Chapter Thirteen Thoughts

In chapter thirteen of Gunning’s book he discusses a variety of ways to build writing strategies.  Poor spellers and illegible handwriting are some traits that many low achieving readers have. This in the long run is why some low achieving readers find writing even more difficult than reading.  I think that journals for the students are a great idea. The fieldwork site I am at gives the students’ two journals, one for play and the other for assigned free writes. I believe free writes are a great way to begin a unit and to figure out what the students may already know, or what they would like to know.  But of course you are always going to have that reluctant writer in the class. Gunning shared some great tips on how to get the reluctant reader motivated.  There are three kinds of writing that are especially effective for helping students overcome their reluctance to engage in composing are writing aloud, written conversation and journal writing.  Writing aloud is a great way to get the class actively engaged in writing. The teacher can ask students to help spell a word or ask what kind of punctuation mark is needed at the end of a sentence. This task can be done individually or as a group. Written conversation is a writing improvement technique in which a teacher and student talk to each other on paper.  This technique seems to be age appropriate for the higher elementary school grades; I do not see myself sitting next to a first grader writing out a conversation.  But I really like this idea to get the students engaged. This is more of a one on one technique. The last motivation that Gunning shared is the journals. Journal writings allow students to respond to their world in a personal way. The journals should be recorded in daily with events, thoughts, ideas, or feelings. Writing in journals helps students’ realize which events are worth writing about. Journals’ writing promotes fluency and exploration.

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Chapter Twelve Thoughts

Chapter twelve of Gunning’s book is titled Reading to Learn and Remember in the Content Areas.  In this section of the book he talks about how students fail to transfer general skills and strategies they may know to specific areas.  As a undergrad who has taking a handful of science and math classes to complete my major can relate to this topic. I can read a chapter book with no hesitation from front cover to back cover in a day if it’s a book I am in to. Then in my ecology class we were asked to read the EPA report on second hand smoke, this was horrible.  I had to read slower, use a dictionary, and keep notes to help comprehend this ridiculous report. The thing that helped me the most was the background knowledge on some of the words you saw in bigger words.  If I understood the root word, I would assume it had something to do with it.  A low achieving reader would have struggled in this science class with all the scientific journals we read.  Reading should be addressed in all content areas. Each content area has some sort of text that the students use.  Some students have a difficult time transferring what they already know to the subject or content area. This causes content teachers to summarize the information when they see their students not getting anything from the text, they teach around the text.   As the teacher summarizes the main points because they do not want their students to miss them, the teacher becomes an enabler.  “Students should bring to the content areas are background of relevant knowledge, ability to reason, understanding of language and ability to communicate.” Student’s vocabulary background is a key component in understanding material from different content areas.

To help students in my class room I am going to relate to the framework for teaching content area reading. A convenient way to look at a content area reading lesson is to view is within the framework of a directed reading activity. A content area reading lesson is basically an adaption of the directed reading activity of directed reading-thinking activity. Implemented within the context of Content Enhancements it includes establishing key ideas, preparation for reading, guided reading, rereading, extension, application and monitoring of students progress.

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Chapter Eleven Thoughts

In chapter eleven of Gunning’s book he talks about techniques that will help build comprehension skills in low achieving readers.  Comprehension is one of the main reasons why students struggle with reading and writing. When you don’t know a word you do not know how or where to use it in a sentence. The definition of comprehension is the act or action of grasping with the intellect: Understanding. When a student does not understand a word and its meaning the word is useless to the student.

In the last few chapters Gunning has used some anticipation statements that have pushed some buttons. Number four in this chapter says “the fastest way to improve comprehension is to use challenging materials.”  I agree with this statement but strongly disagree with it. Yes, using tougher material would be the fasted way to attempt to improve comprehension skills. I fell like the only thing this is doing is making students slow down when they are reading, I would encourage students to use a dictionary for the words they do not completely understand.  But using tougher material can and will discourage some low achieving readers from attempting the task at hand.  I have no doubt in my mind that this will discourage struggling readers and they will refuse to complete the task. Coming from someone who struggles myself with comprehension it is hard for me to even begin a task if the material is tough. I have the mine set ” I can’t understand it.. so why try it”. In the previous chapter Gunning said that comprehension skills were low because of the vocabulary background of the student is low. Building a Child’s vocabulary can and will help with a student’s struggling compression. Once the students learn how to comprehend they should be able to figure out the main ideas of reading handed out to them.  Understanding main ideas is partly developmental and can be built up on over the years of reading. With practice you will be able to find the main ideas faster and have a complete understanding of them.

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Chapter Ten Thoughts

In the previous chapter Gunning discussed the four key strategies for learning new words; they are syllabic, morphemic, contextual analysis and dictionary usage. In chapter ten of his book he touches on principles and techniques for teaching new works and strategies for remembering words. Like every chapter in his book he starts it off with an anticipation guide or a series of questions to get your mind thinking about these statements that arise but no one has the correct answer too.  The first one on the list is “Having a limited vocabulary is a major cause of poor comprehension.” I completely agree with this statement. Students who are low achieving readers are proven to have low vocabulary skills. I believe that a teacher trying to improve comprehension skills in the class room should really focus in on vocabulary. Take time to explain words to the class room and what they mean. Not just how to say it. I feel like this can be done by showing students how to use a dictionary and having a class set in the class room for the students to use at anytime. Building vocabulary is a great thing to do and should be done the right way. Another question that jumped out at me in the anticipation guide was number five. “A certain amount of time should be set aside each day for vocabulary instruction.” I disagree with this statement. As humans living in a world that uses words to communicate with others vocabulary is a very important key part. Understanding that vocabulary is all around us and a big part of the life I will encourage students to bring in words they encounter. Especially to the words the students are learning and coming across in science, social studies and the other content areas. Reinforcing these in many contexts will help the students understand and recognize new words. Over all students will be building their vocabulary skills and developing stronger comprehension skills.

