Transforming Literacy Learning: Action Research by a Reading Specialist
Presentation at National Youth-at-Risk Conference
Three teachers completing their Reading Specialist M.Ed. degree developed an action research plan centered around literacy instruction throughout the course of the semester. Students analyzed the validity, reliability, and personal bias inherent in their action research study; developed a literature review on a research topic; implemented a plan for conducting action research; and applied evaluation criteria to their own project.
Presenters will explain insights that they have gained from the action research process that will influence their pedagogy and instructional practices moving forward. The first portion of the presentation highlights increasing the reading proficiency of students with autism spectrum disorder in regards to accuracy, comprehension, and fluency when reading informational texts. These goals were based on schema theory, and pursued by first developing necessary background knowledge and vocabulary through related fictional stories. The second action research study examines how confidence and accountability are key components to promoting independence in student reading growth. This study identified how to cultivate student independence in their literacy growth. The research is dependent on comprehension strategies, using assessment reading sheets, student journals and reading logs, student interviews, and independent book selection. The third section of the presentation centers on motivational strategies through a book club setting to increase social interaction between high school students. In addition, the study promotes self-efficacy and self-esteem.
Brief Program Description
The presentation will highlight literacy-based action research projects by three Reading Specialist M.Ed. graduate students. The topics of using fictional texts to increase the accuracy, comprehension, and fluency of students with autism spectrum disorder when reading informational passages; infusion of dialogue and motivational strategies to promote self-efficacy and reading success; and strategies to cultivate student independence in reading growth were explored. Tools for attendees to implement the process of action research in their own classroom will be outlined.
The presentation will begin with a discussion of the nature of action research. Participants will identify goals and rationale for action research and discuss the potential impact of action research on their teaching practice. In addition, development of an action research plan (area of focus statement, variables, research questions, intervention/ innovation, timeline, data collection ideas) will be facilitated.
The presentation will proceed to three vignettes that showcase action research in practice by three Reading Specialist M.Ed. graduate students.
1. Struggling readers often find informational texts increasingly difficult to decode and comprehend. Many of these same students often lack sufficient background knowledge about fundamental concepts and vocabulary found within these texts. Conversely, many students enjoy reading fictional texts whose contents and story structures are engaging and predictable. Carefully selected stories may also contain similar vocabulary and even factual information, which when learned, can transcend to improvements when reading related informational texts. Therefore, carefully selected fictional texts are valuable tools for developing necessary schemata for informational reading.
2. Confidence and accountability are key components to promoting independence in student reading growth. This study identified how to cultivate student independence in their reading growth. The research is dependent on comprehension strategies, using assessment reading sheets, student journals and reading logs, student interviews, and independent book selection.
3. Motivation is a powerful tool that is often overlooked. This study focused on the effect of implementing activities that revolves around peer-interaction and student self-efficacy to promote reading achievement. In a short presentation, the interventions used in this study will be shared with educators in hopes of propelling the teaching of motivational strategies. Viewers will be asked to participate in a pre and post questionnaire and reflective journal opportunity before and following the session. They will also be involved in an ongoing discussion throughout the session just as the participants in the study experienced.
Action research is based on a process that involves the following process (Mills, 2018)-
1. Write an area-of- focus statement.
2. Define the variables.
3. Develop research questions.
4. Describe the intervention or innovation.
5. Describe the membership of the action research group.
6. Describe negotiations that need to be undertaken.
7. Develop a timeline.
8. Develop a statement of resources.
9. Develop data collection ideas.
The proposal is informed by research that showcases the following: (1) The results of the students’ informational running records demonstrated increased word accuracy and comprehension after reading a series of fictional texts. In regards to fluency, intonation and phrasing showed significant improvements as well; however, as these factors improved, it is notable that oral reading fluency rates slightly declined. (2) Building confidence in emergent readers is important to cultivating student motivations to independently read. Conducting interviews and using student journals provide opportunity for positive constructive feedback. The use of reading logs as a daily accountability measure ensures students are held accountable for their reading growth. (3) Student-led discussion of literature shows evidence of a deeper understanding of the text through justifying question and citing evident. Students read more independently to be prepared for this type of peer-interaction. Through the written cues recorded in their journals, students were motivated to analyze the text at a deeper level.
National Youth-at-Risk Conference
Katz, Anne, Mitchell Sexton, Krissy Hamilton, Penny Griffin.
"Transforming Literacy Learning: Action Research by a Reading Specialist."
Curriculum, Foundations, & Reading Faculty Presentations.