Blog Post 5 – Reflection

August 18, 2007 at 7:38 am | Posted in uncategorized | 14 Comments

First of all, WOW!!  Excellent responses to Blog Post #4!!  I truly enjoyed reading your comments and insights.  We sure have come a long way since the first post went up.

Now for the newest post: 

Reflect on your initial responses to the 8 statements on the anticipation guide discussed the first night of class.  Identify 2-3 statements where your thinking has changed or deepened.  Share your insights.

  • All students should have solid reading and writing skills by the time they reach middle school.
  • Students should discuss their assigned readings only after they have had a chance to read it independently first.
  • Vocabulary is learned best when it is taught within the context of a lesson.
  • It is the job of all teachers to create lifeong readers.
  • Textbooks provide adequate reading passages for students.
  • Reading independently is a passive experience.
  • Teaching reading strategies in the content areas will take away valuable teaching time.
  • There are limited text resources to use in the content areas.

I’m already looking forward to what you all have to say…

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  1. When I first began teaching I thought that reading in my class would take away from the time I needed to give students the information that would be on the state test. However after developing various lessons I was able to work in content along with reading strategies and make it fun. I have found out that students have trouble with reading a passage from a textbook or an article and pulling the important information from it. Students need to be guided as they read in order to pull the important information. Students also need to be shown how to do the various reading strategies in order for them to understand exactly how it will work (Teacher Modeling). Reading in the content area has the potential to be exciting and meaningful to students as we have seen in the various book talks that took place Friday night. There were alot of books that were targeted towards students and the content area that were fun to read but still taught the students something.

    I like many beginning teachers thought that all kids could read by the time they reached middle school but as I soon found out some students still struggle with reading in high school. I then realized that I could not pass these students off to the reading specialist that saw these students 1-2 times a week for an hour. It was my job to help these students read the textbook, labs, and class assignments. I remember feeling overwhelmed by realizing I had to teach this student reading. I then was able to collaborate with other teachers to develop ways to help this student read. These ways included pair reading and story boards. Not only do these methods benefit the struggling readers but the other students benefit and retain more information as a result. Many of the reading strategies we have used and developed will be of great help in a classroom for struggle readers and non-struggling readers. I know for a fact that many of these activities I have developed and learned about will be put to good use in my classroom.

  2. The first statement that we have discussed and that I have changed my response to is that of “Textbooks provide adequate reading passages for students”. My initial response was to disagree because text books have such a negative stigma to them. Personal experience has shown me that I do not like using textbooks so I had a bad attitude about them! After our discussion in class and the tricks and tips we learned about, I now see that textbooks can be a useful tool in the classroom. The most important thing for me to remember is that textbooks can be a good source of reading passages along with supplemental reading to add to our students learning. We have learned about many additional sources to supplement the textbooks we use and make them more relevant and useful for the students.

    This leads into the next statement in which my thinking has deepened. My initial response to the statement, “There are limited text resources to use in the content areas”, was too disagree. While I still disagree that there are limited text resources to use in our content areas, I now have a plethora of options and ideas to use based on the many strategies that we learned and the great book talks from Friday night. I am especially excited to read “Math Doesn’t Suck” as presented by Amy and the “Sir Cumference” books that Laurie so artfully read for us. “Tuesday’s with Morrie”, Lee’s book of choice sounds very inspirational and will also shortly be added to my personal library. The fact that our resources are really limitless had been ingrained and I will constantly be on the lookout for readings to do in my classroom.

  3. I’m changing my point of view on the comment, “All students should have solid reading and writing skills by the time they reach middle school.” I have to agree with Stefanie on this comment. Being a 9th grade teacher, I expect that my students come to 9th grade already knowing how to read and write mathematics and other subjects. I did not realize until one of my students could not comprehend a math problem because they couldn’t read it and comprehend what the problem was asking.
    I think it’s a good thing to introduce these books presented in class to our students so that they may appreciate reading. I really like Stefanie’s idea of taking students aside and teaching them how to read a text book or word problem. By giving students these general applications, they will be able to apply them to all of their courses. It’s such a great idea… although it takes planning time away, I’d rather see my students suceed.
    I agree with Sarah that we all have to broden our thinking in literacy. There are many other sources of information at our fingertips that we could introduce to our students. Even just to introduce students to reading instead of assigning them, might help them to appreciate reading and get them interested in certain books. So with the comment, “There are limited text resources to use in the content areas,” I would have to change my mind. As teachers we are given the “option” of using our textbook. I think we are supposed to think outside the box and use other mediums.

