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Teaching Reading to an English Language Learner: A Case Study Amanda Clarkson TE 846 Brandon is a nine-year-old student in my fourth grade

class. He is an identical twin and his brother is in my class as well. Both boys are very similar in terms of their literacy knowledge. Brandon is a fluent reader who has fairly good grades but often struggles to comprehend what he reads. I attribute this to the fact that he is a second language learner. Based on the results of his English Language Proficiency Assessment, Brandon qualifies for additional language services, as does his brother. Both boys received nearly identical scores on their assessments, and both received the lowest scores in the area of reading comprehension. Similarly, the boys received identical scores on the NWEA test, an assessment my school uses to determine whether a child is on grade level and to track their growth over the course of the school year. Brandon and his brothers scores showed that they were slightly below grade level (fall of fourth grade rather than winter of fourth grade). In the area of reading, Brandons lowest strand was again comprehension. Close behind was the area of word knowledge which could be a contributing factor to his lower comprehension as well. I chose Brandon as the focus of my study because I believe too often English Language Learners to slip through the cracks. Brandon speaks fluent English, he can pronounce English words, and he can even recall information from a text he hears or reads. However, it is clear through his daily work in class and a variety of assessments that his comprehension suffers. This most likely is because his English vocabulary is limited. His parents speak purely Spanish at home, so while he has been immersed in the English language at school since preschool he does not have a constant input of the language. He has also had less exposure to a variety of English

vocabulary than most other students in his grade. Because of this lack of vocabulary, his reading comprehension suffers, and it is possible that his understanding in all content areas suffers as a result. With a deficient English vocabulary he could be struggling to fully comprehend materials in other academic subjects. Because outwardly Brandon appears to be completely fluent in English, it would be easy to believe that he is in fact proficient in the language. However, his ELPA scores and daily class work show otherwise. Brandon is my focus in this case study because of my passion for working with English Language Learners and desire to pinpoint ways in which they could be supported in the classroom. I believe that explicitly teaching vocabulary skills as well as reading comprehension strategies are two important ways to support ELLs literacy development in the classroom.

Lesson 1: Using Context Clues In the first lesson I chose to teach Brandon the skill of using context clues to understand the meaning of unknown vocabulary. I set aside a 20 minute period to complete the lesson. First, I gave Brandon a pre-assessment. The assessment required him to write his own definition of the words ancestors, reservations, and heritage. The assessment also required him to write each word in a sentence (Artifact 1). After giving the assessment it was clear that Brandon already had a strong understanding of the word ancestors so I chose to omit it from the lesson and the post-assessment. Once the pre-assessment was complete, I asked Brandon about some of the strategies he used when he was reading a text and did not understand a word. He said he looked at the other sentences around the word to help him (context clues), as well as looking for little words in bigger words (root words). Brandon is already familiar with the term context clues

from other lessons in our class, and I explained that I would be showing him a new way to determine the meaning of a word using context clues in a graphic organizer. I opened our Social Studies book and read two paragraphs aloud, in which contained the word glacier. Once I had finished reading I showed Brandon how to make a concept-ofdefinition diagram (Stahl, 1992) by putting the word glacier in a box in the middle of my paper (Artifact 2). I draw a line from the box toward the top of the paper labeled what is this? Coming from each side I drew horizontal lines labeling one examples and the other nonexamples. Finally, I drew another vertical line towards the bottom of the page labeled what it is like. I started with the what is this? category, modeling how to write the overall category in which the term fitsin this case, a landform or land covering. Next I went to the examples and non-examples portion. I filled in the examples portion with places where you would find glaciers (or used to find them). I showed Brandon how to use both the text and background knowledge to fill in this part. For example, the text read that Michigan had glaciers which formed the Great Lakes, so I wrote down Michigan. I then told Brandon that using my background knowledge of what I know about Antarctica, I know that Antarctica is a place where glaciers are found also, and listed this as another example. Brandon then gave me the terms for the non-examples portion after I explained that it is anything that is not considered a glacier or where glaciers are not found. Using the text, he determined that a grassy area is not the same thing as a glacier, and using his background knowledge he told be Mexico is a place where glaciers are not found (although I told him this would be true of where he once lived in Mexico; in the high mountains there actually are glaciers). Lastly, I modeled how to fill in the final category of what its like by using adjectives to describe a glacier using the five senses. I showed Brandon how the

