Case Study 1: An Action Research Project

“Can’t see the forest for the ABC’s.”  Rethinking Comprehension.

Teachers on grades three to six in a low socioeconomic school where 98% of students have English as a second language administered the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmarking at the end of 2010. As they analysed the data one question emerged: Why do students who are reading with accuracy levels of 97% and above have limited comprehension. This question became the focus for an action research project.

Teachers in three low socio-economic schools in Sydney, asked students in grades three and five what they thought good readers did. Student responses were categorized and analysed.

Student responses were insightful:

“Good readers keep six feet on the ground.”                                                  Screen Shot 2013-01-28 at 7.22.59 PM

“Good readers read lots of books in bed.”

“Good readers sound out every word.”

The saddest answer was from a student in grade three who said,” I don’t know because I can’t read.”

Students predominantly saw reading as simply decoding or actions related to good behavior. Reading for understanding or enjoyment was rarely mentioned. The focus of the teaching became how to develop student’s concept that reading is about meaning. We wanted to develop comprehension and students sharing their thinking about a text. The action research explored the important role that conversation has in engaging students in the multiple meanings of texts and ways to develop comprehension strategies through conversation. A poster was developed to help teachers focus their teaching. This poster is available as a free download. (See Resources)

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Case Study 2: Inschool consultancy support

“We thought we were teaching for deep understanding.”

After an instructional round in August 2011 indicated that 90% of teacher and student conversations on texts focussed at word level and not on meaning, the principal of a South Western Sydney school invited Trio Professional Learning to provide inschool consultancy to improve student literacy.  Mary-Ellen worked one day a week with groups of teachers in a three week cycle to implement a range of assessment strategies, to analyse assessment information, to plan teaching and learning using the data, to develop a school wide approach to literacy and to develop a common language around literacy instruction and data analysis.

In August 2012 the feedback from the instructional round indicated that a transformation was taking place.  Students were highly engaged in deep conversations about their reading.  Students talked about what they were learning and what they needed to improve.  The instructional round feedback started with the statement “whatever your professional learning is, keep doing it because it is working!”  There is no downloadable for this but I can tell you the secret!  It is teachers talking about teaching and their students.

So what did they do?  Teachers:

  • implemented Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System across the school
  • analysed the running records and used the data to plan for modelled, guided and independent reading
  • reflected on their practice and shared highs and lows (they laughed a lot)
  • developed school wide expectations for daily literacy sessions (see Resources)
  • talked about their students and their learning

A simple plan!  Trio invites you to share in our conversations about teaching and learning.

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