Struggling Readers in Third Grade Katie Poland Abstract My study focused on two struggling female students in third grade. Both girls are Hispanic, considered economically disadvantaged, currently receiving ESOL services, and living in a two parent household. I have selected these girls because they struggle in all subject areas, receive intervention support daily, and are both being considered for Special Ed testing. Although both girls have made substantial growth reading growth through the LLI program, they are still below grade level. They aren’t consistent and depending on the day and the genre of the story they read, their understanding of the story and oral reading they produce may sound very different. Through reviewing the literature in the areas of motivation, ability grouping, concept retention, teacher perception, student self-perception, and cultural influences I began collecting and analyzing data. I didn’t feel there was anything from either of the girls’ culture that was against them from making adequate progress and retaining information. I believed my puzzlements mainly took place in the school environment. Puzzlements I am puzzled as to why these girls show limited growth in the classroom even though they’re receiving targeted reading instruction through an accelerated program. I questioned why the girls are struggling to retain and use reading strategies consistently. The teacher and I are often re-teaching both curriculum and strategies. I wanted to gain insight into why the girls seem secure in a topic after being taught, but then appear to not have learned it the following day. I find this disconnect to be discouraging because they seem to make such good progress, but then lack in results during group, running records, and in-class assessments. Cultural Questions (Jacob, 1999) CIP 3.2.2: How might tracking and ability-grouping contributing to the puzzling situation? CIP 3.3.3: How might mismatches between a student or group’s preferred learning approaches and classroom processes be contributing to the puzzling situation?
Initial Data Collection and Analysis • Reading attitude survey, a motivation to read profile, and self-perception scale relating to reading, analyzed previous LLI running records, observed the girls in their classroom environment, conversed with their classroom teacher • Actions • Personal book bags, homework reminder, running records, Prompting Guide, reminder tool, nonfiction books and K-W-L charts, parent engagement resource tool • Findings • Have positive attitudes towards learning and school; want to do well and are motivated to learn • Don’t perceive themselves as struggling students. • Show intrinsic/ extrinsic motivation • Not affected by ability grouping and enjoy being pulled out of the classroom environment • Ability grouping/ small group pull out not affecting their motivation to learn • Have difficulty retaining concepts because they lack prior knowledge and experiences • Engage in conversations with their teacher and peers around topics and concepts • Can’t expect information to be taught, retained right away, and then applied (time) • Need curriculum to be scaffolded. • Build prior knowledge through interactive experiences. Conclusions Answers to puzzlements aren’t always obvious. Sometimes we must dig deeper and take cultural influences into consideration. Each student comes from their own unique set of circumstances. Failure to consider ones culture may subconsciously lead to misunderstandings about individual students. We cannot change the student’s families and experiences, but we can make changes in school. When teachers take interest and care about students’ lives, families, experiences etc. students are more likely to improve their learning and succeed in school (Gonzalezet al., 1995).