photographs in the text could also help me with this portion of the diagram. I asked for Brandons input and he generated the words big and icy. Once I had modeled how to fill in the graphic organizer, I told Brandon that he would be creating the same organizer for the words reservations and heritage. I reminded him that he would be using the text he reads to help him, and that his background knowledge could help him too. Brandon turned to a different page in the text book and read aloud five paragraphs containing the two terms. He then drew the concept-to-definition graphic organizer, starting with the word reservations (Artifact 3). Brandon struggled to come up with words for the first category, what is this? I prompted him by giving him some choices (Are reservations people? Animals? Places?) Once I said places, Brandon was able to generate several words for this category, as evidenced on his sheet. Brandon also had some difficulty coming up with examples, so I directed him to some other text features on his page besides the actual text itself, including a map at the top of the page. Brandon used the map to list some counties where Native American reservations are found. Using his background knowledge, he determined that the city he lives in (Lansing) does not have any reservations and recorded it under the non-examples category. Finally, Brandon struggled to come up with ideas for the whats it like? category. I prompted him by reminding him that he could use describing words, or adjectives. I told him to picture what it would be like to be on a Native American reservation. What would it look like, or sound like? After these prompts Brandon was able to come up with several words describing what a reservation is like. At this point, we had gone beyond my 20 minute allotted time for the lesson because Brandon took a lot longer than expected to complete the graphic organizer. I decided to give him a break and stop the lesson for now. We resumed again the following day, only this time I

decided to let Brandon complete the last graphic organizer completely on his own. I sensed that my presence at the table, sitting directly next to him while he was trying to work, was distracting, most likely because he was worried about writing down an incorrect answer. This time Brandon completed the concept-to-definition graphic organizer using the word heritage completely on his own without me around him or guiding and prompting him (Artifact 4). I was pleased to see that he finished much quicker and was successful in completing all parts of the diagram. I did notice that for the section labeled non-examples he wrote down the word objects. I asked him about this, and we discussed the fact that objects are not exactly heritage, but they can represent or show someones heritage, like the necklace he wears of the Virgin Mary that he received on his first communion in Mexico. After our short discussion I gave Brandon the postassessment (Artifact 5), which was the exact same as the pre-assessment only I had crossed on the section dealing with the word ancestors as this was no longer a part of our lesson. This concluded the lesson on using context clues. After the lesson was completed I began analyzing the data I collected. Something I noticed immediately when I gave Brandon the pre-assessment was that he had most likely had some exposure to these vocabulary terms. As previously noted, he actually already knew what the word ancestors meant based on the definition he gave and the context of the sentence he used. When he defined the word reservation, he wrote, to hold it for you. His sentences read, Some people hold reservations at hotels. Clearly, Brandon knows one meaning of the word reservations, it just happens to be a different meaning that the one the Social Studies text is referring to. Brandon also has some idea of the word heritage, as he wrote something old as a definition. It seems he understands that heritage has to do with the past, although he doesnt fully grasp how it has to do with the past or things that are old (e.g. traditions). As evidenced by his

