Foster Student Self-Evaluation

 

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A few of my 2015-2016 Strategic Readers

 

I haven’t posted in a while, because like many of you, I’ve been plodding through the second busiest time of the school year.  After the first weeks of school, the next busiest time for me is finals week.  

Even high school reading intervention classes engage in a version of finals. The final in my class has multiple purposes, the least of which is a larger-than-normal notation in the grade book. My focus is on helping my students understand their own growth.  The freshman year is the last opportunity for this type of intervention in this district. The intervention process I proposed for secondary was implemented district-wide in grades 6-9. Since I teach students in the last year of the intervention, I want students to move forward with a grasp of what they have gained through this experience, where they still need to improve, and what they can do to continue to grow.

Throughout each semester, every piece of data produced by the students is kept in their individual files.  This includes strategy lessons, annotated texts, reading reflections, morphology practice and weekly quizzes, reciprocal teaching documentation, exit slips, etc.  All of it is used to help the students develop and apply skills to become better readers, writers, and thinkers and help me make instructional choices for the students.  Intervention instructional decisions are not always clear-cut, but they are made with attention to formative data. Each piece of data contributes to a picture and feeds daily instructional choices.

At the end of a semester, or for some students the end of the school year,  they are asked to analyze the details of this picture to help them develop their own image of their growth.  The end product of the analysis is an essay. The requirements of this essay are consistent with our intervention focus to improve each student’s literacy skills, motivation, and self-perception as reader.  Often the process to construct this final essay is the moment the students finally realize their gains, the impact of their effort, and the changes in how they see themselves and the purpose of the class. 

Below are the  elements students use to prep the essay.   I also linked a couple of essays.  The first sample is from a student (Monica) who doubled typical yearly growth in a semester to earn a grade level score (220) on the MAP. Our goal as a district intervention is to at least double the typical yearly growth in an effort to close the gap. Additionally, Monica’s QRI (Quantitative Reading Inventory) instructional reading level moved to an upper middle school level from the 4th grade level at which she started the quarter.   Monica is also an ESL student who intentionally seeks to expand her use of English vocabulary.  I think her essay shows some of her growth in this area as well. 

In the second sample, the student (Destiny) did double typical growth in the first semester, but dropped in her second semester, and did not meet her overall personal goal or attain a grade level MAP score.  She had a larger gap to bridge and computerized standardized tests produced obvious physical anxiety for her.  So even though the MAP did not show her obvious growth, her QRI scores did.  Destiny also grew from an instructional reading level of 4th grade to an instructional level of upper middle school.  I also found her thoughtfulness about her process to be one of the greatest indicators of development. 

How do you assess student literacy development?  What formative data do you collect to make decisions or assess short-term growth?  What summative or standardized assessments does your district require to determine that students are making adequate progress?

Engaged Reading in Content Classes

One way a reading or intervention specialist can support a content teacher is to make the process of reading-to-learn more manageable.  I enjoy helping teachers use instructional strategies (or techniques) that engage all students and require all students be accountable for their own reading and learning.  Sometimes the best text to address a difficult concept is lengthy and requires considerable concentration from students. Teachers want ways to help students read AND learn the content.

This semester, I had the privilege of co-teaching in Biology classes. Access teachers (special education, ESL, reading specialists) sometimes feel intimidated by content for which we are definitely not experts. I certainly feel this way in Biology.   However, access teachers have the expertise to accommodate students in processing lengthy texts to learn important new information.  Because Biology is a difficult topic for me, my modeling of meaning-making strategies are genuine and authentic.  I am a reader trying to make meaning of content that doesn’t come naturally to me as a learner. This is just part of the power of the access teacher – content teacher collaboration.

Below is a process I collaboratively implemented in Biology classes in my building.  I realize I am very fortunate to work with content teachers so willing to help students read to access new knowledge.

Collaborative Guided Summary & Jigsaw Groups 

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  1. In “expert” groups students all receive the same text.  This can be fourths of a larger text or different texts that address a topic from multiple perspectives, etc. In Biology, we divided a long text about Charles Darwin’s development of the Theory of Evolution into 5 pieces.  Each piece was independently comprehensible. The first section is used to model the entire process (in parts or all at once) and introduce students to the topic.  The four other sections are copied and divided among “expert” groups, meaning all members in the group have the same piece of text about which they will become “experts.” 

2.  The co-teacher and access teacher model all of the steps:

A.  Access teacher reads and highlights important vocabulary. (Model
first couple paragraphs, guide students with the next couple.)
B. Content teacher “retells” using the highlighted vocabulary
(words & phrases)  to relay 
the main idea(s) of the section.
C. Access teacher asks any clarifying questions about the content.  This would include questions about concepts, language, & vocabulary that block understanding of the text.
D. One of the teachers models merging these ideas on the guided summary sheet.  Again, break this process down as works best for your class.

  1. Before reading:  The students begin the process of completing the “Guided Summary” form.  This, too, is modeled by the content teacher.  Before reading, students will identify title, subtitle, and use the text features to identify the topic of the text.  This form is completed by each student so that they will have the accurate information when they switch into a jigsaw groups.
  1. Students complete the reading process adhering to the following ROLES:
    1. Reader reads aloud 1-2 paragraphs at a time. The stop points can be designated on the text by the teachers in advance. 
    2. Reteller (who, like all of the students, has been annotating for essential ideas and vocabulary) retells (summarizes) the section aloud.  Other students offer any adjustments.
    3. Recorder identifies important words and phraseunspecified-33d, especially those repeated frequently, to the vocabulary section of the Guided Summary
    4. Clarifier asks clarifying questions. These should be identified by the students as the reader reads each section.  Additional confusions may arise as the reteller verbalizes the main ideas from the section.  If the retelling is too difficult, confusion is probably present.

 

  1. The content and access teachers are checking for adherence to process  and understanding of content.  When confusion can’t be clarified within the group, the content teacher can support students by answering questions or guiding students through a process to repair the confusion.  Teachers may also “Catch and Release” by stopping students to address common confusions with completing the process. 
  1. Students repeat the process until the entire passage is read, verbally summarized, and all the essential vocabulary is recorded on the “Guided Summary.”  
  1. Students work together as an expert group to use the  title/subtitle, topic, and vocabulary to develop an overall main idea for the text.  (This is modeled with the initial piece of text prior to the students’ efforts.)  Students then go section-by-section and use their annotation and vocabulary to develop a structured summary that supports the main idea.   This may be the last step in a class period. 
  1.  Potentially in a second class period (we function in 80-minute blocks),         students then shuffle to jigsaw groups.  This is a group that, once  gathered, has one student representing each of all four sections of the text (in this case about Charles Darwin). They share their summaries and ask each other clarifying questions.
  1. Then, as a group, Students read and  answer a few targeted implicit and
    explicit questions prepared by the  content teacher about the article  These questions are developed to  intentionally need the collaboration of all members and use multiple sections  of the text. The students are required to work together to think through  application of the new knowledge.   

Recently, I completed a similar process in an ESL class reading Romeo and Juliet. The content teacher chose four pieces of text about arranged marriages (both pro and con). We co-taught (team teaching model) using this same process, but with four different different texts, different perspectives.  The final questions still required students to pull evidence from more than one of the texts to answer focused questions about the cumulative learning.

This process is a lot more challenging to write about than to demonstrate in person.  If visualizing this process through my writing is challenging, please ask questions.  On the other hand, if it seems to makes sense, consider using it on your own or in a co-teaching setting, and let me know how it goes.