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I As A Learner Reflection: May

I As A Learner Reflection

Kelsey May
CIL 621: 1002
May 9, 2018
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
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I As A Learner Reflection: May

Throughout the past two years of teaching, I have seen students succeed and grow in the

classroom, but also struggle with English concepts. Many of my 7th grade students are below

grade level in reading and have difficulties with reading comprehension, fluency, writing, and

spelling. Within my classroom I teach children who come from all different walks of life and

who have different skill sets. In order for them to receive high quality instruction that is

meaningful and rigorous, I must differentiate my lessons and provide opportunities for students

to reflect on their own learning.

My goal for this semester was to research different academic resources that could be used

in the classroom to help students to achieve their learning goals and develop lessons that would

appropriately challenge my scholars. I used a variety of literacy resources including NewsELA,

Commonlit, and ReadWorks to find differentiated texts for all students. By giving students texts

within their individual lexile levels, students felt more confident and were able to participate in

higher level analysis which allowed them to demonstrate mastery of the academic standards.

These forums also have a large number of texts that are relevant to my students whether it be in

regard to culture or current events. The texts come with text-based questions that are aligned

with CCSS standards. This is useful for data tracking and gauging student progress. In regard to

building fluency, Commonlit and ReadWorks both have audios with the texts. Many students

reported that it was helpful for them to be able to hear the text as they read. Students reported

that while they sometimes did not recognize the words when they saw them, they were able to

make connections when they heard them. Another method that I used this semester was partner

reading and read-alouds. I was able to demonstrate standards like tone and mood through read-

alouds. Students also had the opportunity to practice and improve their literacy through partner
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I As A Learner Reflection: May
reading. Students reported that they enjoyed partner reading because it allowed them to practice

reading aloud in a more comfortable setting.

In regard to writing, I used Alan Sitomer’s method for teaching short-response writing

that he outlines in his book Mastering Short-Response Writing: Claim It! Cite It! Cement It!

Sitomer argues that students should master the skill of writing a short-response answer rather

than focusing on writing essays and papers. Many of my students struggle to write a full

paragraph so this writing process was useful in going back to the basics of constructing a solid

written response.

For the lesson about author’s purpose, I decided to use a gradual release model for the

lesson. I began with providing key vocabulary, and guiding students through simple examples

that included visuals. By providing a model and activating students’ prior knowledge, they had

more confidence going into the guided practice and independent practice. Students moved on

from visuals to short pieces of text (1-2 sentences) for the guided practice portion. The

independent portion of the lesson and the exit ticket served as a formative assessment so I could

make note of who needed more help. The whiteboard activity allowed me to see which students

were successful and which needed more individualized instruction. The students also said they

enjoyed using the whiteboards because it was interactive and felt like a game. Students were able

to receive immediate feedback about their answer and increase their understanding. This lesson

was taught before reading a series of texts including persuasive and informative articles.

In the second lesson, students completed a close read of a short story they had read the

day before, “The War of the Wall” by Toni Cade Bambara. The students were focusing on

character analysis and using textual evidence. We had previously learned characterization and

what to look for in order to complete a character analysis. There were several components to this
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I As A Learner Reflection: May
lesson. First, students completed a close read activity using Pear Deck. Pear Deck was my

favorite resource that I used this semester. The interactive PowerPoint tool engages students,

allows them to see peer responses, and provides checks for understanding. Pear Deck allows the

teacher to see student responses in real time, so I was able to see students’ answers as they typed

and was able to redirect students who were off-track or needed extra assistance. I have also

found that it is beneficial to give students several checks for understanding throughout the

lesson. The anonymity of the self-reflection and responses resulted in higher student engagement

and more thoughtful answers. Many times, when students read, they do not actually comprehend

what they are reading. Breaking down the close read with focus questions that require textual

evidence forces students to wrestle with the text and improve their reading stamina. The second

component of this lesson involved group work and the use of graphic organizers. Graphic

organizers have been a useful tool in helping students to improve their literacy skills. Graphic

organizers like the STEAL chart provide students with an opportunity to complete high level

analysis in a visual way. The gallery walk and group poster also allow students to practice their

speaking and listening skills.

Moving forward, I will continue to use frequent checks for understanding to determine

whether students feel confident that they are mastering the material. I will also continue to use

online platforms like NewsELA and Commonlit to find interesting texts that my students can

engage with. I would like to continue using Sitomer’s short-response writing method to help my

students improve their writing skills.


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I As A Learner Reflection: May

References and Resources

Nevada Department of Education (2018). Nevada Academic Content Standards for

English Language Arts. Retrieved from http://doe.nv.gov

Select stories for use in the classroom provided by Commonlit. (2018).

Retrieved from http://commonlit.org

Select articles for use in the classroom provided by NewsELA (2018).

Retrieved from http://newsela.com

Select stories and articles for use in the classroom provided by ReadWorks (2018).

Retrieved from http://readworks.org

Sitomer, A. (2016). Mastering Short-Response Writing: Claim It! Cite It! Cement It! New

York, NY: Scholastic Professional.