  4. Much like Stefanie in her statement that she “thought that all kids could read by the time they reached middle school but as [she] soon found out some students still struggle with reading in high school.”, when I started this class, my immediate reaction to the question about shouldn’t students have solid reading and writing skills by the time they reach middle school, was a resounding “of course they should!”. After all, couldn’t I read by the time I got to middle school? But after taking this course, I quickly realized that you can only teach the younger students so much about reading before it goes above their learning level for their age. When I think about it, of course I was continually taught how to read in the higher grades and continued to expand on my reading abilities. During this course, I also learned that students need to be guided to deepening their reading and writing skills and teachers of all subjects play a huge factor in helping them achieve this. Stefanie’s experience and insights into this and how she has worked reading into her classroom due to a real necessity for it is a great example of how to take what he learned from this course and apply it to our own teaching. The course has made me realize that students are still learning to read, not just the words on the page, but learning how to understand what they are reading. That learning needs to be fostered along their journey to help them become good readers and to help set them up for a successful future of learning.

    In regards to textbooks as an adequate reading passage for students, I initially disagreed with this since I thought that there were probably a million other sources to use for teaching that would be so much better than a complicated math text book. While reading Sarah’s comment on how “how textbooks have such a negative stigma to them” that immediately reminded me of how I thought about a math textbook (and for that matter any of my science textbooks from high school as well.) Although, I still disagree with using only a textbook in the classroom, I have seen how it can be a valuable tool if you teach the students “how to read it” and therefore would classify it as an adequate reading passage (as stated in the anticipation guide statement), but not the only reading passage. There really is a huge amount of important information in a math text. So much information that it can get really overwhelming and confusing to students, especially since there tends to be sidebars and charts and graphs and, and, and included on every page. But walking the students through the textbook and showing them how to utilize it to aid in their learning will be a great benefit in allowing the students to make the most of a critical resource. I also found myself using a textbook to aid with all of my reading strategies that we worked on in this class. Although most of the reading passages in the actual lessons and activities where not from the textbook, I was able to see how to correlate the textbook to other text sources to help develop the concepts and skills that the students need to key into and learn. This also has helped me to realize and understand how to show students “how” to use their textbook to help them while going through activities in class.

  5. On the first bullet regarding students having solid reading and writing skills by the time the reach middle school, my thinking has definitely deepened on this subject. While I realized that this is a big issue, my understanding of the topic itself was greatly expanded, and I now know not only what literacy strategies (pre, during, post) are available to help address the issue, but also how to use them. I also thought that the group project (or individual depending on your perspective) done by Stephanie was quite enlightening. It was great to see the different strategies being used in the classroom and gave me a much better understanding of what I need to be thinking about when I’m in a classroom environment myself. I plan to use some of her ideas in my own classroom.

    On the second bullet, regarding discussing assigned readings only after they’ve read it independently first, again my understanding has deepened – by quite a lot. Although I didn’t agree with this statement at first, I now have a much better understanding of what needs to be done when an assignment involves a reading activity. Access prior knowledge, pre reading strategies, using graphic organizers, etc. all help with student understanding. I, like Sarah and Aimee, believe we all have to broaden our thinking regarding the student’s literary abilities. Assessment is an important part, but then understanding what literacy strategy works best for a particular student and implementing that strategy are key. I definitely feel my understanding of this topic has increased tremendously after taking this class!

