Young children can have reading difficulties due to many different reasons that can sometimes be due to comprehension difficulties, sometimes emotional or even behaviour issues. According to McKenna and Stahl (2015) state that, to truly determine whether a child does in fact have a reading problem, one needs to always consider that the main purpose of reading is comprehension. However, the most commonly issues identified by researchers are problems that lie in the decoding, in the reading comprehension skills that are often below average due to poor decoding problems and fluency, which is also often below average due to the lack of decoding skills. The purpose of this essay is to select a reading assessment tool that will increase my professional understanding of reading, after considering Jane’s profile. Jane is a 7 year old girl, who displays an interest in listening to stories and exploring picture books but appears not to be interested in reading. She struggles with alphabet knowledge and has limited knowledge of basic sight words. With this knowledge, I will also construct a learning plan and consider what other assessment tools I could use, in order to assist Jane in improving her reading skills and confidence.
The tool that I have chosen to help assist in increasing my professional knowledge in the understanding of Jane’s reading, is the informal phonics inventory. This assessment tool
measures the specific phonics skills such as letter sounds, digraphs, such as (ch, sh and ph) and blends such as (bl, fl, st). According to McKenna and Stahl (2015) state that this assessment presents children with either individual letters or two-letter combinations in order for the child to offer the correct pronunciations. I have chosen this tool because I believe using this tool, will enable me to provide, the best way forward, in which to monitor Jane’s level of specific phonics skills. Phonics is a relationship between letters, sounds and as Jane has a limited alphabet knowledge and an incomplete knowledge of basic sight words, this assessment tool will definitely identify the gaps in her learning. According to the Common Core Standards (2010), a first-grade student should be able to identify sounds and read words with long sounds that are created by the “silent e” and common vowel pairs. It is evident in Jane’s profile that she is unable to do this, as she presents in her reading ability to be closer to that of an emergent literacy stage. Jane shows more of an interest in books by using pictures and cues to retell the story than actually reading. According to Tompkins, Campbell, Green and Smith (2015) state that young children in the emergent stage, gain an understanding of communicative print, where they move from pretend reading to reading of predictable books with the use of pictures in which to retell the story.
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Using the informal phonics inventory will best fit Jane’s situation, as this assessment uses a scoring method that will assess Jane’s reading ability, by placing her scores into mastery, review or systematic instruction category as to where her reading abilities lie. According to McKenna and Stahl (2009) state that the informal phonics inventory should be used in two steps namely: to use as a screener to determine areas on which to focus on and to track the progress of the individual students as they learn specific skills. This assessment will greatly benefit Jane’s situation in order to address her learning difficulties and in time, give her confidence in her reading ability, so that she will want to read. According to Reutzel, Brandt, Fawson and Jones (2014) state that, in research that was conducted, the systematic phonics instruction helps all children learn to read with greater success than non-systematic or no phonics instruction.
It is important and vital for younger children to learn letter names if they are to become proficient readers. This is because fluent readers do not recognize words as a whole but rather by identifying the component letters and secondly, using the alphabet knowledge enables the teacher to have some referring to the letters while teaching them. Although Jane notices the print environment, she does not show an interest in books, and when she is asked to read, she will distract herself by rather tidying up her desk which would indicate that she is battling and does not want to try reading because she does not know how too. As an emergent literacy reader, Jane would only know roughly 5-20 familiar or high frequency words. According to MOE (2015) children after two years of school should be able to draw on skills and knowledge and can automatically recognize 300 to 500 words in their instructional texts. Jane’s profile clearly indicates that she has not mastered the skills or strategies to build on her phonics skills or identify basic words such as decoding unfamiliar words and automatically recognizing high frequency words. Using the informal phonics inventory assessment tool will assist in calculating the ability to process and score the following sounds such as consonant sounds, consonant digraphs, beginning consonant blends that are the first three subsets and the next two subsets, use real words on the final consonant blends subtest. Jane would be scored for her ability to read each blend as part of the real word. Jane would score correctly, even if she pronounced the blend correctly but did not pronounce the word correctly. In the short vowel test in the CVC word test, the word is scored correctly as long as the correct vowel sound is read, for example reading fin for tin is considered correct. With the silent e rule, this is more complex and this requires the child to consciously apply the rule rather than simply read the words. Children who are unable to master this subtest, but who can read vowel digraphs, will often pick up the silent-e rule more quickly, because they have previously acquired the long-vowel concept. The scoring for the informal phonics inventory for all subtests and for the total text, use the following criteria such as mastery 80%, needs review 60 – 79% and needs systematic instruction below 50%. As Jane has a limited alphabet knowledge and incomplete knowledge of basic sight words, the information gained from the assessment, I believe, would indicate that her results would fall within the systematic instruction. The blue book that Jane is currently reading and is battling with according to the literacy online website (2019) states that many high-frequency words are evident, including being strongly supported by illustrations and context.
