Sunday, February 24, 2013

Representing Miscue Analyses

Educators use miscue analysis to reveal whether students are flexibly using syntactic, semantic, and graphophonic systems for meaning-making with a text by asking four essential questions:
  1. Does it sound like normal language?
  2. Does what they say make sense?
  3. Does the reading change the meaning of the sentence in a way that matters in the whole text?
  4. Are the miscues graphophonically similar to the text?
A spider or radar chart shown below is a useful visual representation that easily depicts the strengths and weaknesses in strategies the child is using.  Try it below! (Be sure to enter values between 0-100)

Here are also some signs to look out for that may demonstrate a preference in strategy that a child may be using:

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Leveling - A Double Edged Sword

Upon reflecting on Glasswell & Ford's article, "Lets Start Leveling About Leveling," I'm reminded that while leveling is based off the idea that children need to spend time with texts that can help them grow and develop as readers, an unintentional orthodoxy has been observed that has resulted in a focus on inflexible implementation of the "one right way" to engage and address that goal.  It is observed that a teacher's judgement has diminished in the leveling process and lists and numbers increasingly replaced those judgments.

As educators, it is necessary to remember that leveling systems are unable to assess whether a child is reading in an emotionally safe and comfortable setting and that they only acknowledge reader factors that can quickly be assessed and interpreted.  This method of quick, efficient assessment has unintentionally masked the complexity of the text factors at play in determining why a book is considered more difficult than another for any given reader on any given day.

We should be reminded that the job of the teacher is to stay attuned to those complex influencing factors when choosing texts for our students and to be more flexible in thinking about a reader's needs.  The selected texts should be both age appropriate and engaging for the reader in order to stimulate the reader's thinking.  In the end, a teacher's professional judgement still remains the critical factor in planning and implementing successful reading instruction.

For the original source & article, Glasswell & Ford's article, "Lets Start Leveling About Leveling," can be found in the journal: Language Arts, Volume 88, No. 3, January 2011.

Monday, February 11, 2013

It Happened "Auto-schema-tically"

Last Thursday, I was sitting in my Art Methods course and the professor read a passage called "The Great Peace."  While I didn't know it at the time, the passage was taken from an old Iroquois Legend about The Peacemaker and the Tree of Peace.  The passage spoke of a tree whose roots spread into the four directions: one to the north, one to the south, one to the east, and one to the west:

"Into the depths of the earth, down into the deep under earth currents of water flowing into unknown regions, we cast all weapons of strife.  We bury them from sight forever and plant again the tree.  Thus shall all Great Peace be established and hostilities shall no longer be known between the Five Nations but only peace to a united people."

"We have completed our power so that we the Five Nations Confederacy shall in the future have one body, one mind, and one heart.  If any evil should befall us in the future, we shall stand or fall united as one man."

After reading the passage to the class, the professor asked us to draw an image that represented our interpretation of the passage.  Many of my classmates began drawing beautiful and creative drawings of trees.  However while I was listening to the passage, it did not occur to me that the passage was truly about a tree, and thus I was viewing it from a symbolic perspective.  Therefore, I began to draw in my sketchpad the Shield of Achilles (which I've never seen) based upon a text-to-self/world connection.  I remember watching a movie in which the argument was posed that the scenes of normal life depicted on Achilles' shield suggested an alternative to war.  I thought that a shield is something in which weapons are cast upon.  A shield could have a cross pointing in all directions as a compass.  A shield could be called a tree since it's made of wood.  Lastly, it could be divided into 5 sections to symbolize the Five Nations that was mentioned.

This particular experience made me realize and further understand the concept of schemas and how we automatically use our background knowledge and what we already know to make sense of what we experience.  As educators, it is important to note that students also learn and make sense of things by starting off with what they know.  By utilizing this natural tendency of our students, we can hope to increase their understanding beyond the text through the many connections that they can make to the text.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Does "Sounding It Out" Work?

Try "sounding it out" is a phrase we've all encountered in the classroom culture during our elementary days in the United States.  But what does that really mean?  Can an individual really decipher any word by simply sounding it out, especially when there are countless exceptions in the English language in which words are not phonetically consistent?

As educators, we should strive to instruct our students to not only depend on phonics to solve unknown words, but to use all the sources of information available to them.  The chart on the left depicts three sources of information with which we use to "decode" words - Meaning, Structure, and Visual.  When students learn to integrate and balance meaning, structure, and visual information, they can continue to develop into proficient readers. While it is important to pay attention to make predictions based off of the three sources of information, students need to also take on the responsibility of checking for themselves and waiting for someone else to monitor their errors for them.