Case Reflection Struggling Reader Term Paper

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[. . .] But the correct way of getting Jake to be a better reader is not to obsess over how he could improve specifically his approach to this artificial standard -- the way of getting Jake to be a better reader is close observation of Jake's own needs and abilities.

5. My course work at this college has indeed prepared me to conduct this case study in an objective and informed manner. I have deliberately chosen to emphasize Jake's personal qualities and the admirable things about his scholarship that do not necessarily appear on a test, but I am not doing this out of some sense of bias -- instead I want to make it clear that the learning process necessarily includes a human element, and sensitivity to the specific personal nature of the struggle that every struggling reader undergoes. The story is not the same for every student like Jake, and I wanted to validate the specifics of this story as a way of asserting the fact that specifics are important. But at the same time, I am fully capable of generalizing in a scientific fashion about what I have learned doing this case study. It is a generalization to say that diversified and differentiated instruction produces better results than a one-size-fits-all approach -- however this is a generalization that ultimately warns us about the limited utility of generalization itself as a pedagogical tool.

6. Fulfilling this case study assignment is ultimately a useful way of improving my own performance as an educator. It certainly gives an awareness of the human costs and human drama of the struggle to learn to read, a sort of awareness that can only help me be more flexible and sensitive in the classroom after. This kind of intimate observation is simply not possible (or responsible) when a teacher has a classroom of thirty students to shepherd through this process. But knowing what the actual facts of a struggling reader can be like, through close observation and analysis, are an excellent way of preparing to approach the problem through a panoply of different resources. If, in the actual classroom, personal time and connection with a student like Jake become more difficult to achieve, at the same time knowing what kinds of technological resources can be allocated to a student like him becomes vital. Moreover, the basic lesson here is one in which indeed no child will be left behind, because the educator becomes sensitized to the different types of struggles that readers can undergo. Not all struggling readers will be as well-behaved or strongly motivated as Jake was: I understand that as well.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Berkeley, S. & Lindstrom, J.H. (2011). Technology for the Struggling Reader: Free and Easily Accessible Resources. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 43(4), 48-55. Retrieved from http://www.editlib.org/p/52968

Berkeley and Lindstrom approach the problem of the struggling reader in terms of the larger community surrounding the student -- including parents and educators, assuming these are all on board with the process of helping the struggling reader attain greater proficiency. Berkeley and Lindstrom assert that there are far too few professional guidelines or indicators that can assist the educational community in assessing what sort of technological solutions are available to provide assistance and support to a student, particularly when the struggling reader may be undergoing a problem which is not physical in nature, but rather cognitive (i.e., something like "specific learning disability," to use their terminology).

Berkeley and Lindstrom assess the utility of the resources offered by the National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM). This site offers an analysis of what they describe as "AT" or "Assistive Technology" of the sort that can be provided to a struggling reader via online means or outside of the basic (and often intimidating) format of books and printed matter. They emphasize that reading and comprehension can be greatly improved by the use of technology, but the educational establishment often has little awareness of where to find such assistance, or of what sort of technology is appropriate for what sort of reading disability. As the technological tools surveyed by Berkeley and Lindstrom in the article are all available free of charge, this is a particularly useful article for any educator who is in need of additional resources.

Dalton, B. And Jocius, R. (2013), From Struggling Reader to Digital Reader and Multimodal Composer, in Evan Ortlieb, Earl H. Cheek (ed.) School-Based Interventions for Struggling Readers, K-8 (Literacy Research, Practice and Evaluation, Volume 3), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.79-97

Dalton and Jocius are approaching the question of the struggling reader in terms of the vast technological shift that is occurring at this very moment: they wish to expand the notion of literacy to a larger idea of digital literacy, in order to enable education professionals to help their struggling readers attain competency in the new forms of reading which are (arguably) most crucial to the generational and cultural environment of these students. Dalton and Jocius begin by arguing for the necessity of making technology and digital literacy part of what the struggling reader should be encouraged and educated to approach, although they do not ultimately address all ways in which the integration of this into existing curricula can or should be accomplished. Instead, they emphasize priorities where the struggling reader may be most positively impacted by the integration of technology into the educational process.

Dalton and Jocius additionally provide the results of specific research conducted into how technological assistance and support can be used to bring struggling readers up to grade-level literacy, while improving skills in written composition and in reading comprehension, and incorporating multi-media strategies to assist the struggling student in the process. They emphasize that educational professionals need to better understand the importance of bringing technology to bear on the problem of the struggling reader, because it will help not only in terms of student achievement but also in terms of student engagement and interest.

Le Cordeur, M. (2011). The struggling reader: Identifying and addressing reading problems successfully at an early stage. Per Linguam, 26(2). doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.5785/26-2-23

Le Cordeur's study focuses on English-language instruction for struggling readers in a country that is not America. This is vital for anyone who is concerned that standardized testing and curricular reforms in America may be skewing the process of how students and more specifically struggling readers are being educated. Le Cordeur focuses on struggling readers in South Africa, and focuses on a student population that is roughly the same age (a year younger) than the student observed in the case study.

Le Cordeur offers an extremely broad overview of reasons why intermediate readers may be struggling: these start with the most obvious which are special learning needs (i.e. problems of a neurological nature) and diverse cultural backgrounds (i.e., the multilingual struggling reader), but then offers a highly useful catalogue or checklist of other reasons, including previous instruction that does not adequately emphasize reading strategy, the student's own internal sense of motivation, issues of socioeconomic status, and an overall culture of neglect. Le Cordeur's ultimate findings are fairly sensible and straightforward. He emphasizes that struggling intermediate readers need to have the focus placed on school instruction, because they do not include reading as an extracurricular activity and thus do not improve through activity outside school. He notes that struggling readers need specific instruction in the use of comprehension strategies, and that teachers can do a lot to help in this regard. He also crucially notes that the best predictor of reading achievement is vocabulary, even though vocabulary has traditionally been regarded as difficult to teach: thus it should be emphasized more saliently.

Paterson, P.O. And Elliott, L.N. (2006), Struggling Reader to Struggling Reader: High School Students' Responses to a Cross-Age Tutoring Program. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 49: 378 -- 389. doi: 10.1598/JAAL.49.5.2

Paterson and Elliott present an intriguing proposition -- they examine the structure, the perceptions and the overall results and responses of a tutoring program in which struggling readers tutor other struggling readers, in this case high schoolers (ninth grade) are tutoring elementary schoolers (second and third grade) in learning to read.

If the concept sounds unusual, Paterson and Elliott explain that the structure of the program was established to address one specific issue in the educational improvement of older (high school age) struggling readers. By this point, the idea of remedial reading has, for the high school student, become almost a form of social stigma -- to subject these ninth graders to similar remedial processes they have undergone in the past actually produces diminishing returns. Paterson and Elliott proposed to increase these students' sense of agency by putting them in the leadership role.

The results of the program were overall positive. Paterson and Elliott note that the older struggling readers fell into good strong pedagogical relationships with the younger struggling readers, and were able to assist them largely due to their sense of identification and community. But more crucially the older struggling readers were indeed positively impacted in… [END OF PREVIEW]

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