sentence, which reads, My grandparents are very heritage, he believes that heritage is a verb rather than a noun. Still, it appears that he has had at least some sort of exposure to the word prior to this pre-assessment. Because of all of my prompting in the first concept-to-definition organizer it is hard to determine what Brandon truly learned from reading the text and using its context to determine the meaning of the word reservations. In order words, since my objective was for him to use context clues to determine the meaning and correctly define words, my interjecting into this processespecially in the first category where I gave him choicesmay not be the most accurate measurement of the use of context clues. However, based on what he did write, it appears that his understanding of reservations as a place where people live was solidified after reading the text. And although I may have prompted him on each of the categories, I never explicitly gave him an answerI simply gave him guiding questions or ideas to further his thinking about what he read. His understanding of the word is more clearly shown in his postassessment. His definition, stating In Chippewa conty and wayne conty there many reservations [sic]. His definition is a big group of people at one place. The only concept lacking in his definition is the fact that it is not just any people living in one place; rather, it is specifically Native Americans. Further use of explicit instruction through subsequent Social Studies lessons would clear this up for Brandon, but the use of context clues and the concept-ofdefinition diagram was not itself enough to clear up this misconception. Looking at Brandons second graphic organizer, it is clear that he gained some knowledge about the term heritage through his reading of the text. This time it is easier to determine what was learned from the text because he completed the diagram completely on his own without any prompting from me. Brandon was correctly able to identify that heritage is

where you came from, like a country. His examples of heritage are Hispanic, German, and Italian, showing that he was able to identify a heritage not linked to one single country (Hispanichis own heritage). He recognized that people and objects themselves are not heritage (evidenced in his non-examples category) but that they have a heritage or represent one. Finally, he shows his understanding that people can have different heritages when he states under what its like that heritage is has to do with people who are different. His post-assessment demonstrates this understanding as well. He writes that heritage means were you come from or family [sic] and his sentence states, My familys heritage is Mexican [sic]. Unlike his preassessment, where he used the word heritage as a verb, he is now using the word as a noun and using it correctly in context. As I reflect on my lesson, I realize there are certain aspects of the lesson that I would do differently in the future. One aspect I would change is the fact that there was no follow-up discussion of the lesson. Brandon read by himself, completed the diagram by himself, and then took an assessment by himself, all without sharing or conferring with anyone else. I believe a think-pair-share model would have been very effective for Brandon and would be effective for a whole-class lesson. Brandon could have completed the same process described above, only after completion he could have shared his ideas with a partner. After conferring with a partner he could have gained more knowledge and ideas, as well as confidence in his understanding. Finally, all students in the class could have shared out and come to a common understanding of each of the terms. Stahl (2003) explains that this type of discussion is essential. He writes, For semantic mapping, and other techniques, it is important that whole-class discussion is used. Such discussion seems to be an especially effective medium for vocabulary learning, because, in the classroom interaction, preconceptions and misconceptions can be discussed openly and clarified

(p. 237). As previously mentioned, Brandon did have a misconception (or lack of conception) with the word reservations. He did not identify reservations as being specific to Native American groups. A whole class discussion could have added to his understanding. Though there are not misconceptions identified in Brandons understanding of the word heritage, a wholeclass discussion could certainly make his definition and understanding of the word more robust. It could help Brandon and his classmates think of more examples of the term and solidify the understanding that is already there. Another way I would have adjusted the lesson would be to have a follow-up lesson on the word reservations. Brandon already had a strong understanding of one of the definitions of reservations, as in hotel or restaurant reservations. I believe that looking more carefully at the root word reserve and identifying other ways and places this word is used Brandon would have a deeper understanding of the word in general. For example, the word reserve is used in cookbooks. I would explain that it means to set some of the ingredients aside. I would ask Brandon, How does this definitionto set something asiderelate to a hotel reservation? How does it relate to a Native American reservation? Brandon would then realize that in a hotel reservation they set a room aside; with a Native American reservation they set land aside for people to live on. Looking at root words, analyzing their meanings, and seeing how words with these root words are related can be an effective way to teach vocabulary and can deepen students understandings of the words being taught (Cunningham, 1998). In this case, it would also build on the background knowledge that Brandon already has. Lesson 2: Making Inferences I chose to teach my second lesson on the comprehension strategy of making inferences. When thinking of comprehension strategies to use, making inferences is one that came to mind

