Helping students get back on track with RTI

I read the article "Response To Intervention (RTI):  What Teachers of Reading Need to Know" by Eric M. Mesmer and Heidi Anne E. Mesmer. The article discusses the importance of having a good RTI program in the schools. With a good RTI program, and the correct identification of a student as having a learning disability, the student can get the help they need to advance developmentally and academically. According to the article, an RTI is a process of measuring if a learner's academic performance improves when they are provided with well defined research based interventions. However, RTI's are different for each student. Instead of standardizing the interventions to see if students have learning disabilities, RTI's are student measured responses to interventions. In order to get accurate results of the interventions, the RTI is broken down into 5 complex steps.

                In the first step, all students are assessed on basic literacy skills, and their results are compared to NCLB benchmark results. In the second step, the students who did not meet the benchmark requirements receive extra help through the pre determined research based interventions. In the third step, many assessments monitoring the students' progress are taken.  This is done to make sure that all interventions are effective for each individual students, and to make sure that all students are making adequate academic development. In the fourth step, students who continue to struggle with literacy skills receive interventions that are more individualized. With the new individualized interventions, progress continues to be monitored. In the fifth and final step, students who still continue to struggle with literacy skills are evaluated for special education eligibility.

                With the new research based intervention programs, fewer students are falsely identified as special education. Also, the new intervention programs provide better instruction for students who struggle with literacy skills. RTI's help struggling students get back on track developmentally and academically, and it does so in a very quick and precise manner. An RTI really is a fast track to helping struggling students get caught up with the rest of the class without prematurely labeling them as special education or learning disability. What I like most about the RTI is the belief that with the proper aid and intervention, all students can, and will, succeed in an academic environment.

New Literacies

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 In the past there has been a sole focus on traditional methods of print in the cars room, however with the technology so rapidly evolving new conceptions of reading and wringing have emerge. Because the internet was so rapidly adopted over so many places, teachers must confront this new type of literary. While most schools today have internet access the average student in the U.S. spend about twelve minutes a week at the computer. This is hardly enough time for students to learn the new literacies that the internet brings.

            While there are problems and challenges with trying to bring new literacies into the classroom, the teacher can over come these challenges if they realize the importance of these new literacies and embrace the changes that come with it. This article, "Literacy Instruction with Digital and Media Technologies" by Diane Barone, and Todd E. Wright, focuses one teacher that has successfully intergraded technology into his classroom. Todd Wright is a teacher at Fernely Elementary, in Nevada. In his classroom students are issued their own personal laptops. The laptops are used by students throughout the day. Students up load files to be used for the day, do constrictive bell work activates, use instant messaging to discuss with partner, sequence events of a story, blog about books that they are reading, participate in Internet-based center activist all during the first part of the day. The students use the internet respond to an interactive writing prompt, which they save electorally into a folder for later visitation. Students download their home from the classroom server for the night.

            Fernley Elementary School's goal is that 80% of instruction would be supported with technology in the fourth and fifth grades. The school started by investing n a computer lab, and moved to having several classrooms with one-to-one laptops. Todd says that brining technology to the classroom has been a source of creativity and enthusiasm. Apple as worked with Todd to provide professional development for all of Fernely Elementary. Students at Fernely have become so proficient with new literacy because the school carefully scaffolds new literacies for all students. New literacy instruction begins in kindergarten.

            The question on everyone's mind of course, is if this new technology increases student leaning. A lot of the new literacy skills not those that are assessed on standared test so it is hare to measure the additional knowledge that the students might have gained. Since 2002 Fernley has made adequate yearly progress every year.

All in all Todd's class room exemplify integrating new literacies into the classroom. We know from our reading and class lecture that it is really important to teach student use of new literacies that come with technology. Solely using paper and pencil is highly impractical for preparing students for the world we live in to day. Even though students are not assessed on the skills that new literacies bring, it is still important to teach them. A good literacy teacher can certainly prepare students for standardized test using these new literacies. 

