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The Hunger Games

     Okay, I’m going to be honest- when I started reading this book I thought it was going to be the most dreadful book I ever read. As I continued to read, however, I got reeled in by the various themes (especially love). I am all for a good romance novel, and as soon as I learned of Katniss and Peeta’s budding romance, it motivated me to keep reading. Another overwhelming theme in the novel is survival. Katniss had to survive on a daily basis before even entering the Hunger Games, so I felt like that game her an advantage in the games. She was skilled with a bow and arrow to hunt and kill prey, she knew which berries and roots were good to eat, she knew how to take care of Peeta, and she was very intelligent about finding hiding places and shelters. The government also played a major role in this novel. The Hunger Games were a “punishment” from the capitol, and the government controlled the game. One of my favorite scenes in the book was after Foxface was killed, they announced there could only be one winner, so Katniss came up with a brilliant plan for them both to eat the poisonous berries and commit suicide. Then, there would be no winner. Although this was a rebellious act, Katniss knew the gamemakers wouldn’t let them go through with this, and they didn’t. Katniss and Peeta were both winners. This scene shows how Katniss used her intelligence and a little rebellion to get what she wanted.

So, why do kids like this trilogy? With the numerous themes found in this book, there’s got to be at least one that is appealing to a child. Also, I enjoyed it because it makes you feel like you are living in a different world, a different time. Children like things that are out of the ordinary.The main reason children like The Hunger Games is because it is well-written literature. Even kids can tell the difference between poorly-written literature and well-written literature.

Reading Habits and Attitudes

     Does Johnny’s Reading Teacher Love to Read? How Teachers’ Personal Reading Habits Affect Instructional Practices (McKool & Gespass, 2009) investigates the relationship between teachers’ personal reading habits and their instructional practice. A study was conducted using sixty-five elementary school teachers to further investigate this relationship by having them respond to a questionnaire which embedded questions related to leisure time reading. The  results of the study showed that teachers reports that they spent an average of 24 minutes per day reading for pleasure. 41% reported less tan 10 minutes of reading per day, and 63% of those reported not pleasure  reading at all. In the entire study, only 7 teachers (11%) reported more than 45 minutes of pleasure reading per day. These results should be very alarming, but they are not. Who has time to read leisurely when there are papers to grade, lessons to plan, laundry to fold, dishes to wash, children to take to sporting events, and anything else that must take priority in your life over leisure reading?!

     The results also found that 47% of teachers used instructional practices associated with extrinsic motivation (rewards), but a teacher who values reading should use both intrinsic (discussing and recommending good books) and extrinsic motivation. The instructional strategies that teachers used most frequently were sustained silent reading and asking oral comprehension questions. Teachers were asked to report which three literacy instructional strategies that they value and used regularly in their classrooms, and numerous results were reported. The three most valued instructional strategies were  teaching comprehension strategies (48% ), guided reading groups (37%), and  reading aloud to their students (28%). A teacher who valued reading, was more likely to use the best  literacy practices. The results of this study indicate that personal reading habits affects instructional practices.

         The Reading Habits and Literacy Attitudes of Inservice and Prospective Teachers (2008) describes a questionnaire survey of 747 students enrolled in a graduate school of education, who are currently teachers or prospective teachers. The purpose of this study was to investigate the fit between curricula and practices. The results of the study showed that aliteracy, the ability to read but a disinterest in personal reading, was a growing problem. Graduate students value the importance of reading, but they do not invest their time into personal reading.