  6. I would have to say that I am firm still on what I believe. I do tend to agree with Aimee on that you do expect students to be proficient by the time they reach highschool.
    * All students should have solid reading and writing skills by the time they reach middle school. —-Yes, I think by high school, students should have these skills.
    * Students should discuss their assigned readings only after they have had a chance to read it independently first. —- I don’t think this to be true. discussing at all points are helpful.
    * Vocabulary is learned best when it is taught within the context of a lesson. —- I don’t think that this is always true, you can learn vocab at all points, it’s just on how it is presented.
    * It is the job of all teachers to create lifeong readers. —-I do believe that this is true, when put into context. No, I am not going to be a reading teacher, but for my students to understand my content, I have to teach them how to read the content.
    * Textbooks provide adequate reading passages for students.—-I do not believe this to be true. I haven’t found a textbook yet that has been adequate.
    * Reading independently is a passive experience. —-If you are doing it properly, it is never passive.
    * Teaching reading strategies in the content areas will take away valuable teaching time. —-I think that teaching strategies does take away time, but it is time you would have lost elsewhere had you not taken it.
    * There are limited text resources to use in the content areas.—-Not true. There are as many as you look for. There is an abundance of reading material out there for any one content area, you just have to look.
    I have to say that my thinking didn’t change. I have the same thoughts now, that I had when we first looked at these in class.
    Again, thank you all for being such great classmates.

  7. As we have spent much time focusing on pre, during, and post reading strategies my thinking on the concept that “students should discuss their assigned readings only after they have had a chance to read it independently first” have surely changed. When we were first exposed to this concept I was not sure how to respond to this statement, as this could be a proven literacy technique that I was not aware of. However, as I have acquired what feels like close to one million reading strategies that contribute to the effectiveness of reading text I can certainly say that this statement is not one that I support. One of the most important things that I think I have taken away from this class also has to do with the statement regarding solid reading and writing skills at the middle school level, as everyone else seems to feel passionate about. I reacted similarly to Laurie with an “of course they should” attitude but through some of our activities realized that this is not the case and one of the worst things that can be done in literacy education is trying to teach at too advanced a level. I feel that by creating different combinations of pre, during, and post activities literacy improvement will occur and strike a passion for each and every student who is not at the level they “should” be at. With patience, determination, and a commitment to each activity at hand I think that this statement could become a reality.

  8. Looking back at the first anticipation guide, the one aspect I would change in my thinking is that
    .
    “Teaching reading strategies in the content areas will take away valuable teaching time.”
    .
    At first, I disagreed with the statement, thinking that teaching of strategies would help enhance reading and therefore help learning. However, I know this may be contrary to the course objectives; I’m not so certain this would be the case for all strategies. Some of the strategies that we learned are cumbersome and have a steep learning curve. Also, not knowing the effectiveness of some of these strategies, I am unable to perform a cost/benefit analysis to determine if the “ends justify the means”. I do agree with Stefanie as to the importance of reading in the content area, however, my concern is with the effectiveness of some of the strategies.
    .
    For example, the think aloud was a strategy that took a lot of work to develop and implement in the classroom. If the end result of this activity was a minimum increase in reading comprehension, then the time and effort would have been better spent on a more efficient strategy, method or combination of methods.
    .
    I, like Stefanie, Laurie and Aimee, also have taken a slightly different look at the first statement:
    .
    “All students should have solid reading and writing skills by the time they reach middle school.”
    .
    I still think students should have solid reading and writing skills, but now I realize that they may not. As Laurie stated, it is important to continue to foster reading and writing skills as students encounter higher level material. So, I still agree with my original response to the statement; however I now realize that even if students do have solid reading and writing skills, it does not release you, as a teacher, from your duties to develop the student’s reading skills.

  9. I have always felt that literacy is important and that I would want my students to read in science. Yet, similar to what Stefanie said, I also thought that I would be too limited by time to incorporate very much literacy into my science classroom. I mean, aside from bringing in copies of Discover magazine what I was supposed to do? I didn’t have a clue! However, being in this class for these past eight sessions has taught me that I can incorporate literacy into science, and that I should. Additionally, I now know how to incorporate literacy into my content without feeling limited by time or my curriculum. Literacy and science can go hand-in-hand. My feelings towards the statement that teaching reading strategies in the content areas will take away valuable teaching time has definitely deepened. I still disagree with the statement but now I disagree because I know that (for me) it just isn’t true.
    My initial reaction to whether all students should have solid reading and writing skills by the time they reach middle school was a resounding, “of course!” Much like Laurie and Stefanie stated I too have come to realize that many students, even in high school or college, lack solid reading and writing skills. It is not solely the responsibility of the elementary teachers or the parents to teach students literacy skills; it the responsibility of all teachers, no matter the grade level or the content area. Today I would have to say that I disagree with that statement. I now understand that literacy is indeed a continuous process that is not completed in the sixth grade.
    One other statement that I have changed my mind about after being in this class is that students should discuss their assigned readings only after they have had a chance to read it independently first. Originally I had agreed with this statement. My previous thinking was that you could only discuss something after you read it. Now I know that this is not true. There are many ways in which any reading or text can be discussed before, during, or after it is read. And reading for discussion does not have to be an individual process; it can incorporate partners, or even large groups!