Building the Bridges of Literacy

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I read the article Respecting Students' Cultural Literacies by Elite Ben-Yosef.  It was a very interesting article.  Literacy is the knowledge that a person has about text and their ability to read.  Due to the fact that literacy has multiplicity, Ben-Yosef states that "there is no one Literacy, but many different literacies that represent groups in our society and topics in our culture" (Ben-Yosef, 81).  He gives family literacy, computer literacy, and religious literacy as a few of the different types of literacy.  The article also talks about literacy being social and personal.  "The way in which each of us understands text and language is grounded in our cultural, social, and historical backgrounds" (Ben-Yosef, 81).  All of the things in a reader's life add to their literacy.  The things in a reader's life supply background knowledge and knowledge that the reader can draw from to understand a text.  I had never thought about there being multiple literacies until I read this article.  It makes a lot of sense because people grow up in different environments, surrounded by different types of text or lack of text.  These different upbringings lead to some of the different literacies and makes literacy social and personal.

So how can teachers use this knowledge about literacy?  In the second part of the article, Ben-Yosef explains how we as teachers can use the multiple literacies to increase the learning of our students.  Children from different cultures have different literacies.  Teachers should draw on the knowledge of literacy that these students have instead of forcing our knowledge of literacies on them.  Teachers should draw on the knowledge of all of their students.  Ben-Yosef explains that we need to create bridges between the literacies of the students and the school literacies, "We can create bridges by opening our minds and the doors of our classrooms to local and vernacular literacies and using them as building blocks on which to construct our teaching." (Ben-Yosef, 82).  The article talks about a teacher who used student's home literacies to teach reading.  The teacher had students bring text from their daily lives and homes to the classroom to discuss and learn from.  It is very important for teachers to draw on the literacies that the students know and understand.  This will make it easier for the students to learn new information.  Another teacher in the article had her students teach her the rules of writing rap before she taught them the rules of Shakespeare and sonnets.  This is a very effective teacher practice.  She was using the literacies that her students already knew and understood to learn new information.  To end the article, Ben-Yosef concludes that "Building bridges between home and school literacies ensures a meaningful educational experience for all students" (Ben-Yosef, 82).  In my future classroom I will make sure to build bridges of literacy and I hope you do too!

Ben-Yosef, Elite. "Respecting Students' Cultural Literacies."  Educational Leadership.  61.2.  (2003): 80-82.  Print.  

critical literacy practices

Democracy's Young Heroes: An instructional model of critical literacy practices is about critical literacy practices. The main objective of this article is to provide a model of critical literacy practices related to a social justice issue, and the issue is presented through civic actions of relatively obscure young historical figures. Critical literacy practices are literacy actives that help enlighten the reader about the ulterior designs and multiple meanings of text. These conventions engage the learner on an issue through a protocol for using critical literacy practices. Presenting an actual historical event involving activists provides real madels to help children understand the abstract concepts of literacy and democracy. There are five critical inquiry practices the first is regaining one's identity which creates barriers of seperation between people. The second is call of service, many literacy programs now call for school and community service programs. The third is examining multiple perspectives, this helps learners view text as idealogically constructed and text can have multiple meanings based on various personal values and viewpoints. Another one is finding an authentic voice where listening for the multiple voices in text, learn text has both dominant and silent voices, and to apply first have to personalize this critical concept through discussions. The last practice is recognizing social barriers and crossing borders of separation and having barriers and borders establish boundaries and foster exclusion.

Developing Academic Language: Got Words?

In the article, "Developing Academic Language: Got Words?" the authors focus on academic vocabulary and what professional opinion and research say about building more word knowledge in content areas. The article used the phrase, 'academic vocabulary', and what they mean by that is word knowledge that makes it possible for students to engage with, produce, and talk about the texts that are valued in school. It also points out the relationship between vocabulary knowledge and comprehension. Students today, are expected to understand the new and various technical words that are included in their content texts. Teachers today, commonly ask two questions in regards to the vocabulary instruction; what should attention to academic vocabulary in the content areas look like and which approaches to the vocabulary instruction will most likely produce the most successful results or highest level of acheivement, also considering those students at highest risk for failure? The answer to this that a larger amount of time and emphasis should be put toward developing their vocabularies in more systematic ways.

