My name is Sarah Coleman, and I am a senior at Concordia University, Ann Arbor. My concentration is Elementary Education with a major in Language Arts, a minor in Early Childhood Education, and an LTD (Lutheran Teacher Diploma). I have a passion for teaching and I love working with children. School has always come fairly easy to me, and I have always loved to read, but for some reason comprehension was always my weakest point. I would always day dream when reading my homework and then have to read the page 3 more times before I actually made it through. Looking back, I never knew why I struggled so much, but after doing some research for this class, I may have found out why.
I am currently in a class entitled ‘Teaching Struggling Readers and Writers in the Elementary Classroom.’ The main focus of the class is in what ways students can struggle, possible reasons for their struggling, and strategies to help these struggling readers and writers. We have talked about many topics from phonics and decoding to vocabulary and comprehension to various kinds of assessments. Earlier in the year, one of our assignments was to create an annotated bibliography on a topic of our choice. In an effort to figure out my own comprehension struggles, I focused my research on why some students have problems with comprehension and what teachers can do to help them. Though I would not consider myself a struggling reader, I did up with a couple possible solutions to my comprehension difficulties from my research. One reason, the simpler one, may be that I was simply not interested in the readings. The other reason is a bit more complex and maybe a little unexpected. Many times teachers break reading down into very simplistic steps like decoding, spelling, vocabulary, etc. rather than looking at reading as a whole. This could often turn students off, especially those who need a more holistic approach, like me. I do better when I can see the big picture, rather than working in small steps. I also believe that students are better able to comprehend when they can visualize what is going on in the story. Creating a clear picture in a student’s mind is essential when helping them to understand.
I decided to use these ideas to create my unit plan because I figured that I am probably not the only person who has ever felt like this. I also based my unit off of some ideas from the fourth grade classroom that I go to for fieldwork. They are working on reading folk/fairy tales so I decided to go along with that theme. I also kept my case study child in mind when creating this unit to try to play to some of her strengths as well, in hopes that I will get to try some of it out with her. I hope this unit fun and helpful as you work with not only struggling readers and writers, but all other students as well.