Benefits, Challenges and Organization of Progress Monitoring

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18th May 2020 Teaching Reference this

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What is progress monitoring? How might a teacher organize their progress monitoring? What are some benefits and challenges associated with progress monitoring?

The purpose of progress monitoring is to assess student performance/ progress in targeted areas (e.g., reading, math, and social behavior). It helps guide an effective intervention program to maximize student success (Dexter and Hughes). A teacher needs to keep accurate updated records of student assessments and meet regularly with colleagues to plan for whole group, small-group, and individual intervention. Time needs to be set aside as a priority for intervention and to analyze student needs /types of instruction. Progress monitoring helps students meet grade-level expectations as it focuses on individual students and their response to instruction (Morin). Thus, a major benefit is the high student success rate through a carefully planned, research-based instructional format. Fewer students need remedial, special education, or repetition of a grade. The challenges include the time involved to organize and implement progress monitoring with its emphasis on assessment and flexibility of instruction. In addition, all teachers must stay abreast of current best practices and work together as a grade level/ building team which they may not be accustomed to.

Imagine reading a big book to a small group of beginning readers. What strategies might help them develop phonemic awareness?

Beginning readers can develop phonemic awareness through big books. For example, a teacher reads the book out loud and pauses at different words. The class thinks of words that rhyme with the targeted words. This activity helps students hear, identify, and manipulate individual sounds-phonemes in spoken words (Matters). A similar activity is to have the students sit in a circle and each child says a rhyming word to the targeted word from the story. When the rhymes are exhausted, the teacher continues reading and pauses at a new word and repeats the activity. The teacher can also ask the students what items in the room start, end, or are in the middle like the sound they hear in the given word. Clapping for each sound they hear in a word from the book is another strategy. It is best not to confuse visually looking at print with phonemic awareness, an important foundational step in learning to read. As Jeannie Partin reminds us, “The ability to listen closely is a key ingredient of phonemic awareness.”

What kinds of approaches might teachers use to teach phonics and spelling? Which of these approaches are most effective and why?

If children learn to spell words based on phonemic processing, it greatly improves their spelling ability (Gagen). Children benefit from phonics instruction with context and in the context of oral reading and writing activities (Alison). The instruction needs to be systematic (teaching letter sounds from easy to more complex and also instruction in word patterns). Approximately 85% of English words follow consistent sound-spelling patterns (Blevins). Phonics and spelling instruction should also be differentiated and match the levels of the students. Review and repetition are necessary to maintain and build upon the skills learned. Focusing on word patterns and common features is helpful to build generalization of spelling rather than just memorization of random words or phonetic patterns. However, you should directly teach the ‘irregular’ words and ‘unexpected’ patterns. A wide variety of multisensory activities can help increase memory, interest, and fun in learning. Using magnetic letters, color-coding, finger paint, sand, play dough, mnemonics, pictures for memory clues, songs, and finding words within words are some of these activities.

What are some examples of pre-reading, reading, and post-reading activities teachers might use to develop students’ comprehension? Which of these activities are most effective and why? 

As for pre-reading activities to boost comprehension, one important strategy is to establish a purpose to read the specific text. Then, the instruction of 7-10 pertinent vocabulary words, phrases, or concepts can be taught followed by students predicting what the story is about based on the title and pictures and then providing some prior knowledge if needed about the story topic/events, etc. (Bright Hub Education). All of these pre-reading strategies will help students better comprehend the text. During reading, the teacher can ask questions to keep students on track, require students to make inferences, ask students to summarize key parts, check their predictions, make connections between different text ideas, sequence different events, and visualize key characters/ settings / events in the text. Again, these are all proven best practices that help build comprehension (Texas Education Agency).  After reading, the students can discuss the text, tell the important parts, offer a reading response in some way, apply the ideas from this text to their real-life situations, etc.

What is the least effective way to teach vocabulary and why? What is the most effective way to teach vocabulary and why?

