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ERIC Number: ED478828
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2003-May
Pages: 116
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Improving Student Literacy.
Mackh, Sarah J.
The students of the targeted sixth grade class exhibited low standardized test scores in reading. Despite many efforts, this problem reached a crisis point in the fall of 2001, when the school as a whole placed at the bottom of the district on the state standards test, which was taken by this group of students in the spring of their fifth-grade year. In addition to these state test scores, evidence for the problem included other standardized test scores, Accelerated Reader Star Test results, and attitude surveys conducted by the classroom teacher. A review of the literature revealed that the probable cause for these declining test scores might lie in the methods of instruction that had been used with these children over their previous five years in school. There has been a great deal of debate between instructional methods with repeated pendulum swings between phonics instruction and whole language, both of which leave some children with deficits in their learning. All children do not learn in the same way; yet school districts have persisted in looking for a one-size-fits-all approach to instruction that has inevitably failed to meet expectations. Solutions to this problem pointed in the direction of a balanced approach to literacy instruction. This methodology explicitly teaches the skills inherent in phonics, while preserving the high interest and motivation found in whole language. In the best scenarios, four approaches to learning are combined in a balanced way: teacher directed reading instruction, self-selected reading, word skills instruction, and writing. The intervention in the classroom incorporated these four ways of teaching students to be literate as part of a school-wide adoption of the Four Blocks of Literacy model of instruction. It focused more narrowly on the potential benefit of weekly reading conferences and the opportunities these afforded for individualizing the student's reading instruction and improving the student's motivation through guiding and supporting the choice of quality reading material. The intervention recorded improvement in students' reading levels, along with other insights into reading instruction. Appendixes contain a student survey instrument, a self-selected reading conference record, quotes from Louisa May Alcott's "Little Men," data and survey results, a 6-item annotated bibliography of novels used in the project, permission letters, a cloze test based on chapter 1 of "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," and results of the cloze test. (Contains 52 references and 11 tables of data.) (Author/RS)
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A