      Teachers are role models for students, and it is very important that we have a passion for reading, and I think for education in general. I may not be an avid reader, but I know the power of reading, and I am a witness to how something as simple as reading can provide you with an opportunity to change the cycle of life that a family has always fallen into. So, no, I wouldn’t say that I am a passionate reader, but I am a passionate educator. I want kids to love reading, but I want them to love math, science, social studies, and all the other aspects of school as well. Do I think that my students can tell I don’t go home and read every night? No! Because I introduce and read every book with excitement and expression, just like it’s the first time I’ve laid eyes on the book. This may be harder to do if I were in a higher grade, but it’s pretty easy to do with children’s stories because I LOVE them! When I finish Grad School in May, my goal is to spend more time reading leisurely. (This won’t be that hard to do since I haven’t been reading at all!) 😀 Honestly, I do feel that having a personal reading relationship yourself makes it more natural to do in school, which would affect your practice. However, I do not think that I use poor practices in class due to my lack of personal reading habit.

References

MCKOOL, S. S., & GESPASS, S. (2009). Does Johnny’s Reading Teacher Love to Read? How Teachers’ Personal Reading Habits Affect Instructional Practices. Literacy Research & Instruction, 483), 264

-276. doi:10.1080/19388070802443700

Nathanson, S., Pruslow, J., & Levitt, R. (2008). The Reading Habits and Literacy Attitudes of Inservice and Prospective Teachers. Journal Of Teacher Education, 59(4), 313-321.

     Can you be a teacher of literacy if you don’t love to read? (Powell-Brown, 2003) not only proposed this specific question in the article, but also provided an answer. According to Powell-Brown (2003), she believed that teachers are role models for students, and that their passion for reading is very influential. Powell-Brown stated, “Teachers who have a passion for reading are role models and literacy spark plugs for students. If we want to be the best teachers we can be, we must demonstrate our own passion for reading” (2003, p. 288). The article mentioned several suggestions to help motivate children to read. These suggestions included: find what interests/excites the child; teacher-model excitement/passion for reading; ask for family support; read aloud daily; give choices when possible; and remind students that reading can be a recreational activity.

Teachers of literacy, love of reading, and the literate self: A response to Ann Powell-Brown (Gomez, 2005) discussed reasoning behind why teachers who did not love to read may be literacy teachers. Her answer to this question was one that I find simple and honest – they understand the importance of literacy, and so they choose to become literacy educators. While teachers are helping students to find their literate selves, teachers are often times reconciled with their personal literate self, which is sometimes lost along the way.

The Peter Effect: Reading habits and attitudes of preservice teachers (Applegate & Applegate, 2004) discussed the influence that a teacher’s habits and attitudes could have on students. A pilot study was conducted to determine whether prospective teachers are enthusiastic or unenthusiastic readers. The results showed that 54.3% of participants were unenthusiastic readers. A follow-up study was conducted, and the amount of unenthusiastic readers decreased to 48.4%, but this is still an alarming amount. The open-ended portion of the study perhaps allowed more insight into the situation. Many participants commented  that the teachers did not make reading interesting and that they struggled with reading. 17 of 18 participants commented that their teacher’s attitudes were very obvious during instruction, and that they had a negative attitude. 22 students commented that their attitudes had changed towards reading because of their experience in college, which is fantastic.

     I believe that it is very important to be great role models for students, and to really show your love for reading, but I do believe that you can be an effective literacy teacher if you do not love reading. Children are very influential, so as teachers, it is important that we are very careful when saying or doing things in class. I have always been a student who is a good reader, but I have never been a recreational reader – I would be labeled as an unenthusiastic reader. I read what is required for work, school, and social activities, but yet I realize the value of literacy, which is what led me to this program initially. I am very passionate about reading aloud to my students, reading with my students, and helping them grow as literate individuals, and I believe that passion shows every day when I set foot into the classroom. The fact that I do not always carry a book with me to read in my spare time does not make me an ineffective teacher, and a teacher who is always reading in her spare time isn’t going to necessarily be an effective teacher. There are many more contributing factors.

References

 Applegate, A. J., & Applegate, M. (2004). The Peter Effect: Reading habits and attitudes of preservice teachers. Reading Teacher, 57(6), 554-563.

Gomez, K. (2005). Teachers of literacy, love of reading, and the literate self: A response to Ann Powell-Brown. Journal Of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 49(2), 92-96.

