Response to Chapt. 5 of Gunning’s, Assessing and Correcting Reading and Writing Difficulties

I had problems with comprehension tests for many years when I was growing up much like many other children had and still have.  Especially on state tests, the comprehension section in my eyes is awful and does all the wrong things.  They often give students a section to read and give questions to answer that were supposedly about the text.  In my experiences with these comprehension tests, the questions have more to do with minute details that many people wouldn’t remember rather than what the story means or is trying to get across.  In my eyes comprehension should be tested for the major issues in the story not what the main character’s third cousin’s father was wearing on Wednesday.  This may be an exaggeration, but I do remember ridiculous questions like this that had nothing to do with the actual text yet I still was supposed to remember it.  In chapter five it talks about retelling; I am a fan of retelling because it highlights major points of the story and allows educators to see what the students believe is important.  Unlike many non-referenced tests, guessing is reduced and actual comprehension is tested with retelling; with retelling there is no I don’t know so I’ll guess answer C going on.  The students tell you what they think is important covering important aspects like setting, main character(s), problem(s), goal, plot, and/or outcome(s).  This way also allows you to ask questions that can help direct the student.  An important factor to take into account with retelling is that students should retell the story as if you the teacher/audience have not read the book and know nothing of it.  Tell the student this because you don’t want them to leave out important parts of the story because they assume you already know.  In chapter five it says, “In assessing a retelling, ask questions such as these: Are major events or ideas highlighted?  Are appropriate inferences made about characters and events?  Is the retelling accurate?  Is information from the selection integrated with the student’s background of information?” (Gunning 129)  Retelling can be a very useful tool and way of assessing comprehension in the classroom.  Like anything it can be altered and abused; but if given right, I believe retelling is one of the best ways to test for comprehension.

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Annotated Bibliography

The first thing I want to make apparent for this post is an amazing site to gain awareness on autism: http://www.autismspeaks.org/

The short documentary “I Want To Say” is a look into the lives of several children who struggle with autism. They conduct interviews with the families and the children. However, the video mostly portrays how difficult it can be for people with autism to communicate. The difficulties do not just start with writing and reading, but being able to speak. An important aspect to this video is technology. Technology is starting to play a huge role in school and students who have autism are now being encouraged to use this to its full ability. Touch screens are big parts of this technology era. The students are using these touch screens to not only communicate, but to further their learning of words writing. They now have something that allows them to communicate. These touch screen tablets are a way that has helped many students have a voice and show their true personalities. It is important to realize that there is a wide range on this scale and not all kids who have autism are the same and do the same things. Some things may work for some students while not working for others. Being able to allow every student reach their full potential is extremely important and technology is allowing students with autism to finally show what their potential can truly be. Personally I enjoyed this short documentary a great deal. It showed some great insight and allows you to see the potential children with autism have. The use of technology is a great way to try and engage students with autism as well as letting them show their minds and personality.
Sorcher, P. (Director) (2013). I want to say [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iu3c8fqBQcA

“Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes you Knew”, by Ellen Notbohm, is a journal article that highlights exactly what the title says. This article talks about many aspects in the life of somebody who has autism. However, there are a few things I want to fixate on. One area Notbohm talks about is over stimulated places. Tasks that most people take for granted can cause a brain overload for somebody who has autism. Notbohm talks about a simple trip to the grocery store turns into something very difficult for people who have autism. They literally hear everything that is going on and all their sense are getting overloaded. This is important to take note of because how do you think students who have autism feel when there is noise when they are reading or writing. Another area Notbohm touches on receptive and expressive language and vocabulary. She says that when teachers shout across the room and give direction she does not hear one single thing they say. Instead go up to students with autism and tell them what you want them to do and then what to do next. Do not use puns, metaphors, or sarcasm to try and relay something because students who have autism quite often take the phrases seriously and don’t realize what is happening. Another aspect that Notbohm touches on is slim vocabulary. Do not get overly frustrated because students with autism often have slimmer vocabularies. They are trying just as hard as you are to succeed, but sometimes they just don’t know how to express what they mean in words. Notbohm also talks about an area that applies to every student. They will not learn in an environment at which they do not feel comfortable. No student wants to learn in place where they will be criticized and humiliated for doing something wrong. They have to feel like they are enough. This is a very good read for anybody. It points out some very interesting facts and concepts throughout the article.

