Saturday, September 8, 2012

My Student's Literacy

            When I discovered that I would have an assignment where I would implement a survey, activity or questionnaire in order to learn the literacy habits, strengths and struggles of my students, the task seemed daunting. My biggest question was how I would complete this activity and collect the information I needed and also what I would do once I had that information. I found an online resource when researching assessment options that had a survey made to answer these very questions, although I still felt like it needed more. I gave my students a free-response section where I asked them what they felt their learning strengths and weaknesses to be and also what they felt a good student was. I did this so that I could not only have their input, but also that I may determine how well they write. Lastly, I included a reading comprehension section to determine their learning capabilities. Through this assessment, I learned an incredible amount about my students. I discovered what they felt their capabilities were in the classroom and thus the areas I could be an aide, and I learned what they felt about themselves.

            One area I noticed that I could help my students improve was in their writing. While the majority of my students stated that they could summarize their reading, roughly the same amount of students said only sometimes are they able to respond to their readings through activities involving writing. Furthermore, the same proportion of students, approximately 62%, stated that they believe that they are good writers on only some occasions. In addition, only 50% of the class said that they could use proper grammar and spelling during writing assessments. From these results as well as from the writing assessments, my students struggle with their writing abilities. One way I believe I may help my students with this is through peer review and corrections. Having the opportunity to have their work reviewed for grammar and spelling but also for the content and then being able to correct it, allows them to see the areas they need work. Furthermore, simply practicing can aide in growth. The more a student writes, the better writer they may become.

            Reading didn’t appear to be an area of concern among my students. While only half of the students felt they could always locate key information from readings, the reading assessment and survey displayed that they have good reading skills. They majority of my students felt they could navigate their way around a textbook as well as alter their reading pace depending on how difficult the material. Furthermore, the majority of my students felt they were good readers. One aspect of the assessment that did surprise me was that the 65% of my students do not always consult a dictionary when coming across a word they don’t understand. A few students had even responded that they never consult a dictionary to determine the definition of an unknown word. However few responses I received such as those, it concerns me because vocabulary is a significant portion of science and understanding term is essential to understanding key concepts in the subject area. These responses illustrate to me that I need to spend time going over vocabulary in the textbook. I have thought of making a word wall in my classroom of key vocabulary terms and these results only increased my desire to do so.

            I am very pleased I implemented this self-assessment in my classroom. As a practicing educator, I think it is imperative to understand where your student’s literacy skills are. You may not be able to fully provide what they need in a classroom if you don’t first understand where they are. Because of this survey, I feel I will be better prepared to provide the educational tools and resources my students need to succeed in their studies.