Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Instructional Strategies

I am currently seeking the most effective instructional strategies to help improve my students' ability to comprehend what they read. At the beginning of the year, only 3 out of 24 of my fifth-grade students were proficient in reading comprehension at the fifth-grade level. This immediately became of deep concern to me and prompted my current action research. But beyond seeking the most effective strategies to improve comprehension, I am determined to find if a specific combination of instructional strategies is more effective than stand alone strategies.

Since the beginning of the third quarter, I have been incorporating active engagement whiteboards, think-pair-share, choral reading, and guided practice into our whole-group instruction. This is followed by a practice session and small-group instruction. While the majority of students are engaged practicing the fresh concept, I meet with 5-6 of my students and engage them into small-group instruction for 5-7 minutes. I then rotate the rest of my students in so that each student receives such focused instruction. After I have rotated through my small-groups, I pull the class back together for one last opportunity to collaborate over what they learned with a couple think-pair-shares requiring a genuine understanding followed by a surmising discussion. The last strategy I have been incorporating with each lesson is homework specifically focused on the day's reading instruction.

So far, students seem to be responding to this type of daily instruction very well. Many of my students have verbalized that they are having more fun with our lessons, and it shows. My students seem to be more eager to learn. Additionally, I have had fewer student disruptions since the start of this quarter, and I believe this is because we have been utilizing numerous strategies in our lessons which keep my students actively thinking and focused. Moreover, the small-groups have allowed me to focus on specific needs with specific students, and this looks to be promising in our efforts to improve reading comprehension.

One struggle I have been having is with homework participation. Student participation has been between 70-75%, but I would like to get this above 90%. The students that have been participating seem to be responding and to this point, seem to be performing better on our reading assessments, but it is still too early to say. Any suggestions are welcome and greatly appreciated.

I am excited about our new approach to reading comprehension instruction, and I am very pleased that my students are enjoying the learning process. I will be in contact with my students' parents in an effort to help motivate and support their children with their homework. I believe reviewing concepts after time has elapsed will help my students commit what they have learned to memory, and they will gain a deeper understanding.