The most effective way to teach vocabulary is to use context clues and provide multiple ways to use the word(s) in written/ spoken form (Alber). The teacher teaches the vocabulary within sentences or reading passages and then the teacher and students discuss the words associating them with antonyms, synonyms, roots, etc. This method of teaching vocabulary encourages critical thinking skills and helps students make connections to the words, ultimately helping them to remember their meaning (Flocabulary.com). Children can readily see how the words are used, and therefore, there is a deeper understanding of word meanings which impact long-term memory. On the other hand, reading research reports that the least effective way to learn vocabulary is to have students memorize a list of words and their meanings in isolation of text (K12 Reader). It is more difficult for students to grasp the meaning of a word when there is no application of the word and, in turn, it is easy for them to forget what the targeted words mean. The retention rate is quite low.

At what point in the writing process is modeling an essential strategy and why? How could teachers model this part of the writing process for students?

According to K5 Chalkbox, modeling is an essential strategy in the first stage of writing as teaching good writing is a gradual release from teacher-directed writing to student independent writing. Students need to see how writing is done first. Cutler states it simply, “No matter what you teach, write in front of the students. Share your thought processes along the way.” By modeling, the student is more apt to be successful in the subsequent stages of writing: shared writing, guided writing, and independent writing. Teachers can model writing through various approaches. These include a think-aloud about strategies used, a problem-solving approach, and targeting a specific element/ concept/ skill of the language for instruction (K5 Chalkbox). For example, you might say, “Today I want to write about what happened during my summer vacation. I need to make a web to organize my thoughts. Then I can take these detailed ideas, organize them, and then write sentences.” The students can see how the writing process works and they can then practice what they see.

According to best practices in reading education, what are the best ways to use oral reading skills to enhance student learning? List several ideas for using oral reading in the classroom instead of the Round Robin technique. Why are these ideas more effective than the Round Robin technique?

Teaching reading with an emphasis on oral reading skills helps students to read connected text quickly, accurately, and with expression. They become fluent, confident readers. So, the best ways to use oral reading skills to enhance student learning are to frequently have students read out loud with reading material matched to their instructional reading level to build speed, accuracy, and proper expression (Rasplica & Cummings).The Council of Learning Disabilities suggests alternatives for the traditional Round Robin technique of oral reading: repeated readings, peer-assisted learning strategies, tape-assisted reading, and slide and guide (the teacher reads part of a sentence and the student finishes the sentence). These ideas are more effective than the Round Robin technique as they are supported by current research for best practices for oral reading skills, the students have a quality reading experience, the reading instruction is differentiated for each student’s needs and abilities, these approaches help build fluency, and all of the strategies are updated (Susan).

How do you define reading? What are some reasons why students might have difficulties with reading? What can teachers do to help students with reading challenges? 

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Reading is a cognitive process involving decoding symbols to construct meaning (Sandhu). Struggling readers may have limited experience with books and language experiences from birth onward, speech and hearing problems, and poor phonemic awareness (Lyon). Educators can help stimulate reading development by frequently reading out loud, having a language-rich environment (age-appropriate vocabulary and language comprehension skills and exposure to language structure (Amy). More specifically, teachers can analyze the difficulties a child has in reading and target those areas (e.g., if trouble sounding out letters, review the alphabet sounds and basic phonemes and blends). If trouble reading whole words, use rhyming words to show word patterns and how to chunk parts of words. If disinterested in reading, provide great reading material, limit screen time, and set a reading time each day. If comprehension is weak, ask questions along the way and have students summarize parts of the story. And if their reading is choppy, read along with them to build fluency. Always be patient and continue to encourage.

         Amy (n.d.). How to Teach Reading Skills to Struggling Readers – Help for Desperate Parents & a List of Reading Strategies for Struggling Readers! (Tips: How to Teach a Struggling Reader). My Three Readers. Retrieved from https://mythreereaders.com/how-to-teach-reading/how-to-teach-reading-skills-struggling-readers/    

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