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1Running head: GETTING TO KNOW THE LITERACY LEARNERGetting to Know the Literacy Learner Brittany WeaverWalden UniversityDonna BialachREAD 6727 – Reading and Literacy Growth, Grades 4-6March 28, 2017
15GETTING TO KNOW THE LITERACY LEARNERLiteracy development is a complex process, but it is one that must be studied to make literacy accessible to all levels of learners. According to Reutzel and Cooter (2015), “Reading is the skill that makes virtually all other learning possible” (p. 5). As our students grow in one component of literacy, they become faced with new and more challenging tasks in their reading and writing development along the way. As educators, we must take the necessary steps to ensure we understand what our students need and how we can best support them in their growth as independent readers and writers. By getting to know our students, we become well versed in their levels, needs, motivations, and self-perceptions. Armed with this knowledge, we can develop targeted and individualized learning paths to guide each student towards his or her literacy goals. Using Assessment to Inform InstructionAs a fourth-grade teacher to fifty-six students, choosing only one to focus on his or her literacy identity may seem to some like a daunting task. However, when choosing which literacy learner to analyze, my thoughts immediately went to one. Cade is ten years old and an avid baseball player. Any mention of this sport makes his eyes light up. It isn’t too often that he showsthis lighter side to his teachers, though. Cade can more often be seen with his shoulders tensed up around his ears and a furrowed brow. Although he enjoys school, Cade suffers from anxiety that inhibits his academic performance. When he was introduced to me, his mother, a fifth-grade teacher just down the hall, expressed her concern for the upcoming school year. On the verge of tears, she described the frustration and self-doubt that has plagued Cade’s elementary years thus far. At that point I knew it would be my goal to help him find the confidence he was lacking and provide opportunities for him to feel successful.
15GETTING TO KNOW THE LITERACY LEARNERThe first step in making informed instructional decisions is assessment. Our school uses atechnology-based universal screener to assess students’ oral reading fluency (ORF) and reading comprehension level using a Maze test. Cade’s ORF stands at the eighty-ninth percentile. While he is a fluent reader, there is a significant discrepancy between his fluency and his ability to comprehend what he is reading. The Maze assessment has an “emphasis on vocabulary in context, therefore, reading comprehension” (Reutzel and Cooter, 2016, p. 269). According to his Maze assessment, Cade fell at the fifty-sixth percentile. “Fluency does not ensure better comprehension; rather, fluency gives extra time to the executive system to direct attention where it is most needed - to infer, to understand, to predict, or sometimes to repair discordant understanding and to interpret a meaning afresh.” (Wolf, 2008, p. 131). While Cade can read