Powell-Brown, A. (2003). Can you be a teacher of literacy if you don’t love to read?. Journal Of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 47(4), 284-288.

On page 182, Walczyk discusses “compensatory mechanisms” and the conditions under which they may be used. What does he mean by “compensatory mechanisms”?     Compensatory mechanisms are strategies or “tools” that students can use to help with comprehension of a text. For example, slow reading rate, look back or reread text, pause to gather and organize information, etc.

Walczyk argues that older readers and adults compensate for inefficient lower level processes, limited resources or difficulty of text when reading under normal (non-pressured) conditions? How do you think Walczyk might explain the poor readers’ failure to monitor their comprehension in the Long and Chong (2001) study?* Recall that subjects read passages in Long and Chong’s study at their own pace by pressing a space bar to present the next line, which erased the current line.     Even though participants could read at their own pace in the Long and Chong study, they could still feel pressure in the situation. If they are a struggling reader, they are probably having to focus on decoding words and actually reading the selection, which would make it difficult to comprehend and recall what they read. When I was reading the passages, I felt pressured because I was worried about if I would remember what I read when I was finished, and I could not look back in the text. In that study, the participants were at a disadvantage because could not use all of the compensatory mechanisms. They could slow their reading rate and pause to gather and organize information, but they could not look back in the text and they could only reread the line of text which they were presently reading.

Luke was an eighth grade student who suffered from Seizure Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder, and he struggled with reading. Luke read on about a third grade reading level. It was believed that Luke’s problems were stemmed from his lack of attention. Luke’s biggest weakness in reading was fluency. Unfortunately, there are many students like Luke in our classes, that are several grade levels below in reading and who may suffer from ADD or other disorders that may complicate their reading ability.

During the summer reading clinic, Luke attended one hour tutoring sessions that were focused on improving reading fluency. Each night Luke was required to listen to a chapter on audio tape. After listening to one page, Luke stopped the tape and read the page himself. After reading the entire chapter, Luke reread the first three pages of the chapter. The first two minutes of each tutoring session were spent as a homework check. Luke would have to read a selected passage from the first three pages of the chapter he had read the night before, and the tutor would count the words read per minute.

After the homework check, Luke was participated in a guided reading activity using a third or fourth grade text, usually a biography. Luke and the tutor would partner read, alternating reading pages aloud. The tutor would check for comprehension, and Luke showed good comprehension of the text.

The next part of the lesson was a repeated reading, which was a 300-word passage from a chapter that he had previously read during guided reading. Luke had 2 minutes to read the passage, and aimed to read it as smoothly as possible. The tutor would record the words read per minute. Luke would read a particular passage 2 times in one session and 2 times the next session, so that each repeated reading passage was read four times. The last ten minutes of the session were spent as the tutor reading aloud to Luke.

During my student teaching, all the aspects of this intervention were included in our daily schedule. I teach afterschool tutoring for students who were believed to be “at risk” of failing EOG’s, and I also included these intervention strategies in my lessons.

Phrasing is an important component of reading fluency, and not knowing where to group or “chunk” the words decreases fluency ability. In order to improve phrasing ability, repeated reading and tape-recorder readings are highly recommended. Orally reading the text helps students learn how to identify chunks.

This article related the most to Ehri’s study. Ehri believed that all processes must be amalgamated in order for reading to be automatic. While Luke had no problem with comprehension, he had to concentrate on decoding and word recognition which decreased his reading fluency. As his decoding and word recognition became more automatic, his fluency improved.

Define these terms:

Propositions:  units found within a sentence to give the sentence meaning

Microstructure Textbase:  individual words, their order within a sentence, and the structure of a sentence found within the text.

Macrostructure:  the topic or main idea of a text.

Situation Model:  understanding the sentences that are read and linking them to prior knowledge.

Local Coherence:  understanding propositions in a sentence.

Global Coherence:  the thoughts and ideas that you understand from reading a text and what you link from prior knowledge.