  10. The first statement that I have changed my opinion on was the “it is the job of all teachers to create lifelong readers”. I originally put disagree because it is up to the student whether or not they will read for the rest of their lives. Now I believe that it is the job of all teachers to promote lifelong reading. I would have to say that I don’t think it is the job of all teachers to have to teach how to read (as in the basics) but they should provide reading sources, reading assignments, and different reading strategies to help all students with the content area. I think that for a teacher to completely ignore the benefit of reading within a content area would be horribly wrong. Each teacher should provide some sort of in class library and show students how beneficial recreational reading can be. Teachers should point out that reading does not have to be in chapter or text book form. It can be reading the newspaper, magazine articles, or even articles online. Therefore, lifelong readers can be readers of any one of those things or readers of 5 chapter books a month! The purpose of reading is to become informed, to strengthen understanding or knowledge, or for leisure and relaxation. It does not have to be a chore and I think that is the most important thing to be stressed. I used to never read during high school unless it was an English book that was assigned. Now I find that I constantly read textbooks for class but also take a lot of time to read news on the internet or magazine articles online from Discover magazine. I actually find time (occasionally) to read books for my own enjoyment.
    ……………………………………………………………………………………………..
    The second statement that I have changed (to a certain extent) is the statement “Textbooks provide adequate reading passages”. For that statement I put an “X” in the middle. I believed that some units in textbooks could be written well while others may lack important information. It seems that most textbooks have a mix of both good and bad and that it is hard to find one good one that covers everything completely. Now, I have to agree with Sarah about textbooks. I would have to say “yes” they do provide adequate reading passages, however, you cannot rely solely on the textbook as the only source for students. According to dictionary.com, adequate is “barely sufficient or suitable”. So, yes, a textbook does cover the material but not always in the most suitable way. Like Sarah said, “The most important thing for me to remember is that textbooks can be a good source of reading passages along with supplemental reading to add to our students learning.” I believe that supplemental material is absolutely necessary!! The additional materials can be at easier reading levels and be more interesting! Also, textbooks should NOT be used for the end of chapter questions or review!!!!!!!! I think that the questions do not challenge students at all since the answers are word for word from the book. Most of us do not want to “teach” to the test, but I also think we should not “teach” from the textbook. It is meant only as one resource in a plethora of others. And while in some cases it may be the best resource, it should be remembered that there may be a better resource somewhere else and the time should be taken to find it.

  11. There have been many comments concerning “All students should have solid reading and writing skills by the time they reach middle school.” Aimee, Laurie, and Lee mention how this class has expanded our understanding of what a solid reader is. One concern I have is that the elementary school should be developing “solid” readers. Are we passing students on to the middle school before they are ready? I understand that hopefully all teachers are “creating lifeong readers”, but students need to accomplish A to get to B.
    I have to agree with Lee about the second bullet: “Students should discuss their assigned readings only after they have had a chance to read it independently first”. Initially I had answered “agree” to this. I now know that this is not the case. There are many great pre-reading strategies that can engage prior knowledge and activate the CORRECT prior knowledge.
    Lastly, I think we all agree that our knowledge has deepened about Item 6: “Reading independently is a passive experience.” I had no idea that there were so many ways to enhance understanding of textbooks and / or supplemental reading material.

