ACTION RESEARCH - READING
Focus/primary goal for my action plan:
One of the greatest challenges I face as an educator is not teaching the material related to my career field of art and design, but the simple fact that my students either can’t read to their education level or aren’t interested in the material enough to read it. I’ve been involved in the Technical Assistance Program, or TAP at my school and the main focus of the program is to help strengthen the students’ math and reading abilities. In my opinion, if a student can’t read, they can’t do the other tasks that they’re expected to do like learning a trade or doing simple math questions.
The focus of my assignment is to simply get my students more interested in reading. They need to understand that reading is a part of everyday life and doesn’t stop after graduation. A lot of people feel that technology has hurt reading, but I believe the opposite. I feel that it makes it more accessible and entertaining to read a book online, on your smartphone and on a tablet. With this in mind, I started a reading initiative with my students to get them to read “by any means necessary”. I began a program this year where the students are expected to read 15 books by the end of the year. For those that meet the goal, they will be treated to a night out to dinner at a restaurant. During the contest, they will be required to read every week and write a paragraph on what they read during that time on our class blog. This will hopefully get the students to read and write more, while the rest of the class can read the reviews and maybe encourage them to read the books their classmates chose. At the end of the semester, I will collect the data (blog entries, reviews, and an exit survey) from my students as to what they read, and how much, and report my findings to see if they took an active role in the initiative.
I. What do I know about my students’ abilities?
Every new student that enters our program takes a reading assessment given by our Reading Specialist, Kathy Slattery. The assessment is a collection of random paragraph stories and/or articles and has multiple-choice questions to follow that ask about the content of the story they just read. The assessments are graded and handed to us within the first month of school. The scores come back showing the students grade reading level. For example, a 10th-grade student may have a 12th-grade reading level.
We also do informal survey discussions with the students to see what they're interested ids in reading and whether it’s important to them or not to be a competent reader. Sadly, most of the students don’t read unless it’s a required text. They read plenty of content online in the forms of social Media or Blogs, but don’t take an interest in reading books. E-readers and books in PDF format do help, but the majority of students feel reading is outdated and unnecessary.
With the collected results, I was alarmed to see that my students’ reading levels were below their grade level. It seems that I had two groups; one small group that had above grade reading levels, and the larger group of students that were 3-5 reading levels below their grade. Many of my students that are below level are the ones that aren’t interested in reading because it’s difficult for them, and the only books the students have read are books for class that they’re instructed to read.
II. What do I want for my students?
Hopefully, starting a reading program where the student can read what they choose, it may spark their interest to read more and actually enjoy it. My goal is to increase the students’ motivation in reading and to increase their grade reading level by one grade by the end of the year. The students will take the same reading assessment from the beginning of the year and I will base my success upon that.
III. How do I help my students achieve these goals?
To help me achieve this, I started an online book club with my class with the goal being the student reads 10 books by the end of the school year. If the student achieves this goal, I will use our student funds to take the students that met this challenge to dinner at a local restaurant. Also, our reading specialist will be available to help the students with their reading and offer help to select reading material the students might enjoy. She has a small collection of books in her room and even has order forms for discounted popular titled books for them to choose from. I will also give students time during the school year to read in class when they are caught up in their daily work.
IV. How do I know my students are getting it?
I created online forms for the student to fill out on a weekly basis where they write a review based on the number of pages they’ve read for that week on the book they’re reading. I also have a web page for each student to post their reviews showing all of the books they’ve read. This may also encourage other students to read their classmates reviews and read those books also. I’ll go through the reviews every week and post them to the students’ individual pages (see support materials) along with a clipart picture of the book from Amazon.com.
I will also initiate conversation during class on the books the students have read and ask them to discuss their review with the class and whether or not they enjoyed what they read. This helps keep the club on track since it’s easy for students to forget that it’s online. I will also use the reading assessment to e given at the end of the year to see if their grade reading level improved during the process.
V. How do I reflect on my students’ abilities?
At the end of the book club, I will collect all of the data from the online reviews and be reading assessments to see how successful my goal was. So far, it seems to be taking off fairly well, but my below grade reading level students are still very resistant, even with the student having the option to pick their own reading material. I have been going through the students’ weekly reports and reading them while also checking for proper spelling and grammar. This also helps the students write a standard paragraph properly. Depending on the results of the students’ participation, I may lower the number of books that need to be read and offer a bonus for those that go over the suggested amount. Maybe 10 books is an unrealistic number and may scare some students off. Only time will tell. I will also look at the student assessment scores from both the beginning and end of the year to see if there is an increase in the students’ grade reading level. I may also look into giving the students time during the school year for the students that want extra help from our Reading Specialist to go over during class and receive help.
I am encouraged with the response that I’ve gotten so far, and with regular monitoring of their progress throughout the year, I am confident that my students will begin to appreciate the importance and fun they can have with reading.