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Chapter Nine Thoughts

In chapter nine of Gunning’s book he discusses ways to help readers with muiti-syllable words they do not know with techniques like syllabic, morphemic, and contextual analysis along with dictionary strategies.  All these techniques are great, I feel like they all can be beneficial to the students. But the trick to using them is to try to figure out which one to use with that individual student. All students learn differently and as their teacher you should be able to observe and figure this out.

As students progress through their schooling they begin to start leaning phonics and recognizing single-syllable words. I feel like one of the most important thing students pick up on when they are reading is a sense of which letters occur together and patterns in works.  This book refers to this as syllable boundaries.  On the other hand, students who do not read well or very little may have a trouble establishing syllabic boundaries because orthographic awareness level is low and weak.

There are many students that develop normal or average phonics knowledge but have trouble applying it multisyllabic words.  Carmen is a student the book used, and she learned her phonics lessons well, she is able to read virtually all of the single-syllable words. When it came to multi-syllable words she was able to recognize a few but not most of them. This is when I would introduce the dictionary to some students as a teacher. In a dictionary the words are broke up in there syllables and makes it easier to see clues to figure out the word.  It  also gives meaning for the words. The book says “if the word is not crucial to an understanding of the selection, the reader should skip it. The dictionary should be consulted only when the unknown word is essential to the meaning of the passage”. I do not completely believe in this, I am one of those people that still use a dictionary when reading myself. Granit my words may be a little harder while reading a scientific journal but the words in the selection I am looking up are put there for a reason and it’s hard to determine if it’s essential if you do not know what it is.  Skipping words are not going to help you in the long run, you may run into them again. When introducing kids to a dictionary be sure to show them how it is set up. Most kids know alphabetical order by first grade.

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Chapter Eight Thoughts

In chapter eight of the Gunning’s book was a difficult chapter to get though. This chapter is full of interesting and heavy information that gives you a closer look at teaching phonics, Fluency and High-Frequency words. These are some strong key concepts that build a successful reader. Unfortunately, a large number of students have difficulty learning phonics, letter and sound relationships that enables them to translate printed symbols into meaningful language.  This goes for enunciation too, most students who struggle with spelling have enunciation problems. One of my little cousins had this problem; he would say the word before writing it. You are going to spell it the way you say it. He had trouble with a few words but the one that I remember the most was (ga)+(are)+(Bich)+(can)= garbage can.  After a while we noticed that it was the words with a (ch) in them that he was struggling with.  My aunt and uncle had asked us to be very clear with our word around him. They were working with him one on one to correct it, which eventually worked, but I do not think it would have worked if she didn’t ask us to help. My little cousin was always around they lived two houses down. Another thing that my aunt asked us to do was to play jump rope or hand games with him using “fluency tongue twisters” like Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. A peck of pickled peppers, Peter Piper picked. If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, then where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked? And” How much wood would a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood? He would chuck what a woodchuck could chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood. To Joel, my little cousin this was just a game, not a training technique used to fix his phonics, which improved his spelling and reading.

There are many strategies talked about throughout this chapter, As a future educator it is my job to gather and use them with the students that need them. This all leads back to “how well you know your students”. The better you know your class the better you will be able to serve and provide to them. For example maybe a moving game like we did with my little cousin for a kinesthetic learner.

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Chapter Seven Thoughts

In this chapter Gunning’s discusses Emergent literacy and prevention programs. Emergent literacy is reading and writing concerns and behaviors of young children. In reading these behaviors can vary from skimming through picture books to reading a repeated phrase. In writing these behaviors can vary from drawing or scribbling to composing a message in invented or conventional spelling. Emergent literacy helps show and recognize that all students who go to school have some knowledge of and experience with reading. As a soon to be teacher it is key to remember that all my students will have a different reading and writing skill levels. It’s crazy to think that they there will be children that have never held a book or a pencil in my classroom. I feel like that is a natural process of growing up. I can remember getting yelled at for writing my ABC’s on the wall, and sitting next to my aunt to copy her letters and small words. As a babysitter of two wonderful kids, I can say that I have had them practice their handwriting and reading when I have them. Another reason why I cannot believe this is through my nine years of babysitting I can tell you we do a lot of writing and reading. Every time the kids seen me doing homework, they needed to help. I have a whole notebook dedicated to them. So why is it that there are people not teaching their kids to read and write. I still cannot wrap my head around this…

I really liked the study in this chapter that used a group of five years old from improvised backgrounds and compared them to four year olds who came from enriched backgrounds. Through this study they were able to compare that both groups had approximately the same level of literacy development. To me this study is just one of many that smashed my theory of home life having an effect on the developing minds of students.   They say at this young age kids are sponges, they will take in whatever you tell them, so you have to think that the enriched background kids were spoon feed knowledge, and the improvised background kids had to search for the answers and hope something falls in to their laps. Either way at the end of the study there was no significant results to say that the enriched background four year olds had a higher literacy development then the group of improvised background of five year olds.

Prevention programs are great, but one way of preventing a reading problem it so start in preschool by developing children’s language and preliterate skills at a preschool level.  As a early elementary teacher I will be sure to locate students in my class room to make sure they get the right help for their reading problems.

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