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Reading: Challenges and Opportunities Part 1 of 4

Maria loved books, every day at free reading time she would quickly settle in with her book box and begin reading. Maria’s reading fluency scores were on target, but when it came time for Maria to take a reading comprehension test, her scores did not match her enthusiasm for reading. Rico read every Ranger Rick magazine and animal book in the library over the course of the year. Rico’s weekly homework reading log was always completed well. Rico worked hard in all areas of class, but his Reading Comprehension scores were also below grade level. Both of these students loved reading, but they did not comprehend what they were reading well enough to perform at grade level. Then there are students whose challenge with reading is more obvious, like Theresa. Theresa had difficulty settling on a book to read, within minutes of sitting down with her book box, she would be up, perusing the classroom library, looking for something different to read. Theresa’s scores for both fluency and reading comprehension were below grade level.   The area of concern that I wanted to address in my classroom was reading comprehension. I wanted my students reading at grade level and I wanted their comprehension scores to match their love of learning, reading and books. In order to address this area of concern, I brainstormed with my grade level colleagues to consider causes of the deficits in my students’ comprehension. Here are some of the challenges we identified: almost all of our students begin Kindergarten as beginning English Language Learners, they come from homes with low socio-economic status and most of their parents have not finished high school. In my next post I will write more about how these challenges create gaps in student learning. We also brainstormed internal resources our students and families possess that they can draw on to increase success in school and life. These internal resources include: Family pride and loyalty, love of learning, and the ability to persist in the face of challenges. Taking into account both student challenges and internal resources, we began to brainstorm what we could do to close gaps in student learning, and also how we could help students identify and use their internal resources to take charge of their own learning.   In my next post, I will examine the challenges and internal resources of my students, and explain how our grade level PLC team chose to address those challenges and support students to recognize and use their own internal resources.

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