Understanding the context (propositions) of a text is very important. One must understand what they read, link it to prior knowledge, comprehend it, and store it in their memory. The context is the reason we read a text- to gather information and understanding.

Working Memory

I believe that working memory is the ability to connect prior knowledge with new information, and remember it. Once information is placed in long-term memory, the process of retrieving the information is more “automatic”, and faster. Working memory is usually measured by tests, such as the SAT. Working memory plays a role in comprehension because as a person reads they must connect new and prior knowledge to get meaning out of a text. In other words, the brain is completing many tasks at one time.

Working memory fits into Adams’ theory because she believes there are many processors who are working simultaneously to complete the task of reading. Many things must also happen in order to retrieve information from long-term memory or place it in long-term memory.

This study by Betty Hart and Todd Risley shows the role that communication plays in vocabulary development. Sadly, it is very obvious what type of family children come from when they enter kindergarten. Some are read to every night, and others may not have ever seen a book (other than a magazine or sales paper that came in the mail). It is so frustrating that parents do not realize the effects that their actions have on their children. Children mimic what their parents do, especially when it comes to vocabulary. Therefore, parents need to communicate openly and use higher order vocabulary (as discussed in the Beck and McKeown study) when speaking to their children. The children will “pick up” these words and use them. Doing this will only help students be more successful in school, why do parents not want to better prepare their children for school?

In this article by Beck and McKeown, there were two studies conducted. The purpose of the  first study was to compare the number of higher-order words learned through direct instruction with those who were not taught the advanced words. Four kindergarten classes and four first grade classes from the same school participated in this study, but they could only collect enough data from 98 children (52  in experimental class rooms). The children who received direct instruction were taught based on a read aloud project, Text Talk. In order for the comparison group to be exposed to the same vocabulary, they participated in daily read alouds. All students were given a pre-test and a vocab post-test. The experiment showed that there was a significant difference in the number of learned vocabulary words between the experimental group that received direct instruction and the comparison group which received no instruction.

The purpose of study 2 was to compare the number of learned vocab words with the amount of time that instruction was given. Three kindergarten classes (36 children) and three first grade classes (40 children) from a different school in the district of the school from the first study participated in the study. All students were African American, and 81% were eligible for free/reduced lunch. Instruction was delivered through Text Talk read alouds, but one group received 3 days of instruction and the others received 6 days of instruction (More Rich). These students were also given pre-tests and post-tests to measure their progress. This study found that more instruction was very beneficial.

Both of these studies show how important it is that we include vocabulary lessons in our curriculum. Not only should we teach and test the vocab, but we should have them “use” it in their writings and in their speech. We can’t just teach these words a couple of times, we must keep reviewing it and practicing them. As i’m sure you have all witnessed, repetition is the key for learning new information, and makes information more likely to be recalled.

All of the models that we have read about thus far mention the importance of vocabulary. It has been proven that students with a richer vocabulary are better readers and can usually comprehend what they read. With all the research conducted about vocabulary, comprehension, and reading, why is a vocabulary lesson not included in our daily schedule? It would only benefit the students.

Vocabulary (May 21)

This was a very easy read and I really enjoyed it. It fascinates me that children’s success in school, sometimes, depends on the family and how important literacy is to them. I know this is true, and i’m sure every teacher can see that. I wish all parents would read to their children every day, beginning when they are babies. They will develop and use more vocabulary, and hopefully they will see reading as a happy, positive activity. It is also very obvious that students who read more do build more vocabulary that students who do not. As for trying to get students to talk and write with their receptive vocabulary instead of their expressive, I need to work on that as well!

This model definitely fits into the Adams’s model. One of the processors was meaning, and that is where vocabulary would fit. Not only do students need to recognize the word, but they must also know the meaning of the word. Vocabulary is a very important component in reading, but the meaning processor must work with all other processors for successful reading. If you lack in one processor, the others will suffer.