Monday, November 10, 2014

Targeting adolescents' literacy skills using one-to-one instrruction

My search for research related to fluency turned up an interesting article by Timothy T. Houge, Constance Geier and David Peyton titled Targeting adolescents' literacy skills using one-to-one instruction with research-based practices from the May 2008 edition of the Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy. They begin wondering if schools can obtain the success of one-to-one tutoring clinics and what are the aspects of such settings that contribute to success. They assert that adolescent literacy deficiencies can be addressed at if "systematic fluency, vocabulary and comprehension" (p 640) instruction are utilized. Further, they highlight the importance of three components of tutoring programs that contribute to success: a well trained coordinator who supervises, trains and intervenes as necessary; planning and structure of lessons; and training of tutors.

Interestingly they neglect to examine the impact of the extra time component of tutoring programs and the intensive nature of such successful programs. When we provide reading interventions it is rarely one-to-one in a school. Usually it involves small groups. We often find the time either very limited or contaminated by a need for support in other areas; reading is not the sole focus. We find the tutoring programs often not only include on-site work, they also include homework, a factor that many struggling readers are reluctant to participate in. They also fail to recognize the difference between someone attending a tutoring session afterschool, at the parent's general inconvenience and the increased motivation this entails when compared with the general population at school. While the analyzed components are necessary to literacy improvement in a school setting, we also need to consider these factors.

I found it interesting that the authors note the importance of using contemporary young adult literature as essential for "engagement, influencing comprehension and reading achievement" (p. 648). When I use Wilson with my students, they tend to find it boring and babyish. As a result I am forced to look outside the program to literature to obtain engagement. Although the decoding skills are critical for improving some of their skills, they need it balanced with reading material that they find of interest. Articles from, books from Orca publishing, low reading level textbooks and picture books have all made it into my instruction. I find such inclusion critical to developing the required engagement for learning.

The article does provide a nice sample lesson plan that incorporates the following components:
plan component
how I will implement
reading for fluency/comprehension questions from the book ___________________
 (5-8 min.)
- Read a selected limited word count 3 times with instruction in elements of fluency as needed
-retell homework reading
-comprehension questions on homework reading
20 min.
phonetic instruction: (list topic)
practice word work on a particular phonetic concept
sentence dictation
Write 3 sentences, make corrections, read back
guided oral reading with the book _______________ [same as above] (20 min.)
read and ask comprehension and vocabulary questions
writing exercise (10 min.)
write a response to a question, read back, make corrections
Adult read aloud form a different text (5 min.)
student listens and answers comprehension questions- model fluency and interaction with the text

I highlighted the areas of literacy instruction that each component addresses.

An important piece of this instruction is that the plan is completed with all the questions the teacher will ask spelled out. This level of thought enables the creation of not just literal questions, but of deeper, higher level questions and for data collecting. This particular chart would make a good lesson plan guideline when working in a one-to-one setting. When working with a mixed ability group, this plan would be less helpful, but could be adapted. This plan is clearly designed for the student with broad-based reading deficiencies. If a student needed more support in a particular area, the plan would need to be modified to provide for such focus.

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