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Provo City School District

Edgemont Elementary School

Last modified: September 15, 2020

Action Research

Lisa Garner

Action Research

March 7, 2018

Interview: Students who are not yet fluent in 1st grade reading, get slower and slower at reading, lose content and meaning, and sometimes lose interest, when a passage has too many words to sound out. They are usually deflated in the process. Yet the passages have words that contain phonics sounds they should know and be able to put together. Some of the comments students made about themselves when they talked about reading were things like, “I’m not that good at it.” Or “I like writing and math, but reading is hard.”

Dig Deeper: the students are still confusing phonics sounds, especially long vowel patterns with ai, ay, igh, oa, and ea. Lower readers still confuse letters (b, d) as they read new words. This gets in the way of reading fluency and comprehension. The challenges of reading at such a snail’s pace, with so many errors, creates a vicious cycle where they either lose interest, are lured by other distractions because it’s simply “easier” to give in, and if the right interventions aren’t given, they lose confidence and want to give up.

Capture findings: They try to sound out, they skip words sometimes if they are difficult and new, they guess by looking at the first letter/s then assume the rest of the word is a familiar word, not the print on the page. Then they’re not always stopping to see if it makes sense in context. They’re reading for “speed” but not accuracy or for making meaning.

How I captured findings was by the Dibels progress monitoring and by grade level common assessments, as well as readings of some of the nursery rhymes and poems selected specifically for this research. Writing was an additional measure I used to solidify the words to one nursery rhyme.

Insights: they know who is better at reading in the class than they are. They look to those students to help when we do whole group reading. They also revere those students as “the smartest” in class, in spite of my efforts to share that all are “smart” and learning at their own pace.

Define problem statement: Struggling readers need a way to practice phonics rules a.k.a. “sneaky sounds” with repeated readings in ways that are fun and engaging.

Ideate: test the following as a result of our brainstorming. It was a fun and better way to plan than alone. The collaborative process is powerful!

Music to poetry-keep the beat, follow the rhythms as they read and sing poems

Dance to nursery rhymes-they will buddy read (pair lows with highs), create a dance to the rhymes, then write a new ending to their own nursery rhyme while their buddy reads the nursery rhyme for them. They will take turns and have repeated reading and dancing experiences.

Read poetry with phonics rules: use poems as a shared reading on a daily basis. Individually “pass off” poems with the teacher (looking for improved fluency and accuracy-they must track the words as they read, even if they’ve begun to memorize parts).

Read fluency passages daily: read a graduated fluency passage for confidence and automaticity on a daily basis during reading and at home

  1. Share your solutions and capture feedback: We got feedback that was positive from Cally about nursery rhymes and dance. She modeled how it could look, reminding us that we want our students to dance not act out the rhymes.

Our music teacher said she’s working on or will work on reading fluency and music for her PhD. She was really happy to do this with our classes in STEAM.

Feedback from students: the students love the dancing to and singing of the nursery rhymes and phonics poems. The vote was unanimous. They were engaged more than when we read and reread passages without music and dance. That was clear from observation. The fact that they all sang when I pulled out the rhymes or poems was strong evidence that this was highly engaging. They really liked to sing for each other as the other danced to the nursery rhyme. The movement was motivating for them. They really had fun!

Feedback as per hard data:

Of the 5 focus students I had (1 of which is in Special Education, the other in referral for Special Education) the breakdown is as follows:

Student 1:

Student 2:

Student 3:

Student 4: (referred to Special Ed.)

Student 5: (Special Ed.)

  1. Reflect and generate a new solution.

I think a longer period of time would be helpful to the students. Even though the timeline for the assignment was a month, we only worked on the dance and nursery rhyme recitations for a week and a half.

I still need to work with these students individually so that I can expect them to stay on task while carefully attending to each word. Working with a higher reading buddy was a fun and good approach, but overall, these are the students who always need more work with me. We will be having our music teacher use a metronome on Friday to help them start slow and speed up as they recite the poems and sing the poems with her. Overall, I am happy with the progress they’ve made and know I will continue to use these art forms and methods, while trying it with a slightly different twist.

  1. Build your solution. We are choosing a multi-step approach using 4 of the above ideas. This is what we chose to do and then assess.