because it requires more higher-level thinkingsomething that can be difficult for English Language Learners who are still navigating their way through the new language. I set aside 25 minutes for this lesson. Before the lesson, I gave Brandon a pre-assessment in which he had to read a short text and then answer a question about the text that required an inference to be made (Artifact 6). I used a rubric (Shell Education Publishing, p. 54) to assess his answer and found that Brandon was able to make an inference but had some trouble explaining how he came to the inference (Artifact 7). More specifically, Brandon was able to correctly answer the question and give text support to support his answer, but he did not use background knowledge to comment further on how this text support helped him answer the question. I began by showing Brandon a photograph of a car with a broken window. I asked Brandon, What happened in this photograph? I told him that there was no right or wrong answerhe needed to use his best guess. He started by saying that the window got broken because a rock accidentally hit the car. I said that I agreed that the window was broken by something because I could see the shattered glass in the photograph, but pushed him to think about what he knew from his background knowledge (a term already familiar to him) that caused him to think it might have been a rock that broke the window. He replied, saying that one time he was playing with rocks and one accidentally hit his dads car and scratched the window. I asked him to think of another cause of the broken window. He said someone tried to break in the window. After being questioned again about why he thought this, Brandon said that he saw a TV show where someone smashed in a window to steal something out of the car. Brandon came up with one final reason why the window might be shattered. He said that maybe someone locked his or her keys in the car and broke the window to try and get the keys. With prompting, he said

that one time his neighbor locked her keys in the car. Although she didnt break the window in, maybe someone else would have to get their keys. I explained to Brandon that he used two things to talk about what happened in the photograph. He used clues from the photograph (a broken window, glass on the ground) as well as background knowledge (playing with rocks, the TV show, and his neighbors experience) to come up with an answer. He used something called an inference. I told Brandon that when we make inferences from a text we used the same two thingsclues from the text and background knowledge. I told him that we would be reading a passage and afterwards he would need to answer a couple questions by making an inference. I read The Birthday Surprise as Brandon followed along (Artifact 8). When we had finished, I drew two graphic organizers on a piece of paper that showed text clues + background knowledge = inference (Artifact 9). I first asked Brandon, Why did the students want Mr. Stinton to feel special? Brandon answered by saying, Because he cleans up their messes. I asked him to point to where it said that in the text. Interestingly, this was not a detail from the text. Brandon had actually made an inference by using the text to determine that Mr. Stinton was a custodian, and using his background knowledge of what custodians do, concluding that Mr. Stinton cleaned up after the kids and they wanted to thank him for it. After explaining this Brandon, I did ask him to go back and find evidence from the text. He said, He know everyones birthday and gives them cards and cookies. He was able to point to this detail in the text. I then asked him to use background knowledge to help him draw an inference. He had some trouble, so I prompted him by asking, When was a time someone did something nice for you and you wanted to do something nice back? He replied, When someone gave me part of their lunch I wanted to give them some of mine. His final inference was, Since Mr. Stinton is nice to the students they want to make him


feel special. I pointed out that this sentence was not directly from the textthis is a sentence Brandon came up with on his own after using the text and his background knowledge. This shows that he made an inference. Next I asked Brandon the question, How did Emma feel at the beginning of the story? He immediately replied sad. I wrote this in the second graphic organizer under Inference, and then asked him to go back and find a text clue. Brandon looked at the story and said, No one knew it was her birthday. After writing this in the graphic organizer I asked, Why does that make someone sad? What from your background knowledge makes you think that she feels sad? Brandon replied, Sometimes my parents dont throw birthday parties for me. I asked, How does that make you feel? He replied, Sad. I recorded his answer in the background knowledge box. Once again, I pointed out that is does not tell us in the text that Emma feels sad; we must use an inference to come to that conclusion. To end the lesson, I gave Brandon a post-assessment (Artifact 10). It was very similar to the pre-assessment in that Brandon had to read a short text and answer a question that required an inference to be made. Once again, I used the inferring rubric to assess his understanding (Artifact 11). Looking back to analyze the lesson that I taught, I first look at the pre-assessment. According to the pre-assessment Brandon was already able to make inferences and identify what in the text causes him to make that inference. When asked, How did Mark feel about being the first student at the bus stop? How do you know? Brandon answered, Mark was scared because he swallowed hard and his hands were shakeing and he talked with a shaky voice to his friends. He heard an ooooh sound two [sic]. Though he answered the question correctly and used text support, he did not refer to his background know or explain why this text support meant that Mark was scared. I gave him a 4 on the rubric (out of 5) which states that the student Draws


