The Missouri Reader Vol. 41, Issue 1 - Page 53


Comprehending expository text is highly dependent on the reader using background knowledge to form logical relationships among the presented ideas (Williams, 2005).

Classroom Close-up

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by Carly Estlund


individual strengths and needs…” (p. 281). This instructional strategy allows for teachers to teach whole group lessons with a variety of strategies and skills, but then tailor lessons for individual students to promote deeper thinking and

meaning related to a text that allows students to be proficient readers. Guided reading and reading conferences have many commonalities. Among them students reading at their own ability levels, instruction is differentiated, each is an extension of whole group learning, and each allows for more focused individualized instruction that promotes deeper meaning of texts. Both instructional strategies can be used to monitor the growth of comprehension and fluency within a classroom, as well as compare which strategy showed students having the greatest gains. However, small-group instruction only focuses on finite skills in reading, whereas reading conferences focus on the student making meaning and creating a reading lifestyle. Reading conferences allow for student choice and one to one instruction between teacher and student. Guided reading does not allow student choice, but rather the teacher choosing the text to promote a deeper understanding of the text.

The research focuses on ten students who received reading instruction from the classroom teacher and also the researcher. The participants, 4th grade students, are best described through data presented in the following tables. Pseudonyms are used for all the students’ names. The data sources included are DIBELS Next Benchmark assessments for fluency, comparing August/Fall scores to December/Winter scores (DIBELS Next, 2011). The comparison is made by analyzing the words correct per minute and the miscues made. To determine the comprehension of students the STAR reading assessment (STAR Reading, 2016) was administered prior to research timeline (August), beginning of research timeline (October), and end of research timeline (December). STAR data was collected in the form of the student’s Individual Reading Level (IRL). For example, if a student scored 4.2, it equated to a comprehension score of an average fourth grade, second month achievement score. Accompanied with the IRL is the Scaled Score of the

student’s performance on the assessment. The data and results are shown below.

The Research

*Prior to the research, all students received reading conferences.

Figure 1- Color Keys