Day 2 with Zaniyah (for class)

Today Zaniyah and I went through a lot of testing, and she stayed in a good mood throughout our time together, but I could tell it was hard for her, and she occasionally lost focus, spending way more time thinking about a basic question that seems typical for her when she was distracted by those around her. Maybe next week we will find a place to go that is quieter, with fewer people to distract around us. I also think it would help if I had a few fun transition things for us to do, even if it is standing up and stretching! Otherwise it is just a lot of sitting and thinking and talking to me (and I’m not that exciting!).


We began the day with another Happy Feet penguin sticker for each of us, which we later decided is what makes us so smart 🙂 We jumped right into a second running record, one level easier than last week’s. We read the level J book Animal Olympics. She scored 91% accuracy, so this is definitely in her instructional level. This running record confirmed what I discovered last week—Zaniyah doesn’t like the challenge of unknown words. When encountering something she doesn’t know, she often tries to sound it out (she knows her phonics rules!) but if she can’t figure it out, she skips over it or makes something else up. She often used the pictures and context to make up a phrase that wasn’t consistent with the written text. For example, when the animal reached the finish line in the story, the text says:

“The cheetah won.”

But Zaniyah said “They chanted wow!”

Both make sense in the context, and both have similar sounds with the “th,” “ch,” and “w” initial sounds. Zaniyah could have sounded it out correctly had I pointed out the mistake, I have no doubt. She uses graphophonics, semantics, and syntax all pretty equally as she reads, in my opinion. Zaniyah uses phonics to begin to sound out a word, but if she is going too quickly or is frustrated, she stops with the initial sound and makes up the rest based on context and grammar rules. A few more examples of this are included below.

The text said “All the young animals were invited to compete in the games.” And Zaniyah read “All the YORK animals were invited to COME TO the games.”

The text said “Bongo had only run…” and she said “Bongo hid only ran…”

The text said “were being held” and she said “while begin holding…”


These errors seem to drastically alter meaning, yet Zaniyah scored 100% on the comprehension check, even being able to expand on the answers she gave me.


Zaniyah enjoyed the idea of the Maze activity, but it took her a lot of time to think through, which was frustrating for her. Thus, I only had her complete the first ¾ of the activity. I will have her finish next time we meet, I think. On this first large chunk, however, Zaniyah scored 100%. She had no trouble deciding that “they were on their way to THE food store” and “the city was a busy PLACE” (all caps words were chosen by Zaniyah out of 3 options). I also should probably try a passage the next level up, in the grade 3 level, to see if she can do this.


Zaniyah read a grade 2 word list with 4 errors on the first try, and 3 errors on the second attempt (out of 20 words). This puts her in the low end of instructional level, so I tried to go up one level. She read the grade 3 word list with 12/20 correct, clearly within her frustration level. On the first list she never asked for help, but on the grade 3 list she gave up on a few words and asked me what they were, words like “treasure” and “automobile.” To be fair, she doesn’t even know what an automobile is! I wouldn’t expect her to be able to sound it out.


I could see that Zaniyah was sick of reading by this point, though she still had a good attitude, so we switched to phonemic awareness testing so that it was all auditory, and no reading was required. I administered all but the last section of the pre-assessment for phonic awareness (C.25 in the textbook, page 444). She did very well, scoring 100% on the syllabicating section, the section on distinguishing initial sounds, distinguishing oddity in initial sounds, blending onset with rime, blending letter sounds, segmenting sounds in words, and manipulating sounds in words. She made one error distinguishing rhyme, saying that “rule” and “milk” rhyme, but otherwise she did perfectly! These mini-tests took time to explain, but after giving a few examples, she did all of the book examples without error. I still have to finish the section on deleting initial sounds in words, because we ran out of time today, but I have no doubt that she will do well on it.


I plan to finish the phonemic awareness and maze tests next time, and also work on the phonics assessment on p. 456 of the textbook (C.30). Zaniyah was a delight to be around, once again, and I’m learning more and more that she uses all 3 cueing systems to read, but not always with equality. Hopefully I can think of a way to work on this once we are done with all the tests. 

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5 Responses to Day 2 with Zaniyah (for class)

  1. Jenn VanDyk says:

    Wow! You really got through a lot with your student which is great! It’s good to know that your student is right on target when it comes to vocabulary! Some kids struggle and knowing where they are vocabulary wise can help you make decisions on what passages/readings you should give them. Keep up the good work!

  2. Jennie Jansen says:

    You got a lot accomplished! If you’re not that exciting I’m must be terribly dull =]
    They chanted wow! That’s cute. It definitely sounds like she needs to slow down when she reads. And the fact that she is getting 100% comprehension is almost telling her that it is okay that she is just making up words using the right initial sound. I wonder if she knows how off she is when she is reading. I think for intervention strategies, to have her read just for fun a book that cues to her interests, and to have her read it slowly, taking the time to figure out the unknown words. And then to reread it again. Or even helping to build vocabulary prior to reading the book.

  3. Sara Vermeer says:

    Kiersten –
    You’ve gotten a lot of testing done already! I thought it was very interesting how your student has the ‘fear of the unknown’ for words, but got 100% on comprehension. It was awesome that you noticed that your student was sick of reading and gave her a break. You’re becoming a teacher 🙂

  4. Laura says:

    Wow! You are cruising through much material. Good job.
    It is curious that she is able to do so well with comprehension despite the miscues. Keep exploring! Im’ eager to see what you find out.

  5. Andrea Rau says:

    You’re student seems like a wonderful little girl to be with! (and I’m sure she thinks the same about you) I’m super impressed that she still gets all the comprehension right even though she makes up words in the text. It does sound like she needs a bit of work on vocabulary. I know she understands what she reads, but maybe learning more vocabulary words will help her to not just give up on words and make others up while she’s reading.

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