Leveling the Virtual Playing Field
1. What is your problem of practice in implementing a blended learning environment?
When students enter your classroom, they come from all sorts of backgrounds. Some students come from two parent supportive homes. Some students come from single parent homes. Some students come from foster homes. Some students live with relatives. In extreme cases, some students may not have homes at all. Some students enter the classroom with all their needs met and others enter the classroom hoping to get their needs met at school. Some students enter the classroom already reading. Some students enter the classroom reading above grade level and others come in still struggling with letter sounds. As a teacher, we structure the classroom to help level the playing field for these students. As a teacher we address the student’s needs within the classroom, so that they can focus on learning. As a teacher we structure instruction to meet the students where they are educationally and help them all grow to meet grade level goals. Reading instruction is tailored and strategic for each student.
With the new structure of virtual blended learning this year, leveling the playing field for students within the classroom is not possible. However, learning is occurring virtually and these students will still need assistance in meeting their needs. These students are still coming to the virtual platform from all different positions environmentally and educationally.
In the virtual reading classroom there is still inequality and unbalance. Educationally, students are ranging from all different reading levels. Some students still need assistance with letters and sounds. Others are reading full chapter books. Some students are read to daily others go months without seeing a book Environmentally, the differences are outstanding as well. Some students are coming to meets with a well prepared learning area to complete their work. They are logging on from a desk area in a quite room with ample supplies, minimal distractions, and parent support when needed. These students have adhered to a routine and have the tools needed for success each day. Some students however, are logging on from whatever area in their house that they can find. Some students are working while balancing Chromebooks on their laps and dodging younger siblings. Some students are straining to hear instruction as babies cry and TV’s play in the background. They are working to protect their materials and use them while animals knock them off the couch. These students don’t have the same learning environment as their classmates.
Reading instruction is still important and growth is still essential from all students no matter where they start from educationally or environmentally. The problem of practice addressed with this grant is how to level the playing field at home for virtual reading instruction for students.
2. What strategy will you implement this year to address the problem?
Educationally Leveling the Field:
This year I propose to implement guided read in gvirtua1ly at home. Guided or small group reading is an essential component of the reading curriculum. Guided reading allows teachers to focus in on the five components of reading daily with small numbers of students at a time. Students work within their level and learn reading skills and strategies that are specific to their reading needs. It is during this time that teachers get to monitor reading habits of students, model good reading techniques, teach new strategies, assess students, provide phonics instruction, and even check comprehension. Generally, within a classroom this is the largest part of the instructional day as that it is the most important and individualized. With the new model of virtual instruction this year, I intend to continue this best practice of providing small group guided reading instruction through virtual google meets. I intend to assess students, determine student levels, create small groups, and provide small group guided reading instruction through google meets. For this instruction, I will continue to use Jan Richardson’s Guided Reading Curriculum and lesson format. These lessons require sight word instruction through manipulatives, new book introductions and readings, word work instruction, comprehension instruction, analogy charts, and word building instruction with Elkonin sound box instruction. These lessons also require daily running records on each child and writing instruction. Guided Reading is one wav that we level the playing field within the classroom. We meet students at their level and guide them to higher reading levels. I intend to continue to use this strategy virtually to help my students grow as readers and level their reading playing field.
Environmentally Leveling the Field:
This year though to be able to fully level the field, I will need to balance student learning environments at home so that they can fully participate in guided reading instruction. I need to balance their learning environments so that they have the same opportunities for growth that their classmates have. In order to provide this balanced learning environment, I will have to survey students and parents as to resources that students currently have in their learning environment. I will survey parent/student opinions about the quality & effectiveness of their learning environment from home. Furthermore, I will have to provide resources to students to help them have the same opportunities to learn from our virtual guided reading instruction as their classmates.
3. What resources and personnel do you need to implement your strategy?
The resources needed for this virtual guided reading strategy would be some of the same resources needed for it within the classroom as well as some additional resources to help balance student learning environments. Students will each need dry erase boards, markers, magnetic letter tiles, and picture cards for word work instruction. Students will need laminated analogy charts and sound boxes for this instruction as well. Students will need access to leveled texts through virtual presentation, which has been provided through our district distribution of chromebooks. Students will further more need tools to balance their environments so that they are conducive to learning. These items would include personal desks, headphones, work shields (tri-board posters), and other resources. To implement this strategy, I will also need a student survey of current learning environment and conditions prior to assistance and one after resources are provided. These materials will all be distributed to students who need them to in order to have the same opportunities as their classmates. At the closure of the year these materials will be collected, sanitized, and reused with future classes. Additionally, if students transition to in school instruction these items will transition with them to provide 1: 1 access.
4. What research question will guide your study of this innovation?
The question that will guide my study will be Can guided reading be as effective virtually as it is within the classroom, if the resources are provided to give students a balanced learning environment?
5. What outcomes will prove that your innovation has succeeded?
To measure the success of this study, I will look at several different things.
Environmentally – To begin with, I will provide guided reading instruction without any additional resources. I will provide parents with a survey on its effectiveness and ideas for improvements. I will also have students complete a survey on their current learning environment and its effectiveness. I will then offer a mid-year and end of year survey to parents to determine if the resources provided made improvements to the student’s learning environments. I will compare/contrast results from these surveys. Success will be noted if students/parents note progress and improvements in their learning due to the resources provided.
Educationally – I will assess each students’ reading level prior to guided reading instruction. I will monitor student’s reading throughout the year and see if student’s growth match the predicted growth expectations of our district. I will also assess students reading levels through running records three times throughout the year to monitor progress. I will finally compare this growth to that of the student growth from previous years of instruction. This will allow me to determine if students have grown in virtual instruction as much this year as they have in previous years instruction. Success will be noted if students show reading growth the same or more than that of previous years students or previous years growth. Success will also be noted if students show growth to meet grade level standards.
6. How will you measure those outcomes?
Environmentally – To begin with, I will provide guided reading instruction without any additional resources. I will provide parents with a survey on it’s effectiveness and ideas for improvements. I will also have students complete a survey on their current learning environment and it’s effectiveness. I will then offer a mid-year and end of year survey to parents to determine if the resources provided made improvements to the student’s learning environments. I will compare/contrast results from these surveys.
Educationally – will assess each students’ reading level prior to guided reading instruction. I will monitor student’s reading throughout the year and see if student’s growth match the predicted growth expectations of our district. I will also assess students reading levels through running records three times throughout the year to monitor progress. I will finally compare this growth to that of the student growth from previous years of instruction. This will allow me to determine if students have grown in virtual instruction as much this year as they have in previous years instruction.
7. How can you be sure that any positive outcomes on these measures are actually due to your innovation and not something else?
I will compare the results from this years student growth to my previous years student growth. I will compare the levels of growth that my students have to the levels of growth other students have with teachers providing guiding reading instruction without these resources.