In a study of observing various classrooms and teachers, too much time, they found, was spent just mentioning and then assigning rather than actually teaching. Also, they found that most of the reading basals that the classrooms were using were not providing the attention to vocabulary needed to help increase comprehension. Direct instruction approaches also were found to improve vocabulary and comprehension. The article also gave some recommendations for teachers to help develop the students' academic language. Teachers should be highly selective about which words to teach, provide multiple encounters with targeted words, provide the students with direct instruction on how to infer word meanings, promote in-depth word knowlegde, and provide students with opportunities to extend their word knowledge. The vocabulary words should be meaningful and therefore tools for meaningful communication as well, the students should be exposed to them multiple times; writing, speaking, listening, and reading them repeatedly, and also, teachers should make attempts to use group activites that require them to manipulate the words through categorization, word association, or semantic analysis.

Early Literacy Instruction in the Climate of No Child Left Behind by Margaret Taylor Stewart

            In this article, its main focus is on the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 five research-based components of reading and oral language which are:  1) Phonemic awareness, 2) Phonics, 3) Vocabulary, 4)Fluency,  and 5) Comprehension, based from the National Reading Panel. In the beginning, it also talks about Title 1 and having a high-quality education for all children, and throughout the article it talks about effective teacher practices.

            To start off, Title 1 states "...is to ensure that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach, at a minimum, proficiency on challenging Stat academic achievement standards and state academic assessments" (pg. 734). This basically says, in the subpart, that every child needs to be reading by grade three and that by having research-based. Teachers need to be knowledgeable in the proven research approaches with reading; that they need to reach out to the students on an individual basis and that using word study is one way on how a teacher can incorporate phonemic awareness, vocabulary, spelling, and high-frequent word recognition within a lesson.

            Moving on to the five research-based components that the National Reading Panel. According to the article, Cunningham and Hall (1994), states that making words has three empirical supports (pg 735). The first support is that learners understand the onsets and rimes better than phoneme isolation. An example given in the text is D-an rather than D-a-n. The second support is that 37 rimes can be found in approximentally 500 words. Some examples given are: -op, -ot, -ack, -ake, and -ice. The final support is the patterns of spelling by using an analogy (735).

            Vocabulary is an aspect of comprehension and vocabulary instruction and is deemed to be a measurement of importance as described by the National Reading Panel (735). Beck and McKeown sayd that effective teachers should use explicit instruction and that they should "take advantage of the students' listening and speaking competencies to enhance their vocabulary development" while providing the students with friendly definitions and explanations to expand the context. The article notes that the teachers promote vocabulary growth (and language development) through authentic and meaningful experiences (737).

            Next is fluency. Repeated readings and giving formal efforts are the two approaches that are to help the students read at a silent reading level while reading books for recreational and instructional use. Pressley stated that being fluent is important because the reader will not have to decode every word within the text before being able to comprehend the text. Samuels (2001) has also reinforced what Pressley said that word recognition comes from the amount of reading that the reader has done (738). Teachers should scaffold what fluent reading sounds to have a good effective practice.

            Comprehension was the final one that was talked about in this article. This article states that "comprehension has three subparts: vocabulary instruction, text comprehension, and teacher preparation of comprehension strategies" (738).  Comprehension needs to be taught explicitly to the students since it is the goal of reading and it needs to be relevant to the students. Discussion of the texts is one effective assessment and way of working on the comprehension strategy (739). Working with small groups is a good way to explicitly teach the students and the groupings need to be flexible (740).

 

Source:

Stewart, Margaret Taylor. "Early Literacy Instruction in the Climate of NO Child Left Behind." International Reading Association. 57.8 (2004): 732-744. Print.

