Connections one CTEP at a Time 06.01.2017 ─One of my first memories of reading was in a closet at about five years old. I had a stack of various books and went through them one by one for hours. Even the first experiences with reading I learned that I could escape with books. I liked taking journeys to new places like Narnia or learning new facts about elephants on a safari. Most kids collected cards or toys, I collected books. This continued through middle school and high school. If something was too overwhelming I grabbed a book and escaped. As a teacher I often remember my love for reading and want to instill this into my own students. Meeting My Hedgehogs I was assigned three reading classes this year. My first group was the top thirty of the grade level. My second group was the bottom twenty-five. From the bottom twenty-five I had the lowest twelve in the afternoon for interventions. For this project I focused on the hedgehog group. I met this group in early August as we worked on team building and expectations. I noticed right away even the fun stuff was a challenge for this group. They needed everything read aloud and had a very difficult time writing anything for some even their name was a struggle. The second week of school we got out the reading series our school uses and started with the first story. I noticed the class immediately moved to a level of frustration just taking a picture walk through the first story. We put the series aside and I called them to the reading carpet to listen to a story read by me and told them I would be asking questions after each page. This seemed to immediately engage them. They wanted to come to the carpet. They has excitement after hearing I would read. All eyes were on me as I began reading. I chose Edward the Emu by Sheena Knowles. I chose this book because it was the first in a reading companion unit I used every year. As I read about Edward going from cage to cage at the zoo students followed every word. They answered general questions about setting and other story elements. I continued and Edward the Emu wished he was every animal but himself as he gave us a glimpse at life in a zoo. I was so impressed with the engagement of my students. As we came to the end of the book I started focusing on connections. I wanted students to think about a time in their life they went to a zoo or wished they were someone else. I demonstrated turn and talk and listened to conversations about connections. Honestly there was not much student talk and it quickly turned off topic. So I asked the class to share a connection. Not one hand went up and I gave a connection I made and one group raised their hand. When I called on them they wanted to ask a question…. “Mrs. Ransey, Why is that chicken in Simba’s hamster’s cage?” I was puzzled and the class all agreed and wanted to know why? So the emu reminded them of a chicken and the zoo made them think of a first grade class pet hamster in his cage. I started making my own connections and asked who has been to a zoo? Not one hand went up. They all wanted to someday. Data
My focus group contains 25 students, 8 ELL, 15 boys and 10 girls, there are 4 IEPs for Speech and no additional IEPs.
Initial MAP data showed all students performing in the Novice area far below their peers.
STAR reading showed a class range of 0.8 (eighth month of kindergarten) to 1.2 (first grade second month)
STAR and MAP showed a substantial gap in informational reading compared to vocabulary (20 point gap) and reading fiction (15 point gap)
The strength of the group is that each year they consistently grow. This group began kindergarten lacking most readiness skills and have been a year or more behind their peers each level.
Now What? I knew where all of my students were after a indepth look at assessment and previous data. As a professional I knew the textbook had to go. We were not going to progress when the textbook immediately put my students in the frustration level during instruction. So I decided to use their strength reading fiction and paired it with their weakness comprehending nonfiction and began teaching strategies for reading text at their ZPD. We spent most of our days with a quick virtual field trip to introduce the topic, we spent time reading fiction independently and nonfiction together. I would model the strategy of the week in a read aloud and then in small groups or pairs students would practice the skill with guidance from me as needed. By Christmas they needed less help from me and more time to explore independently. Time for the Textbook Returning in January I decided to pull out the textbook again. My students were excited to have the books and we tried a picture walk. They shared connections, wrote questions on post it notes, recorded facts in their journals and demonstrated many more strategies we had worked on the last five months. The frustration was gone and the confidence level was boosted. We finished the year using one textbook story, a fiction piece and a nonfiction piece each week. I continued to introduce new strategies each week and my students practiced. The direct instruction was still needed, but a minilesson. My students spent most of reading class reading and exploring on their own and sharing at the end of class. Where will they go next? We started the year with a class average of 1.0 and ended the year with a class average of 3.0. Yes, they are still a grade level behind but the gap is now closer than it has ever been for these students. Most importantly no matter what text they pick up they have strategies on how to read it. They have confidence in themselves on what they can read. They know now where reading can take them. Noraa Ransey North Calloway Elementary Murray, Ky 42071