Have you ever tried to get better at something, yet have obstacles that prevent you from doing your best? In our school, over 60% of our children receive free or reduced lunches, which shows that almost 2/3 of our students come from lower income families. Many of these students in third, fourth, and fifth grade are below grade level in Reading, based on various assessments used by our district. These students don't come from a "print-rich" home environment and therefore haven't been exposed to a lot of reading materials. Consequently, this obstacle causes them to struggle in reading, which leads to problems in other subject areas, also.
They are all anxious to do well and strive to excel, but when they don't have the necessary background skills, success is extremely hard, causing frustration to creep in on them.
Fortunately, my classroom helps to address some of the reading deficiencies found in these students that are below grade level. We work on reading skills and strategies that hopefully fill in gaps and will in turn, help the students become much more successful in reading.
My classroom uses three rotations to address students' deficiencies in reading. In one rotation, children participate in a teacher-guided lesson to learn strategies and skills to help them improve. In a second rotation, they are logged onto a computer program that is individualized, based on previous assessments that have been done. In the third rotation, they are to choose books and read independently. But if students already struggle in reading, I is hard for them to be productive when working independently. They need a positive model to help them understand what they are reading. But if I am working with a small group, I can't be getting up and down to help the others with problems they encounter. By having books recorded on CD, the students are able to listen to the story while following along with the text.
I love to use books on CD for them to read along with, so that they hear vocabulary, phrasing, and intonations used correctly.
I have a few CD players, but the ones I have are now on their last leg. By having newer CD players with headphones and an inviting place to set them up, the children will once again be able to listen and follow along with books they choose to read. No more, "My headphones don't work." "She stepped on my CD player." My hopes are that this grant will help the children become more independent and successful with their reading!
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