Saturday, November 14, 2009

Reading Strategies

There have been three reading strategies that I have seen been used pretty often during my course of observations. The first reading strategy that I have seen is the SFA model called Success for All. This is a direct-instruction model where teachers have small groups of students and they try to improve the child’s reading level through a lot of direct student and teacher interaction. My particular class only has 6 students in it and they are at grade 4 level. The class is definitely mixed with 7th and 8th grader, with a few elementary children who are in grade 5. This happens every day for about 45 minutes. In the 45 minutes, they read a story, pull words out of the story, learn how to spell and define them, and then they are tested after six weeks to see if they have made any progress in their reading skills. The teacher uses different teaching strategies to get them to learn how to read with comprehension better, but it is left up to them ultimately for them to be able to move up to the higher classes.

The second reading strategy I have seen being used is the outlining technique, choral rehearsal and read-a-loud. These techniques are used with all of the classes no matter if they are the top performing group of students or if they are the 504 accommodations. The teacher seems to figure out that these three strategies can help the student retain the information and better perform on the ILEAP exam. The teacher is very convinced that these strategies work, however, as much of a direct-instruction teacher she is, I am not that kind of teacher. I am more constructivists and I think that these students need to be exposed to understanding different learning skills. How much I think that these students do need that direct instruction, they also need to be able to construct their own ideas of getting new information. They are about to enter into high school and this kind of critical thinking is needed once they enter into the 9th grade. I believe that since these students do not get that opportunity, they will become complacent and think that everything will be handed to them. This is not the case, however, it will happen and this ultimately hurts the child. While these are good strategies, there has to be more.

As I have started thinking about what kind of reading strategies I would want to see middle school children do would be those reading strategies that fit under the information-processing category. I would want students to start using outlines and other type of graphic organizers that will help them better understand the information instead of using such a behaviorist approach to their learning. The teacher has the students do the outlining, which is information processing, but it is not independent. She directly guides them through every question. Most of the time they are just answering questions, not necessarily putting the information in an outline format; it is just questions 1, 2, 3. When it comes to middle school children, they have come from a complete behaviorist approach to learning and have to learn how to transition to information-processing so that they can reach the top level of cognitive learning by using their higher order thinking skills. I am also biased to this position because I believe that high school students should be on a strict cognitive approach to learning and be exposed to less and less of information-processing and behaviorist methods. However, the other two methods would still be used, but only on a as needed basis.

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