Motivation

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In the article "How Literacy Task Influence Children's Motivation for Literacy" by Julianne Turner and Scott G. Paris, the authors focus on motivation for literacy, not through an implemented reading program but through daily tasks the teacher provides for his/her students. The article continued to persuade readers that open tasks fro motivation where successful in the classroom. An open task consists of providing students with challenge, choice, student control over learning, opportunities to collaborate with others, and construct meaning through reading and writing. Closed tasks include a product or process that is specific and restricted. The author's observations took place in 12 classrooms full of 6 year old students, watching instruction of literacy over 5 days. After this observation in the class room the author's provide the readers with six helpful tips to help motivate students in daily tasks. 1. Give students choice. 2. Provide them with challenge. 3. Allow students to take control over their own learning through planning, evaluation, and self monitoring. 4. Share information in collaboration. 5. Constructive comprehension or making meaning through reading and writing. 6. Consequences promote feelings of competence and efficacy. These helpful tips can make literacy more interactive for students and motivate them in the long run. Another few tips I found in the article that are worth noting including: providing authentic choices for the students to read, allow students to modify tasks to difficulty and interest, show students how to control their own learning, encourage collaboration, emphasize strategy use, and use consequences of tasks to build responsibility, ownership, and self regulation. All of these tips are ways that the authors found to foster motivation. I agree with most of these motivational tools to help students in their literacy learning. The authors give great tips for teachers to try or use continuously. I believe there are other things that can be done as well but these are a good base to start from to foster motivation.   

In "Teaching Expository Text Structures Through Information Trade Book Retelling" by Barbara Moss we as readers are introduced to the concept of expository texts and how we as teachers can teach these texts.  In this article Moss explains what the strategy of retelling is, how to teach expository texts and how teachers can assess students' retellings.

                To start off it is important as a reader and a teacher to understand why it is important that we teach students about expository texts and according to Moss she believes that "teachers are aware of the demands of living in an era when information is increasing at an alarming rate" (710).  Moss also states that "mounting pressures for improved students standardized test performance have resulted in increased attention to exposition" (710).  I agree with Moss in that we as teachers understand living in an era with information increasing at an alarming rate because as a teacher we can all remember a time five or ten years ago that information was not as readily available as it is today.  We as teachers also are able to think about the internet and how its role in text is becoming larger and larger.  Moss's second statement about standardized test also is very accurate because according to Daniels "70 -80% of standardized reading test content is expository" (710).  This once again shows us as teachers why we should be teaching about expository text and learning how to successfully teach this text is very important for our students.

                Expository text used with retelling has "shown promise for engaging students with literature as well as comprehension of expository text structures" (710).  This last sentence shows teachers, administrators, parents and all others concerned about literacy development how important teaching about expository text is to students.  Some of the reasons according to Moss why we should teach about expository texts is because it helps students in the "digital world with the ability to use the Internet quickly, efficiently an affectively which is important to success at school and in the workplace" (711).  Think about this statement, how many times a day do you use the Internet and how often is this text expository.  When you stop to think about this statement you realize nearly almost all of the sites you visit are of expository text and learning about this text is largely important to our students.  While some teachers are teaching expository text we need to remember to expose students early to this type of text (Kindergarten is recommended in the article) and teach these students to read this type of text.  When teaching this text we need to teach the common structures of "description, sequence, comparison and contrast, cause and effect and problem and solution" (711).  As literacy instructors we know that it is important that this text must have authentic literacy tasks and must provide rich opportunities for the students.

                One of these rich opportunities that is authentic is the use of retelling which is the noted strategy in this article.  Retellings are "oral or written postreading recalls during which children relate what they remember from reading or listening to a particular text, recalling as much information as possible not just the main points" (711).  As a teacher we can see that retellings seem easy but we need to remember that students are recalling what they had read which helps with their overall comprehension of the text.  These retellings will also help students develop summarization skills that are important in later grades as well as flexibility to read all types of texts.  When students retell they become actively engaged with a texts which we as literacy teachers have learned how important it is to become engaged with a text.  Engagement with a text helps to increase motivation as we have learned in class from Cambourne's conditions.   According to this article students can also "sense text organization and develop their oral language abilities.  This type of retelling is also very beneficial to ELL students" (712).  As teachers we know it is important to find a strategy that could be adapted for all students as this article explains this text shows that this retelling works and helps ELL students.

                Looking at the type of books that should be selected when using the retelling strategy we need to use "information trade books" and should be selected based on "literacy quality", "books that don't overwhelm students with difficult vocabulary" and finally "books that clearly illustrate the text structure being taught" (712).  As literacy teachers we can also align this information with research and other information that we have learned in class about align books to students making sure that the books are developmentally appropriate as well as using the five finger rule for vocabulary.  A thing to note when teaching about expository texts is that all structures should be taught individually with the easier ones being taught first and gradually moving on to the more difficult text structures.