conclusions and/or makes predictions and can explain the source of the conclusion or prediction in text (Shell Educational Publishing, p. 3). Later, Brandon inadvertently demonstrated the same level of understanding when he inferred that the students wanted to help Mr. Stinton because he cleaned up after them. This detail was not in the text, but after reading that Mr. Stinton was a custodian Brandon inferred that he cleaned up after the students. Like his answer on the preassessment, Brandons use of text clues was clear. However, while his use of background knowledge was evident because of his correct answer, it was not explicitly stated. My goal was to get Brandon to be able to answer a question and receive a 5 based on the rubric, which states, Develops predictions, interpretations, and/or conclusions about the text that include connections between the text and the readers background knowledge, ideas, or beliefs that enhance the overall meaning of the text and make it memorable to the reader. Discusses why/how inferences help him or her understand better. The part that I particularly felt that Brandon was lacking on his response was connecting what he read in the text to his background knowledge in order to make the inference, and making this clear in his answer. In the post-assessment, Brandon was asked, Why did Alex think his mom wouldnt let him have cookies after he showed her his math test? How do you know? Brandon responded, He got a bad grade on it. Because when my cusens test is bad his parents just say try harder next time [sic]. Again Brandon was able to answer the question by using a detail from the text (He got a bad grade on it.) Unlike his previous answer, Brandon also used background knowledge to support his answer (when my cusens test is bad his parents just say try harder next time). However, this background knowledgethough related to the situation in the textdoes not support his answer or help him enhance the meaning of the text. In the text Alex thought his mom wouldnt let him have cookies because of his grade. The background knowledge that


Brandon used was somewhat irrelevant; when his cousin does poorly in school, his parents tell him to try harder, rather than punishing him. A more appropriate connection to his background knowledge would be a situation where he or someone he knew was punished or lost privileges as the result of performing poorly or not meeting a parents expectation. This would make the connection between the poor grade mentioned in the text and why Alex thought he wouldnt be able to have a cookie as a result. Because of this mismatch, I gave Brandon another 4 on the rubric. After reflecting on the lesson, especially on the fact that Brandon received the same score on both the pre- and post- assessment according to the rubric I used, I realized that I should have use the pre-assessment to guide my instruction more. In other words, it seems like the biggest problem with the outcome of the lesson was that Brandon simply had trouble making relevant connections to the text. Seeing that there was no background knowledge mentioned or any connection made in his first assessment should have led me to focus on the strategy of making connections first. This became even more evident during guided practice, though I didnt realize it at the time. In the first example where Brandon was asked why the students wanted to make Mr. Stinton feel special, Brandon had a lot of difficulty coming up with evidence from his own life. I had to prompt him to think of a time when someone did something nice for him so he wanted to do something nice back, which caused him to think of the time someone shared their lunch with him. In the second example during guided practice, Brandon was able to make a connection without prompting with me and the connection was relevant. However, after further reflection I realized that the connection he made was very closely related to what happened in the text. Both the text clues and his example from his own life were related to birthdays. When I look at his post-assessment I notice the same thingboth the text clues and the evidence from