The lesson plan that I would put in place for Jane would be to incorporate mini-lessons in the form of teaching phonemic awareness that would include singing songs, chanting rhymes, read aloud wordplay books. According to Tompkins, et al, (2015) state that children need to have many opportunities to match, isolate, blend and substitute sounds and practice words and sounds. This would give Jane additional practice at learning new strategies that would incorporate identifying sounds into words, substituting sounds to make new words, blending sounds to form words and segmenting a word into sounds. In this minilesson, I would also include the use of wordplay books, song and games. A 20 minute lesson would include the introduction of a topic, followed by a shared example and then to provide information about the topic. According to Tompkins, et al, (2015) state that a book such as Dr Seuz to ask the children to identify words that are pronounced sound by sound examples of this would include rich wordplay such as rhyming do, you and quick and trick. The second part of the mini-lesson would include sound-matching activities. According to Tompkins, et al, (2015) state that children choose one of several words beginning with a particular sound or a word that begins with a certain sound such as toys, books or familiar objects. The children could also choose the objects in their classroom that they would want to include in the game. According to Tompkins, et al, (2015) states that for this game, a teacher would need to hold up an object and they name it together, one child would need to select an object while the second child would need to choose the same object from the box. The other classmates would need to ensure that the two children playing the game would need to be holding up the same objects. With these mini-lessons, I would use objects or activities or pictures that Jane can identify with and that also contains the letters of the alphabet so that Jane is able to identify these. According to Tompkins, et al, (2015) state that teachers needs to emphasize blending and segmenting because children need these two strategies for phonics and spelling. I would include fun activities that would encourage Jane to participate and feel relaxed in her learning.
According to McKenna and Stahl (2015) state that the negatives of using the informal phonics inventory include that some educators may disagree that individual consonants cannot be pronounced without attaching a vowel sound. However, children need only pronounce the blend correctly to get credit for each item. You will see that some children can pronounce the blend but confuse the short-vowel sounds. Research done on this assessment tool suggest would that one limitation can be that this assessment becomes very exhausting for the student, who towards shuts down mentally as they can no longer read the words.
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Lastly, I would include the Burt Word Reading Test for Jane which would include that the student looks at a student card that contains 110 words printed on it. According to Nicholson (2005) state that the words are printed in different sizes in this reading test. They start with the larger words and finish with the smaller words. The student would be asked to read each word along each line from left to right until 10 consecutive miscues occur. Once that has been completed the student is asked to have a look at the remaining words by stating which words are left. According to Nicholson (2005) states that this assessment tool is one of the best for teachers to use, as the test uses word reading indirectly to assess the decoding skill and decoding issues are the main issue when students are learning to read. The use of this reading test would indicate which basic sight words Jane can read and which ones she would have problems with reading or not being unable to read.
Using assessment tools, would be the best for Jane, for her learning and development in the future, so that she can learn to enjoy reading and feel proud of her achievements, this will take time but with hard work and determination, she will improve and gain confidence in her abilities. Once the gaps have been found in Jane’s reading ability, going back to the basics of relearning the skills and strategies with practice and perseverance, will enable Jane to build up vocabulary and confidence in which to automatically read basic sight words and develop an enjoyment of reading.
- McKenna, M. C, & Sthal, K. A. (2009). Assessment for reading instruction (2nd ed.) New York, U.S.A: The Guilford Press.McKenna, M. C, & Sthal, K. A. (2015). Assessment for reading instruction (3rd ed.).New York, U.S.A: The Guilford Press.
- Ministry of Education. (2015). The literacy learning progressions: Meeting the reading and writing demands of the curriculum. Wellington: New Zealand. Learning Media Limited.
- Ministry of Education. (2019). Literacy online. Retrieved from http://www.literacyonline.tki.nz
- National Governors Association Center for Best Practices & Council of Chief State School
- Officers. (2010). Common Core State Standards. Washington, DC: Authors.
- Nicholson, T. (2005). Phonics handbook: Chickchester, UK: Whurt. (pp. 82-100).
- Reutzel, R. D., Brandt, L., Fawson, P. C., & Jones, C. D. (2014). Exploring of the consortium on reading excellence phonics survey: An instrument for assessing primary-grade students’ phonics knowledge. The Elementary School Journal. Vol. 115, No. 1 (September 2014). pp. 49-72.
- Tompkins, G., Campbell, R., Green, D. & Smith, C. (2015). Literacy for the 21st century: A balanced approach (2nd ed.). Melbourne, Victoria, Australia: Pearson.