                Learning about this retelling strategy is very important as a teacher and we need to remember that students will not automatically know how to retell so as teachers we must model this retelling and then have students practice retelling as a large group and then move to a small group for retelling.  A suggested method in this article of retelling is a "cumulative retelling which is ideal for small groups; the 1st student in the group retells the first events from the story, the 2nd student retells the next series of events but repeats the earlier events and this process continues until the entire text has been retold" (715).  As literacy teachers in ELED 3102 we have learned about the whole part whole read aloud lesson plan format which would work wonderful when using this strategy for expository texts.  Looking at this lesson plan we also know that there must be a way to assess students for the work they have done.  In this article Moss suggests using a "scale that is a holistic evaluation of retelling" this scoring method would acknowledge the "student's response as a whole, with all individual, unique features and richness, ability to identify main ideas, details, overall text structure and infer beyond text, summarize and relate text to own life" (716).  Using this way of assessment we as literacy teachers would acknowledge that fact that all students are unique and not all retellings will be the same.  We also need to remember that we want to push students to make text to self-connections to make the text more authentic for their own life.  This assessment will also allow teachers the ability to see how these students comprehend the text and if they will need further work with expository text.

                As mentioned in this blog previous it is important that we implement this strategy of retelling for comprehension through the use of the whole-part-whole lesson plan which allows for teacher modeling and then student practice.  This article is very important to refer to as a strategy guide for help when we as literacy teachers are introducing expository texts into our classroom someday.  I personally believe that this strategy is effective and could be beneficial to teachers when introducing expository texts.

Multiple Ways to Comprehend Text

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In the article "Democracy's young heroes: An instructional model of critical literacy practices" by A. Vincent Ciardiello, Ciardiello talks about the importance of students learning about different situations from multiple points of view.  The author gives five literacy practices that he suggests all readers need to use when they are reading.  These five practices are: examining multiple perspectives, finding one's authentic voice, recognizing social barriers and crossing borders of separation, regaining one's identity, and listening and responding to "the call of service". Through these five perspectives, a reader comes to understand the text they are reading in more effective ways.  They understand that the text needs to be comprehended in multiple ways to get the full meaning from it.

An example from the article, is a classroom talking about desegregation of schools in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1960.  The main person being taught about is Ruby Bridges.  By implementing the five practices of literacy the author describes, the students are able to comprehend what others in that time would have thought about desegregation.  The students are able to think about how they would have felt at the time and what they would have done in this situation.

I personally think that having students learn to understand text in multiple ways helps increase their understanding of the text later on.  They are able then to remember the information from that text more fluently and comprehensively.  It also provides them with background knowledge for later text of the same concept.

Response to Intervention

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In the article "Response to Intervention (RTI):  What Teachers of Reading Need to Know" by Eric M. Mesmer and Heidi Anne E. Mesmer, Response to Intervention is defined as a "process measuring whether a learner's academic performance improves when provided with well-defined, scientifically based interventions.  In an RTI model, the 'tests' of whether students possess learning disabilities are not standardized measures but students' measured responses to interventions."  The RTI process consists of five steps.  In the first step, all students in the school are screened on basic literacy skills, and the students' scores are compared to benchmark scores.  Students who do not meet benchmark receive additional help through scientifically valid interventions (Step 2).  In Step 3, progress-monitoring assessments are done with the students to assess the effectiveness of the interventions being used.  In Step 4, interventions are individualized for readers who continue to struggle, with the student's progress continued to be monitored.  Finally in Step 5, for readers who still continue to struggle, the student's eligibility for special education services is determined.  The authors said that they "have seen this RTI approach increase the quantity and quality of instruction for struggling readers."  Instead of having to wait while school staff discusses the problem, collects data on it, and writes about it before actually doing anything about it, the RTI model quickly begins additional reading instruction with the student to start the process of working toward improved reading and working toward the goal of reading at grade level.  I agree with the authors that this is a positive approach toward helping students improve with their reading, instead of right away just labeling the student as having a learning disability.  With collaborative efforts of school staff, effective reading interventions can be determined and utilized for students that will help them improve with their reading.

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