his background knowledge were related to getting bad test scores, only this time the background knowledge happens to be irrelevant in making the connection needed to respond to the question. Brandon simply used any sort of connection he could make with the text (birthdays and test grades) rather than a connection that furthered his understanding of the text and the question being asked. In this case with my inferring lesson, I assumed Brandon knew more than he actually did. I assumed that he already had a strong grasp of using background knowledge to make connections when clearly there was a gap in his understanding. Ironically, I chose Brandon as the subject for this case study because I feel that this happens often with ELLsthey are assumed to be proficient when in actuality there is a disconnect between what they appear to know and their actual language abilities. This lesson may or may not have been an issue with language, but either way it was ineffective because of this lack of understanding in making connections. Ehren (2005) writes, Unless teachers employ instructional practices that support the solid construction of background knowledge, other reading comprehension efforts will prove to be ineffective (p. 312). To expand on this, students must also have solid understanding of more lower-level comprehension strategies in order to effectively use strategies that require higher-level thinking (such as making inferences). Thinking back to my reasoning for choosing making inferences as the focus of my lesson seems almost comical. I chose it because it is a more difficult task for students to employ. Why, then, when I start with something difficult rather than thinking about how I would scaffold learning beforehand? Once again, it is because of my assumption that making connections between a text and background knowledge was a skill Brandon already had acquired. Teaching this lesson was definitely a reminder of the importance of careful planning


and thoughtfulness in how I sequence my instruction, as well as using assessment to drive instruction. Conclusion This case study has reminded me how important it is to use research, formative assessments, trial-and-error, and deliberate reflection in order to have the most effective literacy teaching practice. Implementing all of these factors takes time and practice. While teaching these two lessons was a good start, it is important that I continue using research-based methods and adjust what I am doing according to student feedback. This case study also reinforced the idea that not every lesson I teach will be perfect. In fact, with some lessons (such as the making inferences lesson) the most valuable thing achieved is simply finding areas where reteaching is necessary and where students can be better supported academically. Overall, I am reminded that reflection is perhaps the most beneficial way to continue growing as a teacher and discovering areas for improvement as well as areas that are already successful.


Assessing Reading Comprehension Strategies. Shell Educational Publishing, 54-82. Cunningham, P. M. (1998). The multisyllabic word dilemma: Helping students build meaning, spelling, and reading "big" words. Reading and Writing Quarterly, 14, 189-218. Ehren, B. J. (2005). Looking for evidence-based practice in reading comprehension instruction. Topics in Language Disorders, 25, 310-321. Stahl, S. A., & Shiel, T. G. (1992). Teaching meaning vocabulary: Productive approaches for poor readers. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 8, 223-241. Stahl, S. A. (2003). Vocabulary and readability: How knowing word meanings affects comprehension. Topics in Language Disorders, 23, 241-247.


Lesson: State Study Vocabulary Words

Subject: Social Studies/Language Arts Grade Level: Fourth Grade Teacher: Amanda Clarkson Date: March 16, 2012 Duration: 20 minutes Lesson Objectives: The student will use vocabulary strategies to correctly define three words related to the state of Michigan. More specifically, the student will be able to use the context to complete a concept-to-definition diagram for deeper understanding of each term. As a result, the student will also be able to use the words correctly in context. GLCE: R.WS.04.07: In context, determine the meaning of words and phrases including similes, metaphors, content vocabulary, and literary terms using strategies and resources including context clues, semantic feature analysis, and a thesaurus. Materials: Michigan Article, copy of concept-of-definition graphic organizer (from Stahl, 1992), copy of pre/post assessment. Rationale/ Background: In order to better understand content being taught, students must have a strong grasp of academic vocabulary. This is especially true of English Language Learners. This lesson will allow my ELL to think about the context surrounding key words and organize his thoughts in a clear graphic organizer. In turn, his Social Studies content knowledge will alsoincrease as he continues his study of Michigan. Opening: The teacher starts by showing student the word glacier. The teacher asks student if he knows what the word means (the assumption is that he does not know the word, however, another word will be used if the student knows the meaning of glacier. The teacher asks: What could you do to figure out the meaning of a word if you do not have a dictionary? (Use context clues, look at root word/prefix/suffix, find examples in the text). The teacher explains that the student will be looking at three new words in context to learn their meanings and help him understand some new ideas in his study of Michigan. Middle: The teacher and student read a paragraph containing the word glacier. Teacher models for student how to complete the concept-of-definition graphic organizer (what is this?, examples, non-examples, and what is it like?) The teacher explains that the what is it box is like the category or subject that glacier fits into. While examples may be a word that the student understands, the teacher reminds the student that non-examples are anything that is not considered an example of a glacier. The teacher also shows students that the five senses can be used to expand on the what is it like? box if it is difficult to come up with descriptive words.