Notbohm, E. (2005). Ten things every child with autism wishes you knew. Retrieved from http://icdd.idaho.gov/pdf/parent_league/TenThingsEveryChild.pdf

I have recently read a blog post from a mother, Hayley Harris, which talks about her son, Donovyn, who has autism. She talks about how at first nobody really knew how to diagnose him. Their family would have to go to all these appointments and doctor visits for treatments that they really didn’t know about. Because of his struggles in reading, writing, and math he was now performing at a first grade level while he was 14. This was very difficult on Donovyn’s life because he could not socialize with friends his age. Hayley Harris talks about how Donovyn asked for a surprise birthday part, but then said I don’t have any friends to invite. This broke my heart when I heard this. As educators we should never let students feel like they are useless. Every student has special gifts they bring to the table. Also help and encourage students to make friends. A child should never be alone, without any friends. I think this blog is an eye opener for sure. Children with autism can be very difficult, but they are amazing people who have tons to offer. For example, Donovyn participates in charities and walks for autism consistently. Caring is a great gift to give and receive.

Harris, H. (2012, November 14). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://www.autismspeaks.org/blog/2012/11/14/how-do-i-summarize-my-son-donovyn’s-journey-autism

“Planning instruction and self-regulation training: Effects on writers with autism spectrum disorders”, was a study done to see how well planning and self-regulation worked with students who are ASD. The task they had to perform using these techniques was writing a story. Three children were taught an approach using the self-regulated strategy development (SRSD) method. The SRSD is broken into three parts: “First, through direct instruction and guided and independent practice, students learn to carry out typical composing processes such as planning. Second, students develop the knowledge and self-regulatory procedures (e.g., goal setting, self-monitoring, self-instruction, and self-reinforcement) they need to utilize the writing strategies while composing. Finally, SRSD targets specific motivational aspects such as self-efficacy and effort” (Asaro-Saddler & Saddler, 2010). At the end of the study the students showed improvement in more than a few categories. The study concluded that this is beneficial to ASD students in fourth grade and second grade. Personally I think this is a good start, but I feel that more than this is needed especially as students with ASD in the elementary level. I feel there is no one way to teach students especially ASD students. You cannot categorize all ASD students the same because the truth is they are not. This may work for some students and not for others. We will not know if they keep on doing these studies only on two or three people.

Asaro-Saddler, K., & Saddler, B. (2010). Planning instruction and self-regulation training: Effects on writers with autism spectrum disorders.Exceptional Children, 77(1), 107-124.

This web blog was very interesting to me because it is about a lady, Erin Clemens, who has autism. She often struggled in school and struggled socially. But that is not why I enjoyed this blog post. I enjoyed this because one day she lost her purse. She could not get a new purse because all of her money was in the purse she lost. So she went online to see how to make a purse and ductape purses came up. It is from this idea that she started making autism awareness bracelets out of ductape. The best part about this story is that she gives all the money to help student who have autism. She provided an iPad along with some other things to a school with kids who have autism. This year she wants to do even more so she put out this post trying to get people’s awareness up not only her bracelets, but on autism. Erin Clemens is truly an amazing woman for doing this and I can’t wait to see how this year turns out.

Clemens, E. (2013, February 22). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://www.autismspeaks.org/blog/2013/02/22/heart-autism-spreading-autism-awareness-duct-tape

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Response to Chapt. 4 of Gunning’s, Assessing and Correcting Reading and Writing Difficulties

During chapter 4 Gunning mentions the use of miscue analysis. First it is called miscue analysis instead of error analysis because error has a negative connotation. Not all miscues during a miscue analysis are bad. For example if a student replaces a word with a synonym, then that is not particularly a bad thing. That could mean that they are just reading for meaning. Throughout the main section on miscue analysis it highlights a table that explains how to give a successful miscue analysis. First make a list of the words that the student had a miscue of and the actual word that the student said. This allows you to organize and compare the words more easily. Then there is a column for semantic similarities. This is where the word they said still makes sense. If it does give them a check mark for that column; if not give them a minus mark. The next column is graphic similarities. This is where at least half of the miscue word is similar to the actual word. If it is at least halfway similar, then that column gets a check mark. The next three columns are about breaking the word down into three parts: the beginning, middle, and the end. This where you can specifically mark where the student made their miscue. Was it at the beginning of the word, the middle of the word, or the ending of the word? Where ever the miscue happened that is where the check mark goes. After this there is only two more columns left. The next column is the self-corrections column. This is for if the student catches themselves making the miscue and corrects themselves at any point in the reading. If they self-correct themselves, then a check mark is placed in that column. The final column is non-words. If the word they say is not a word then a check mark is placed. After all of this you convert the check mark columns into percentages so you can see where the student has struggled. Semantic errors can mean the student is reading for meaning while a high percentage in the non-word column may indicate that they struggle reading for meaning and focus more on decoding. The columns that break the words into the three parts can be very useful as well. Often students with many check marks in the middle column have trouble with vowels and rely on the consonants in words. Whatever the case is miscue analysis can be very useful. It can take a little longer, but they can be very useful in detecting where students are struggling and where they may need help.

