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Final Book Project

MD is 6th grade student at a Title 1 school. He currently has an IEP for a SLD in

the academic areas of math, reading and writing. Though it has not been officially

determined, it is presumed that MD has dyslexia. This is based on him struggling with

phonics and not able to put phonemes into letters when writing. His reading level is that

of a 2nd grader. However, he can comprehend 5th grade text when read to him as

evident by tests.

The book chosen to read with MD is "Dead End in Nortvelle," by Jack Gantos.

The book was published by Square Fish in May of 2013. For a previous class, we had

to complete a student inventory and interview with a striving reader. This is a similar

approach as suggested by the authors of the article, "Factors that influence the book

selection process of students with special needs." Schwartz and Gillespie-Hendricks

ask a group of participants a series of questions to understand their interests. This was

a similar process I had already done with MD. The results indicated MD really enjoys

learning about history and likes reading mystery novels. Also, MD generally Will

research historical events further than what's required of given assignments and always

ask questions.

Similarly, to the article, Factors that Influence the Book Selection Process of

Students with Special Needs, MD selected books that were well above his reading

level. The article stated, "children with special needs like the same kind of books as

other children and should be allowed to choose their own books for pleasure reading."

Teachers often ask what to do in situations like these with adolescent students (Swartz,

& Gillespie-Hendricks, 2008). Even before reading this article, I suggest that students
showed be allowed to read any book they want, even if it is above their reading level.

However, reading material at their level should also be provided.

Theoretical Framework or Model

The learning theories I would implore during the reading of "Dead End in

Nortvelle," are the metacognition theory and the engagement theory. MD benefits from a

gradual release model, which is why the metacognition theory would be a good fit while

instructing MD. With the metacognition theory, teachers are to release responsibility to

students through modeling and think aloud. Engagement theory would also benefit MD

because he needs to constantly involved. Otherwise, he may become a behavioral


Reading Level

The Lexile level for this book is 930, which is a 6th to 7th grade level book. When

assessing the difficulty of this book, there are other factors that should be taken into

consideration. These factors include content, depth of vocabulary words and MD's

ability to make inferences.

"Dead End in Nortvelle" is appropriate for Michael in terms of content and

understanding the premise of the story. However, in regards to reading level, it's not

appropriate. To accommodate MD's lower level reading level, we will work through the

book together, and during any activity or when answering comprehension questions, I

would allow him to ask what words are that he cannot read. To work through the book

together, I will either read passages to him, have him practice echo reading, do you

corral reading, or have him independently read it out loud to me. These practices have

previously helped MD.


What vocabulary in this book will likely be difficult for a struggling reader?

Words that might pose a problem, but are important to the story are: souvenirs,

obituaries, arthritis, and autobiographical. In addition to these words, I would make a

word wall to post while reading this book.

The article, Words are wonderful: Interactive, time-efficient strategies to teach

meaning vocabulary, by Margaret Richek, offers a lot of useful ideas to teach

vocabulary and have students absorb the information. Of the many ideas, the two

activities that would be useful for MD are Word Expert Cards, and Two in One. The

process for Word Expert Cards is extensive, but seems to be very effective. First,

students copy the sentence with the word directly from the text. Next, students look up

the word in the dictionary and then discuss it with their peers. On a piece of scratch

paper, students write the part of speech and a sentence using the new vocabulary word.

Once the teacher approves what the student wrote, they can write on a card with the

word. The other activity, Two in One, requires students to write two vocabulary words

in a sentence. This helps them become more engaged and expand their thinking

( Richek, 2005).

Reading Fluency

The article, The Method of Repeated Readings, by S. Jay Samuels discusses

the success of students rereading text to increase fluency and comprehension. When

implementing this strategy, teachers should select a text that is 50 to 200 words long.

First, the student and teacher read the text together. Then, the student continuously

practices reading the passage until they have an adequate fluency and accuracy rate.
This rereading strategy also enhances comprehension. Each time the student rereads

the passage, less attention is required for decoding, and more attention becomes

available for comprehension. Also, it is suggested that the teacher asks a new question

about the text each time the student reads it (Samuels, 1979) This method would be

great for MD since he struggles with decoding. Though decoding can be hard for MD,

he generally is able to remember whole words through repetition, which is the premise

of this reading strategy.


