Today I met my student, who I will call Zaniyah for this blog to maintain her privacy. We had a great time and the half hour flew by. Zaniyah is a second grader, and right away when I met her she seemed bright, and open to whatever it was that I had planned for her. I felt a bit unprepared, but all went well! I started by introducing myself and telling her my favorite animal (a penguin, of course, so I gave her a happy feet sticker. I just happened to have those on hand ). I asked her a little about herself, and then we began testing with an interest inventory. She loved answering questions, so this was easy. From the interest inventory and my early conversation with Zaniyah, I knew that she liked animals and art, and was fairly enthusiastic about reading as well. She struggled a little to think of books that she had recently read, so I knew that reading wasn’t her passion (at least not yet!) but she still considers herself a good reader. My favorite fact from the Interest Inventory: she has a pet hamster named Justin, and her favorite TV show is about Big Foot. Who could have guessed?!
After the interest inventory, I asked Zaniyah to read a leveled reader book entitled The Mailman’s Hat (level K) while I took notes on a running record/miscue analysis. She read it fairly quickly, going smoothly from word to word except when she encountered words she didn’t know. She didn’t respond to punctuation well, either, often ignoring periods and commas to continue conquering the words on the page. Although she didn’t mind the reading, I could tell that she was motivated to finish the book so that she could stop focusing so hard on sounding out unfamiliar words. This brings me to my next topic: what she did when she encountered unfamiliar words. Zaniyah admitted to me later in the Burke Reading interview that when she sees a word she doesn’t know, her instinct is to skip over it. If she doesn’t skip it, she relies on phonics primarily to sound it out. The running record confirmed this, as she used phonics to get through the word “chase” initially mispronouncing it “chass (rhymes with mass)” but later sounding it out and correcting herself to say “chase.” Sometimes she relied on meaning (semantics) instead of phonics, however, substituting “house” for “homes” and “mailbox” for “boxes.” Quantitatively, the running record shows that Zaniyah was at an 89% accuracy rate with this K-level book. I will probably try the J-level book (which conveniently is about animals!) for her next Monday when we meet again, and see if this will be more in the prime of her instructional level—90% to 95%.
After reading the book, she proceeded to answer all but 1 of 10 questions correctly on a benchmark quick check over the book’s content. Her comprehension level was very high, for being borderline instructional and frustration levels of reading.
Lastly, we looked at the Burke Reading Interview…She mentioned a boy in her class, who we will call Mordecai, who was a good reader. She claimed Mordecai was a good reader because he practices a lot, spending lots of time reading, and because he sounds it out when he comes to words he doesn’t know. Zaniyah says she would help a struggling reader by showing them the parts of the unknown word that they do know, and splitting it up into these smaller chunks. She also expects her teacher to do the same. She believes her mom taught her to read by starting with easy books that have few words on each page. She considers herself a good reader because she likes to think about what she reads. I thought this last comment was the most interesting because it is definitely not how I would think about what makes a good reader at that age. I always thought of speed (words per minute) and how strong vocabulary was. I like her perspective, though, and I think it shows maturity and an understanding of reading as involving comprehension.
After this Burke reading interview, she had done so much already, so I gave her a break and we read my favorite book, The Library Lion (Michelle Knudsen) for a few minutes. She did a lot in a short time! Next time I will have a better idea of what she likes and how fast she moves though tests, so I think I will be more prepared.