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READING COMPREHENSION STRATEGIES FOR STRUGGLING, ADOLESCENT READERS
ACTION RESEARCH PROJECT
C&I 600: GRADUATE SEMINAR
WESTERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY
Table of Contents
Abstract . 4
Chapter 1: Introduction
Contextual Factors.. 6
Atypical Student One.. 8
Atypical Student Two. 9
Atypical Student Three... 10
Impact of Teaching Skills on Student Learning. 11
Statement of the Problem 12
Chapter 2: Review of Literature
Reading Comprehension Strategies for Struggling, Adolescent Readers. 13
Chapter 3: Implementation of the Unit and Analysis of Data
Introduction of Chapter 25
Description of Unit.. 25
Accommodations for Atypical Students.. 26
Measuring the Impact of New Technique 27
Analysis of Pre-Assessment Data 27
Analysis of Formative Data. 36
Day One .. 36
Day Two.. 38
Day Three.... 40
Day Four.. 43
Day Five.. 46
Day Six 49
Day Seven 52
Day Eight 55
Day Nine. 58
Day Ten... 60
Formative Assessment Tables. 62
Analysis of Post-Assessment Data.. 68
Chapter 4: Summary of Results
Reflection on Unit and Teaching. 82
Examination of Research Hypothesis.. 86
Appendix A: Journal Entries.. 92
Appendix B: Copy of Pre-Assessment 103
Appendix C: Answer Key for Pre-Assessment.. 134
Appendix D: Copies of Atypical Students Pre-Assessments 141
Appendix E: Copies of Atypical Students Unit Formative Assessments. 166
Appendix F: Copy of Post-Assessment. 229
Appendix G: Answer Key for Post-Assessment 244
Appendix H: Copies of Atypical Students Post-Assessments.. 253
Chapter 2: Reading Comprehension Strategies 4
Research dealing with the reading comprehension of struggling, adolescent students is limited.
Research that studies the effects of various teaching methods such as the direct, explicit
instruction of reading strategies, the use of different types of technology to supplement reading
instruction, the use of classroom talk moves to facilitate discussion, and the importance of
fluency instruction and its influence on comprehension. There is statistical data to support these
specific strategies and techniques to help struggling students in the upper elementary and middle
school classroom. This action research project studies the effects of using direct fluency
instruction on a group of 22 lower performing sixth-grade students in order to increase their
Chapter 1: Introduction
In order to understand any action research project, it is important to understand the students,
classroom, and school involved. Each school has its individual characteristics that make it its
own, therefore it is necessary to understand the unique characteristics of Mrs. Kelly Celanias
sixth-grade reading class and Hamilton Elementary School.
I currently teach at Hamilton Elementary School in the Hamilton Community
Consolidated School District #328. Hamilton, Illinois is located on the Mississippi River where
Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri meet. Hamilton is considered a small, rural, bedroom community.
Our district is made up of 654 total students, 363 of which attend Hamilton Elementary.
Hamilton Elementary is a pre-K through sixth-grade building. The rest of the students
attend Hamilton Jr./Sr. High School which is located in a separate building across town.
I currently teach in a departmentalized sixth-grade classroom. I have taught in the
Hamilton Community Consolidated School District for 19 years. I have taught sixth-grade
students for 13 of those years. Our sixth-grade is made up of two sections. I currently teach one
section of reading, two sections of language arts, and two sections of social studies. I service a
total of 41 students.
This project will focus upon my reading class. This class is a homogeneous mixture of
lower achieving reading students. Students were placed in this classroom based upon AIMSweb
results and ISAT testing scores. It is made up of 22 students, 13 males and 9 females. Twenty
of the students are Caucasian. I also have two students of mixed ethnicity. One student is a mix
of Caucasian and Polynesian. Another student is a mix of Caucasian and African-American. I
do not service any second language learners. Three students in my reading class do have IEPs.
One student is learning disabled and receives tutorial services only. The other two students
receive speech therapy services only. None of these students receive any special education
instruction within my classroom.
Because of the lower levels of reading achievement, I do have one paraprofessional in my
reading classroom. According to our latest AIMSweb results, 10 of my 22 students are below
standards. Six of the 22 students are diagnosed with ADHD. I also service five Title I students.
These students receive Tier II instruction through the RtI model with the Title I instructor for an
extra 20 minutes each day, five days a week. Eleven, 50% of my students, receive free or
reduced lunch and 14 of the students live in a single-parent home due to divorce and other
causes. Currently, Hamilton is suffering a high unemployment rate due to the local economy, as
well as the current lockout at Roquette America, a factory located in Keokuk, Iowa. I am also
servicing two students who are at risk of being retained based upon their first semester grades.
Based on this information, I do have several behaviorally challenged students. Because of these
challenges, we often do small group work and try to keep activities differentiated based on
learner interest, style, and readiness.
This year we have begun RtI at Hamilton Elementary. We currently have a 90 minute
reading period, five days a week. To coordinate with the RtI model, we have also implemented
PBIS this year. These two systems are both serving to meet the needs of my students. The 90
minute reading period is a change for the students. Up until this year they have only ever had a
50 minute reading block. It has taken some adjustments. We are also encouraging the Cardinal
Way, our PBIS model, within the classroom to reward positive behaviors. This is very important
due to the behavior challenges within my classroom. We also use AIMSweb at Hamilton
Elementary to test and collect data on fluency. Not only do I benchmark my students three times
a year, I also progress monitor them every other week. By doing this I am able to monitor their
growth and discern which students need more strategic interventions.
Overall my reading class is very needy. I have students who have moved around, seen
their parents in jail, suffer from ADHD, and come from homes where education is not high on
their priority list. Out of 22 students, I would say that only a handful have homes where school
comes first. Developmentally, 10 of my students fall below and well below average based on
our winter AIMSweb benchmarking. The other 12 are in the bottom half of the average range.
The class has its challenges but the students are making progress. Most are at or above their
AIMSweb goals and continue to improve. My challenge is to find ways to continue to make
those improvements happen.
Throughout this project I will study not only my entire reading class, but I will also focus
specifically on three atypical students in my classroom. They each have unique characteristics
that make them ideal candidates to study in depth. By studying these three students along with
my entire class, I hope to better understand what my class needs in order to become better
Atypical Student One
Student 1 is an 11 year old male. This student is my student with an IEP. His IEP is for a
specific learning disability in reading. He also qualifies for free/reduced lunch and lives in a
single parent home with his biological mother and