*Please note: In order to protect the privacy and rights of anyone mentioned, a pseudonym will be used for all people mentioned excluding myself.
Unfortunately, I was sick during this past week of school and I am still getting over this sickness. I only had a minor cold but I still felt congested and had a sore throat throughout the week. Although I was not feeling that great, I made sure that I focused even harder on paying attention and helping my students. As an intern, I expect that I will get sick multiple times throughout the year due to my contact with so many people. I understand that this is a risk that all teachers face; however, I do not mind because I love working with children and helping them succeed. Even though I was sick, I did not let that stop me from doing my best in the classroom to help students. Although it was difficult at times, I still put my best effort into working with my collaborating teacher and my students.
During the previous week (9/9/13-9/13/13) I gave the Elementary Reading Attitude Survey (ERAS) to the student that I am mentoring. I also had a short interview with this student, named Amanda*. I learned a lot about her from both assessments and I hope to use this information to provide her with interesting and engaging reading materials that are directly related to her personal interests. I know that an interesting book is very important for students because according to the book Reading with Meaning, “John Guthrie and Nicole Humenick found that ensuring that students had access to an array of interesting texts produced reading achievement gains roughly four times as large as the small effect of producing systematic phonics instruction as reported by the National Reading Panel” (Miller 52). When I first read that statement I was shocked at the large impact interesting texts had on reaching achievement gains, but it does make sense. I know from my personal experience with reading, I will work harder with books that interest me. If I struggle with reading a boring book, I will most likely give up. If I do somehow finish the book, I will not get as much out of it as I would for an interesting text. For example, when I was in high school I had to read the novel Heart of Darkness** by Joseph Conrad. The book did not interest me at all and I struggled to complete it. After I finished the book, I had to write a research paper about it and I struggled yet again. I have always loved reading and I do not mind having to read books for class but a boring book is always a struggle for me. Other books that I read in class, for example One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, was much more interesting for me, especially after I had read it twice, so I was easily able to write a roughly two thousand word paper about that novel. One Hundred Years of Solitude** was still a challenging novel but I enjoyed it so I had an easier time with my research paper for that book. If I examine my own experiences with challenging novels, I can obviously see that an interesting book provides a better experience with reading; therefore, I model my teaching strategies around providing interesting texts.
Books should always be interesting in content and in format. Students should typically read a ‘just right’ book but sometimes they want to read an easier or more challenging book. The Charlotte Huck’s Children’s Literature textbook stresses the importance of books that reflect the current needs of a child that, “Sometimes children need to pick a book that is easy to read, just for the fun of it. At other times children have a fascination with a long book in which they search for familiar words and teach themselves to read. We need not limit the emergent reader’s book exposure to just predictable books” (Kierfer 139). As a future educator, I believe that it is important for students to have access to interesting books. Students do not always need to read to learn; sometimes they need to learn to love to read. Teachers should always provide opportunities and books that challenge students in a productive manner as well as books that are enjoyable for the reader. I am currently researching books from both categories for my student, Amanda*.
This week, I discovered Amanda’s Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) scores as well as her FAIR test scores. To protect the rights and privacy of my student, I cannot reveal this information; however, I will use her scores, as well as the survey and interview information from last week, to determine what I can do to best help my student. I also compiled a chart of the DRA information for all of the students in my class for my collaborating teacher. This information will be used to form reading groups and determine what areas students need help in. For example, if some students have problems with summarizing and predicting, my collaborating teacher and I can provide lessons and activities that directly correlate with learning these skills.
This past week was a great week. My collaborating teacher and I spoke together after school about setting goals for myself in the classroom. We decided that I will work on “convey[ing] high expectations to all students.” I will also “model clear, acceptable oral and written communication skills.” In the future, I plan on doing a read aloud in the classroom and possibly modeling a writing assessment for my students. Another goal that I have for my classroom experience is to “use a variety of data, independently and in collaboration with colleagues, to evaluate learning outcomes, adjust planning and continuously improve the effectiveness of lessons.” My collaborating teacher has invited me to the next PLC in which the teachers will discuss the FAIR test results and lesson plans that revolve around that data. My collaborating teacher and I also discussed the ethics of being a teacher and always carrying oneself in a professional manner. I am very excited for the opportunity to reach my goals.
** Please note that Heart of Darkness and One Hundred Years of Solitude are adult novels with adult content. These novels are meant for older students and should never be introduced to elementary school children. I provided these novels as examples of my own experience but I would not mention them by name in a classroom due to their adult content.
- Kiefer, Barbara Zulandt, and Charlotte S. Huck. Charlotte Huck’s Children’s Literature. N.p.: n.p., 2010. Print.
- Miller, Debbie. Reading with Meaning: Teaching Comprehension in the Primary Grades. N.p.: n.p., 2013. Print.