The student also gives input when the graphic organizer is being filled out if possible. Teacher then gives preassessment of the words ancestors, reservations, and heritage (attached). Conclusion: The student completes independent practice by first reading a short excerpt from the Social Studies text and highlighting the three identified words. The student completes a concept-of-definition graphic organizer for each of the three words. The teacher guides the student if needed. Adaptations and Extensions: If the student is having difficulty identifying what a word means, the teacher may point out illustrations, photographs, or other text features on the page to aid in his comprehension of the word. The teacher may also activate prior knowledge related to the given term. If the student finishes quickly and shows understanding of all terms the teacher could challenge the student to find a word on his own that he does not understand and apply the same strategies in figuring out its meaning. Assessment: After independent practice is completed, the teacher gives the same assessment used for the pre-assessment as a way to clearly see evidence of understanding as a result of the lesson. The teacher will also review the students graphic organizer to see if there was a specific part of the graphic organizer that the student struggled with or did not understand, perhaps adding to his overall misconception of a word if there is one.


Lesson: Making Inferences to Understand Texts Subject: Language Arts Grade Level: Fourth Grade Teacher: Amanda Clarkson Date: April 11, 2012 Duration: 25 minutes Lesson Objectives: The student will use background knowledge and text clues to answer inferential questions about a text. GLCE: R.WS.04.07: In context, determine the meaning of words and phrases including similes, metaphors, content vocabulary, and literary terms using strategies and resources including context clues, semantic feature analysis, and a thesaurus. Materials: Copy of text The Haunted Tree (pre-assessment), copy of text Surprise Party (guided practice), copy of text Math Problems (post-assessment), making inferences rubric (pre- and post-assessment), question response sheet for The Haunted Tree, question response sheet for Surprise Party, broken window photograph, whiteboard, whiteboard marker. Rationale/ Background: Making inferences is a difficult skill for students, especially English Language Learners, as it requires higher-level thinking skills. Students must find evidence from the text as well as using his or her background knowledge when making an inference. Therefore, explicit teaching and continued practice is important in developing this important comprehension skill. Opening: The teacher starts by showing the student a picture of a broken window. The teacher asks the student what happened in the photograph. The student will most likely say that a window was broken, and if no reason is given teacher prompts student by asking why? The student may give several ideas of why the window is broken (a baseball went through the window, a rock hit the window, etc.) After the discussion, the teacher explains that the student is making an inference about what happened in the photograph. The photograph does not tell us how the window got broken, but by using clues from the photograph and background knowledge we can make a good guess about what happened. Middle: The teacher explains that the student will be making inferences about a text being read. Just like with the photograph, the student will be using text clues and background knowledge to answer questions that require an inference (in other words, the answer is not right there in the text). On a separate piece of paper the teacher draws a graphic organizer that shows text clues + background knowledge = inference. The student reads Surprise Party aloud. The teacher then asks the following questions one at a time: How did Emma feel at the beginning of the text? Why did the students want Mr. Stinton to feel special? For each question, the teacher and student fill in the inferring graphic organizer.

Conclusion: The student completes independent practice by reading another short text on his own. He then answers a question in writing that require an inference to be made. The student is also required to explain how he arrived at the answer. Adaptations and Extensions: If the student is having difficulty using background knowledge to make the inference, the teacher may help the student think of other texts hes read or even movies hes seen to help him think of similar experiences and situations. If the student finishes quickly and demonstrates a strong understanding of making inferences, the teacher could have the student generate his own question about the text that requires an inference to be made in order to answer it. Assessment: To assess the effectiveness of a lesson, the teacher will use the students independent practice to gauge whether a student was able to correctly use an inference. The teacher will use an inferring rubric (from Shell Educational Publishing, p. 60) with both the preand post-assessments to gather evidence about what was learned as a result of the lesson and determine whether follow-up lessons would be necessary.


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