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Response to Chapt. 3 of Gunning’s, Assessing and Correcting Reading and Writing Difficulties

The title of chapter 3 is Overview of Assessment. Throughout this chapter it talks about different types of assessment. It talks about dynamic assessment, formative or summative assessment, norm-referenced, criterion-referenced, etc. But what caught my eye was mentioned early in the chapter. It was Vygotsky’s theory the zone of proximal development or ZPD. The ZPD is the area of knowledge that is outside the student’s knowledge. He believed that students should be taught knowledge that is just out of their reach, but not too far that the student becomes too frustrated and shuts down. If teachers are giving and assessing material that is too easy for students they are not really learning anything of major value. Assessing material in the ZPD is important because the content in this area generates curiosity and challenges students to grow and learn. Another important term that goes with ZPD is MKO, more knowledgeable other. This is important while assessing because students will need help when they are learning something in the ZPD. With the help of a MKO the student can grow and learn the material in the ZPD and then when assessed on the material they will be able to perform. The MKO can be anything that help the student learn the new concept; it can be a computer, peer, teacher, parent, etc. In retrospect ZPD doesn’t measure what the student already knows, but instead measures what the student can possibly learn. This is what dynamic assessment is and dynamic assessment uses ZPD to measure growth and what students have truly learned.

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Response to Chapt. 2 of Gunning’s, Assessing and Correcting Reading and Writing Difficulties

An important issue that plays a role in struggling readers is memory. This is a very important topic for me because throughout my schooling this problem had occurred consistently. I would often have to read sentences and pages four to five times just to remember what I had read. I would often just read the words without registering them as a sentence(s). This happens to many students who have trouble reading and it revolves around the issue of memory. In this matter it is important to understand, what is the working memory? The working memory “temporarily holds all the information of which we are conscious, including what has just been perceived and what is being thought” (Gunning, 28). In my eyes this pretty much means being able to think about what you just read. Many students are able to do this faster than others and in a classroom there will be students who can do this simultaneously as they are reading. However, be on the look for students who struggle in this area. For them reading is like a chore they don’t want to do. I know from my personal experiences. One way that helps readers that struggle in this area is to have them stop periodically and literally think about what they have just read. If they can’t remember then the student may have to stop more often. However, the more they practice and develop this skill the longer they may be able to read without stopping. I started out stopping after every two sentences, then a few sentences, eventually I was up to a half of page, then to a full page, etc. An important thing to remember is to not force them to read faster than they can handle. Instead help and guide them so they can become not only more efficient readers, but enjoy reading as well.

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Response to Chapt. 1 of Gunning’s, Assessing and Correcting Reading and Writing Difficulties

For a period of time learning disabilities were recognized by using a discrepancy definition.  This discrepancy definition distinguished students with learning disabilities to have a significant difference between their measured ability and their achievement.  This posed a problem because students with learning disabilities were not able to be identified until later in their schooling rather than earlier.  This also caused some concern because it is difficult to measure the ability of students at early ages.  A new and improved approach has come into the picture and it is referred to as RTI.  RTI (response to intervention) is the new approach that school districts are now using to identify LD students.  The RTI approach is a three part process.  The first part is a student will be provided with high-quality instruction in a general education classroom with the help of the general education teacher.  This will work for a majority of students.  However, there will still be some students that fall behind and that are when the second part of RTI is implemented.  The second part is when the student who has fallen behind is given additional instruction.  This usually includes small group work that will further help the struggling student.  Finally, the third part is if the student still is falling behind a more intensive approach is implemented.  One on one work with extra time with the teacher is applied to help the student make adequate progress.  If the student has still not made sufficient progress the placement in special education programs is considered to help the student succeed.  Advantages to RTI are that teachers are not waiting for students to fail to find out if the may be LD.  RTI allows the teacher to identify struggles early and come up with the best approach to help the struggling student.

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