  12. Much like Lee and Stephanie I feel that I have much strong convictions about the importance of literacy. I know I lacked strong literacy skills throughout my student years and despite that I was still able to do pretty well. However, I have spent many minutes thinking about how much more beneficial my schooling would have been if I had been given better literacy tools. This class has not only deepened my knowledge of this subject from a teacher’s perspective but it has also given my tools that I can use for my own reading and writing. I definitely feel that I am a more effective reader than I was before taking this class and I have learned strategies that I will use for the rest of my life.
    You might think that my opinion would change regarding the third statement on the list. Even after taking a whole semester about content area literacy and the important of good reading strategies I still believe that it is not the job of teachers to create life long readers. However, after taking this class I do believe it is the job of teacher to help student expand the reading capability and to provide students with useful tools that will help then be effective readers. As teachers we need to identify if students are having troubles in literacy and we must try and help them remedy these issues. To become lifelong readers is still a personal matter. Just because a student has the tools and knows how to use them doesn’t mean they will constantly have their nose in a book. But that’s okay.
    My opinion about textbooks has changed considerably. Much like Sarah I have never felt I had many textbooks that were of much use. Coming into this class I had the opinion that we could get along just fine without them. However, after doing the session about textbook feature analysis my opinion has been changed. I think textbooks can be useful as long as we are writing texts which help complement the reading strategies that we are giving our kids. Even old textbooks seem a little better know that I have some background knowledge of what to look for in a text and how to process the information. I will definitely incorporate this strategy in my teaching and I am glad that I’m better equipped to opine about any future texts that are proposed to me. Here is helpful article about this topic from the UK.

    I had a link put it doesn’t work.

  13. Good strategy users possess a large repertoire of strategies” (Pressley, Symons, et al.,1989).

    At the beginning of this course, I was an avid believer that all students should have solid reading and writing skills by the time they reach middle school. After teaching 5 years at the middle school level, I became frustrated to encounter the large amount of students without basic reading. I immediately pointed the finger the incompetent elementary schools. It became a task to even to differentiate instruction for these particular students and ultimately to educate them. I felt students should have basic literacy skills before they came to my class. Laurie commented on her confusion regarding student ideal level of prior literacy knowledge.
    However, after completing this course, I found my idealistic point of view to be ridiculous and faulty. Students should be taught literacy skills throughout their primary and secondary education, and the job should not be limited to just the ELA teachers. Helping students to develop literacy strategies can only build their confidence and skills in reading. Lee mentioned, his knowledge had expanded after completing this course on literacy. I think the idea of enlightening others about the importance of literacy in all content areas will increase our students’ academic achievement across the board. The effort should be collaborative across buildings, districts and content areas. All teachers should be mandated (or even want) to incorporate the “teaching” of literacy strategies into their content area, to ensure that our student/future can compete academically with our surrounding nations.
    I still feel that it is the job of all teachers to create lifelong readers. However, I don’t believe this job should be solely responsibility of the teacher; parents, community, and society should participate in fostering students learning/reading. Teachers in all content areas should be involved in giving our students the tools needed to become active and lifelong readers. I believe that our educational system has lost focus on the value of education. Students need not to learn information to satisfy testing, but to be able to take what they’ve learned and apply it to real-life situation. We can prepare students by supplying them with a repertoire of literacy strategies; useable in any content area.

    Strategies enable readers to elaborate, organize, and evaluate information contained in the text”
    (Paris et al 1991)

  14. The 8 statements on the anticipation guide… I would change 2 of my answers. This class has changed my mind from disagree to agree on the first question and from agree to disagree on number 7.

    I will be honest and say that my thoughts and comments from the first round of answering have not changed. I would answer all 8 of the questions/statements the exact same. But I agree with lee that this class has deepened my feelings about some of the statements. I still agree that students should have a solid reading and writing skills by the time they reach middle school. But I would like to modify the question to say “a strong foundation of reading and writing;” I think that at least the ground work needs to be in place. Hopefully the strategies that we have discussed in class have been modified or used with the students in younger grades to encourage them to read and be an active reader. Again with Kristin, Lee, Laurie and Aimee, the term “solid reader” need to be more clearly defined.

    This leads me into number 6, “reading independently is a passive experience.” I initially disagreed because I think that it needs to be an interactive process, and I knew enough that it didn’t sound true. In this class we have discussed many post reading activities that are conducted after reading independently. This means for the students to participate in these activities, the students have to take an active role in reading independently. To specifically make students be active, the think-aloud activity really makes students be active in their readings. They must dissect the passages, articles, etc.

    I am a little glad that this class hasn’t changed my mind and proven me wrong, thus adding to the fact that I am always right! But I am glad that I now have the knowledge to justify why I am correct and have strategies to encourage my students to be engaged readers.


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