Comprehension is one of the harder skills to teach students, especially to

struggling readers. If students cannot read the text, how are they supposed to

comprehend it? As a general rule in my classroom, when students are independently

working on comprehension, I will clarify any words that are difficult for them to read

because I really want to see if they are understanding the text.

The article, Shared Readings: Modeling, Comprehension, Vocabulary, Text

Structures, and Text Features for Older Readers, offers a variety of strategies to help

adolescents understand what they are reading. The comprehension strategy suggested

is to do a shared reading with students. Through shared reading, teachers can help

activate background, inferencing, summarizing, predicting, clarifying, questioning,

visualizing, monitoring, synthesizing, evaluating, and connecting. To help students

engage in deeper thinking, teachers need to model their thought process. The text

offered examples of how teachers have done this in their classroom (Fisher, Frey, &

Lap, 2010). This would be a good strategy for MD because he needs guided instruction
and gradual release to be an effective learner. I feel confident that his comprehension

success rate would increase with shared readings.


For writing, I would use a gradual release model to teach summarization. MD

needs a lot repetition to master a skill, especially in writing. Therefore, I would

summarize each chapter. In the article, Whats the Gist?: Summary Writing for

Struggling Adolescent Writers, the authors provide step-by-step directions on how to

have students Generate Interaction between Schemata and Text (GIST). The method

suggested is very interactive and allows for a gradual release process (Frey, Fischer, &

Hernandez, 2003). I am confident students would be proficient half way through the

book of writing summaries.

Summary for Dead End in Norvelt

Jack Gantos had imagined a great summer off from school, but suddenly his

plans were completely ruined when he defied his parents. Instead of spending his

summer having fun, he spent it writing obituaries for Miss. Volker, an elderly lady with

arthritis. Writing about so many deaths causes Jack to have anxiety and makes his

nosebleed at the rate of a waterfall. Jack begins to notice that the originally members of

Norvelt are dying at a rapid pace, and he cannot help but become suspicious of what is

going on.


MD is not the best test taker. Unless he remembers specifically what happened

in the text, he usually struggles with answering questions because it is hard for him to

reference back to the text. Therefore, to have a better understanding of what MD

comprehends, I would assess him using a portfolio. In the portfolio, there would be
sections for reading accuracy, vocabulary, comprehension, writing, outside connections

project as well as book review. With a test, I think he would shut down as he normally

does. With a portfolio, I think MD would have fun gathering the different components. I

am sure his favorite part of the portfolio would be the project connecting the book to a

piece of history.

Related Readings

Throughout the book, Eleanor Roosevelt is frequently mentioned. One of the

main characters is constantly raving about how great of a women she was. A related

reading MD could do is read a biographical excerpt on Roosevelt, and then compare it

to what he read about her in, Dead End in Norvelt. Another related reading source

would be look at newspapers from the 1960s, when this book took place. MD would

enjoy reading articles from that time period to have a better understanding of what life

was like then. Finally, the last related reading that would be helpful to better understand

the text is looking at obituaries in the newspaper since the book is centered around the

main character writing obituaries of those important to the community.


I am very excited to start reading this book with MD, as well as other students.

This book would be a great anchor text when learning about American history and

community development. After I read this book with MD, I have intentions of reading this

book with a higher level reading group.

Fisher, D., Frey, N., & Lap, D. (2008) Shared readings: Modeling comprehension,

vocabulary, text structures, and text features for older readers. The Reading

Teacher, 61(7), 548-556.

Frey, N., Fisher, D., & Hernandez, T. (2003). "What's the gist?" summary writing for

struggling adolescent writers. Voices from the Middle, 11(2), 43-49.

Richek, M.A. (2005). Words are wonderful: Interactive, time-efficent strategies

to teach meaning vocabulary. The Reading Teacher, 58(5), 414-423.

Samuels, S. J. (1979). The method of repeated readings. The Reading

Teacher, 403-408.

Swartz, M. K., & Gillespie-Hendricks, C. (2000, April). Factors that influence the book

selection process of students with special needs. Journal of Adolescent & Adult

Literacy, 43(7), 608-618.