The Nature of my Inquiry Challenge

 Throughout term one, I collected and analysed sources of student data to identify what was causing my students progress in reading to stall. I used both summative/formative assessment (PAT/ Probe/ ARBs/ Student's learning in class) and collected student voice through an interview and survey. 

I analysed some of these in greater depth and posted about them here and here.

In this post I will be looking at the trends I discovered after analysing all of my student data. This will enable me to identify the aspects of reading that my intervention needs to address, as I will be aware of the things that my students struggle with.

Low motivation/ confidence

From my student voice collection - both my interview and survey, the students expressed a disinterest in reading. Only one student reported reading for fun outside of literacy class and shared that reading is their favourite subject. The other students all shared that they prefer other subjects and don't feel very good about reading. One student said "I used to like reading when I was little, but one year my teacher forced me to read a harder book for SSR and after that I got dumb at reading". Most students also said they felt they were bad or "dumb at reading".  The others only rate themselves as 'okay'.

It is clear that I have got to support my learners to feel more confident in their reading ability and to enable them to experience success.

Comprehending the whole text/ purpose

In the summative/ formative assessments and from observing their in class behaviour, I identified the areas of reading that present the biggest challenges. The students were all able to skim and scan, decode vocabulary (at least to pronounce a word correctly) and identify information in a text. They ace specific literal questions such as "what colour was red riding hood's cloak?". However, they find it far more challenging to summarise the text overall, find inferencing challenging and could be way off with the authors purpose for learning. Just as I discovered last year, they often whiz through a text without identifying where they get lost and then try to fill in the gaps using their own experiences or predictions. This prevents them from identifying the key points of a story, let alone making inferences or evaluations.

Vocabulary

This was the most significant trend I identified by far. In classwork, assessment and in the student voice it was clear that unfamiliar vocabulary trips my students up the most! Recently I read a story with my students (Destination Planet Earth by Ron Jolly, which contained these sentences in an early paragraph "Are you okay, Bede?" Rune enquired. This was a rhetorical question as the spaceship was virtually maintenance free even after on hundreds of trips".  My target group read this beautifully, perhaps getting stuck with the silent h in rhetorical, but mostly reading with fluency. I asked them how well they understood the paragraph, they all said fine. They could tell me what happened in the earlier sentences, tactically ignoring this part of the text. When I asked what challenging words they needed clarified, they picked rhetorical as it was harder to decode. None of them understood the words enquired, virtually or maintenance free, but they didn't have the awareness to stop and use a strategy. It took us about ten minutes until they finally all understood that section of text. 

As such, my students need support in two ways. First, they need to recognise aspects of a text that they don't understand, to realise that correct pronunciation of a word isn't the same as knowing its meaning. Secondly,  they need to learn strategies to help them make sense of unfamiliar vocabulary. I hypothesise that these strategies will have the biggest impact on their reading achievement, versus learning strategies that relate to other areas of reading e.g. synthesising information.



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