
As Ben and I met again to read together I had him read aloud to me from a WWE Wrestling Superstar book. I did this for a few reasons: I wanted to get a better understanding of his miscues, I wanted him to read something he enjoyed, and I wanted to hear him read something he enjoyed. After I looked at the miscue analysis I noticed three major miscues that he hinted at before.
The first miscue that I noticed was new to me because I did not notice it before with him. He often told me that he did not like certain books because he did not understand what was going on. I figured it was because he was bored with the book so he did not pay attention, which I still think plays a big part in it. However, during the miscue analysis I noticed he would randomly skip lines when reading so that may also play a part in why he has a hard time understanding the books.
Another miscue I noticed, that further proved what I already thought from the word lists, was that Ben struggled with vowel sounds. Many of his miscues were because he mispronounced the middle vowel sound.
The third and final miscue I noticed was that Ben struggles with suffixes. I thought with the word lists he was just reading too fast, which still might be the case, but he does have a lot of miscues because he messes up or does not say the suffixes. It is something that I wish I could have looked more into, in order to figure out if it is just reading to fast or if he struggles with suffixes.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Throughout my observations and working with Ben I have made some conclusions. Ben reads fairly fluent and accurately. However, he does struggle at time with comprehension and vocabulary. I think this is due to a number of reasons. First he struggles with vowel sounds and decoding longer multi-syllable words. Another reason is that he is often bored with the text he reads. Also, he sometimes skips lines and loses his place which can mess up the meaning of certain things. Finally he may struggle with suffixes. This could be due to reading to fast or not knowing them or not recognizing them on words.
My recommendation is to have him slow down when reading. Literally think about the reading as you read. Also, give Ben more books that he will enjoy reading. Another recommendation is to extend his vocabulary, especially with words that have special sounds. For example: -ious, -cial, -tion, -sion, etc. The last recommendation I have is to further monitor how he reads words that have suffixes. Like I said before I could be just reading to fast or it could be struggle.