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Teachers Network Leadership Institute:
Wyoming Teacher Policy Institute
Debra Meredith, Lincoln Elementary, Riverton, WY
Research question:
How will the teaching of specific strategies for reading and working with nonfiction literature affect the reading achievement of boys in the classroom?

I have been collecting data all year on the literature choices of students and have come up with some interesting observations. The boys have not necessarily been choosing primarily nonfiction. With the release of the movies Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and the Lord of the Rings, there has been a major upsurge in the interest of boys with fiction. Some weeks the boys will choose more nonfiction than fiction, but the girls have never chosen more nonfiction than the boys.

This leads me to wonder if my research question isn’t too narrow. Should I change it to query about the reading achievement of all students? I’m also toying with including writing implications, as I’ve seen how much it affects their writing skills as well. I’m afraid that including writing would make it unmanageable though, and like everyone else I am already struggling with the time constraints of all the curriculum work I have to do for the district, the after school programs I teach, maintaining a well-organized classroom, and trying to learn and teach Spanish at once. I’m not yet sure what to do, so any input would be appreciated.
I have also been documenting progress in reading using the DRA assessment, which measures the accuracy rate, self-correction rate, comprehension of a passage, and fluency. I have beginning of the year scores on every child in my classroom, and am working on the semester scores for each child. This is time-intensive as it takes about 45-60 minutes to assess each child but the information is well worth it as it provides a basis for guiding my instruction.

As for the strategies that we have been using to work with nonfiction, I am using the suggestions of Stephanie Harvey (Strategies That Work and Nonfiction Matters) and Linda Hoyt (Read, Remember, Retell and Snapshots); all are incredible resources for any interested teachers. We are using word sorts, very important points, marking text with sticky notes (you wouldn’t believe how many we go through), alphaboxes, retelling, paraphrasing using word sorts, red-hot research, questioning for clarification, etc. The growth I have seen in my students is great, and we will hopefully be putting a bunch of these strategies together in a full-blown research project this spring. My third graders are excited about their work and are learning life-long skills for reading content area text.

 

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