As a secondary student, I hardly get the chance to work with younger kids. When I was told by my professor that we would be working with younger students, I was thrilled! Even though this boy might be younger than I’m used to, I’m excited to incorporate ideas and strategies I’ve learned and accommodate for his level, and then relate this to older students in my other clinicals/future classroom.
This spring I’m enrolled in a Diagnostic/Remedial Reading course at Waldorf College. This class is focused on reading strategies and comprehension, ways of teaching both reading and writing, and learning skills to analyze and strengthen students’ literacy skills.
For my in-class clinical, I’ve been working with a ten-year-old boy. The goal of working with this student is to see where he is with his reading / writing / comprehension levels and create a plan and implement strategies to develop and strengthen these to grade level or higher over the course of six weeks.
On the first day of meeting this boy, my group of two classmates and I decided to make the focus on getting to know him and getting a taste of his abilities.
We started with introductions and asked the student questions about himself, his interests, hobbies, favorite subject, sports he played, etc. I think this is important because it breaks the ice between the students and the teachers and makes things more comfortable. Plus, the focus isn’t on academics from the start, instead, it becomes more fun.
From the introductions, we learned that he was a home schooled student with high conversational abilities and a wide base of knowledge. His favorite subject is history, and in that first session, he rattled off dates and names regarding World War II and army tanks. It was obvious that he was smart, attentive, and excited to learn. In fact, halfway through our introductions he said, “Okay, well, I’m ready when you are!” It was definitely exciting to see a young student so ready to get started!
The first activity we did was have him read from a sight word list. We started with a 3rd and then moved to a 4th grade level. We started with the lower level to not only make him more comfortable and confident due to the easier words, but to also ensure what level would be his instructional reading level.
He struggled with one word on the 3rd grade list and two on the 4th grade list. This helped us to see that he was closer to a 4th/5th grade level, with strong phonetic awareness [spelling, sounds of letters] and graphophonemic cueing [symbol/sound relationships].
Our group had previously created a display of several books at different grade levels and after reading the sight word lists, we asked the student to choose a book that interested him and read small passages. During this time, we listened and silently recorded his miscues—again, looking at determining his reading level as well as his fluency.
From both of these activities we found that he struggled with fluency and comprehension at times—interrupting his reading to ask questions or stopping to sound out words [a positive, but something that hindered his reading flow and overall understanding of the text].
Since we were working with this student for an hour and a half during this session, we decided to take a break at this point and take a walk outside and around campus. It was a beautiful day, too!
While on our walk, we had the student read a description on a statue. This was challenging for him, but since he is interested in different building materials and items regarding war [the statue was a Viking warrior], he was interested and could connect his prior knowledge to what he was reading about the statue.
The final activity we did on this first session was Jenga, but every time you pulled out a block, you had to spell a word. This was a fun ending activity that left everyone on a positive note, but still incorporated reading and writing skills.
As we move forward, our group plans to determine his for sure reading level and work on comprehension specifically. I’m excited to see how this goes!