Video Reflection Link
I wanted to excite some of my students about reading and, hopefully, inspire them to practice their reading skills at home. As part of the reading intervention program, students are asked to read easily decodable texts that, to be completely honest, are not exactly the most thrilling tales. Students are expected to reread these passages to practice comprehension and oral reading fluency and prosody. In order to enthuse students about reading, I decided to try alternate texts in class and then create a project whereby students could practice reading with a text that they had chosen.
I went back and forth on whether students should choose their own texts or whether I should select them. In the end, I took a step back and considered the final outcome. What skill did I want students to build for the future? Did I want their choice of book to be dictated for them or did I want them to develop a sense of agency when choosing their own literature? The choice was obvious. I believe it is important for students to choose their own texts to read aloud because this fosters interest and intrinsic motivation. However, I still needed to have some parameters to ensure that they weren’t going to choose a book that was too difficult to read in one sitting. I also was concerned that some students would feel overwhelmed by having an abundance of choice.
I asked the students to choose picturebooks that they felt would be suitable to share with kindergarteners. I was really pleased with how seriously the students took this task. They really kept the audience at the forefront of their minds when selecting texts to share. Some thought of stories that they had enjoyed when they were younger, while others chose stories that they knew had a message that they felt strongly about.
Changes Throughout the Unit
During the pre-planning stages, I had a clear goal in mind: present a novel way for students to work on their fluency and prosody in order to build confidence in their ability to read aloud. As soon as I began the unit, however, my goals shifted. One of the most important things I gained from this project was a deeper understanding of my students’ attitude towards reading for enjoyment. The hard truth is that for many students, reading is not enjoyable. It is something that they have to work hard at and therefore, they will try to avoid reading while at home. In their free time, they will choose to relax after a day of working hard at school. I think we all relate to this feeling.
After these surveys, I expanded my goal by presenting them with a motivating reason to practice their reading skills independently. I only see the students I work with for an hour or two per week which, in all honesty, never feels like enough time. I wanted to foster in them an intrinsic motivation to take control over their learning,
ISTE Standards for Students
When planning this unit, I wanted to hit the following ISTE standards for students:
1: Students leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving, and demonstrating competency in their learning goals, informed by the learning sciences.
1a: Students articulate and set personal learning goals, develop strategies leveraging technology to achieve them and reflect on the learning process itself to improve learning outcomes.
6: Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals.
6a: Students choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication.
6b: Students create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.
6d: Students publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for their intended audiences.
I chose these ISTE standards for students because they seemed to correlate closely with what I wanted the students to achieve. I wanted my students to harness the power of technology in order to work towards their own personal goals. I used a PDCA (Plan Do Check Act) with the students just before our Student-Led Conferences so that they could discuss what they wanted to work on and so that we could develop a plan as to how they could meet their goals. The majority of my students wanted to become stronger readers and so that helped lead the conversation as to how we could achieve that.
When we discussed methods of achieving these goals, my students recognized that they needed to practice reading at home. This allowed me to present the idea of creating a read aloud to share. I felt as though it had to be the student’s choice as to whether or not they participated in this project, as they would be doing the majority of the work at home, by themselves and with their family’s support.
Then came the method of sharing. Once I began to talk about the project with my students, they were all concerned that their faces would be seen and that other students would see them. We discussed ways that we could avoid this such as using images, rather than showing the students, while they read aloud. This is where I made a mistake, but more on that later.
ISTE Standards for Educators
6a: Foster a culture where students take ownership of their learning goals and outcomes in both independent and group settings.
I began the unit by having students perform a cold read of their chosen book while being recorded. I was then able to chart progress by comparing recordings of their reads. I was pleased to see the progress that the majority of the students made in terms of their reading fluency. More telling, however, was in the interviews with students at the end of the project. All of the students said that they had ended up reading more often as a result of this project. Goal achieved, right? Well, not yet.
The final goal was for this unit to provide students with the motivation to continue their reading practice, once it was completed. I took another survey after two weeks of finishing the unit and the results were far more telling. Two of the students I had been working with had kept up with their reading practice and one student had even started to make a follow-up video on his own. With all of the students now I have had meetings to plan what next steps they can take to achieve their goals. I feel as though many of my students are taking grat strides in taking control of their learning and choosing the areas they feel are important for them to work on.
Things that went well
First and foremost each student who took part in my final project read more frequently than they had at the beginning. When I spoke to the participants, they talked about how they found the process motivating and it galvanized them to practice reading at home. I really felt too that this project allowed the students to take more control over their own learning than if I had just set them reading homework. They identified areas that they wanted to work on, as well as, how they could do that and this project served as a means for them to take charge of their learning.
The students’ reflections were good to hear too, especially as a number of students admitted they had fun reading. I was really happy to hear about the positive reactions they had to reading books.
I also really liked seeing the ways students bonded while editing their videos. Many were familiar with iMovie but for those that weren’t the other students in the class were happy to show and teach. This collaboration was not something I had planned for, but it was great to see the students work together and share knowledge with one another.
Things that I would change
I would have liked to have more opportunities for students to give feedback to one another. I feel as though I could have set up anonymous feedback opportunities using Google forms so that my students could continue developing their performances. Initially, I worried that the students would take constructive criticism too personally, but on reflection, I think it would have been a valuable addition to this project.
I would really like to have had more time for this unit. By the time I started, there were only six weeks left and, in all honesty, I needed an additional four weeks, as then students could have recorded more than one book by the time I wrote this final post.
I had a student ask me during their final reflection why they couldn’t just read aloud in front of the kindergarten class.
I asked him if that’s something he wanted to do and he shook his head straight away, “I don’t want to do that, they’ll know it’s me reading and I don’t want them to know if I make a mistake.”
I then asked him if he thought it was okay that they would potentially hear him read, without knowing it was him. He responded with, “Yeah, that’s good.”
I feel as though by embracing tech for this unit, I was able to provide an opportunity for my struggling readers to share their work in a safe way that they were in control of. There was no final performance, if they made a mistake they could record their story again, interestingly though none of them did. I’m proud of what they accomplished and their reflections on the steps they have taken towards meeting their goals.