Does innovation help improve reading comprehension for students with special needs?
In Napa County in 2016, 47 percent of all students enrolled in grades 3 to 12 were meeting or exceeding grade-level standard on the CAASPP in English Language Arts. Therefore, 53 percent of students are either nearly or not meeting the standard (kidsdata.org, p 1, 2019). As a Special Education Specialist, I wanted to find out what I can do differently to improve reading comprehension for students with special needs.
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Can innovation and innovative tools help increase reading comprehension for students with special needs?
According to the National Center of Education Statistics, the reading scores for fourth-grade reading scores for students without disabilities increased from approximately 220 to 225, whereas students with disabilities declined from 188 to approximately 186 (NCES, 2011).
The purpose of this action research is to improve reading comprehension by innovation and technological innovative strategies and support for students with special needs in a secondary comprehensive learning environment. Best-practice, research-based teaching strategies that promote engagement, effective, and individualized instruction, which can be enhanced with technology and innovation. According to Fielding and Pearson, "the most sweeping changes in r instruction in the last 15 years are in the area of comprehension" (Fielding & Pearson, 1994, p. 1).
Previous teaching and instructional practices have not been successful in the delivery of reading instruction in a "traditional" classroom setting, of students sitting in rows, with only the teacher speaking. We now know that there needs to be a shift in the delivery of effective instruction, and student learning in the 21st century.
Learning environments require: "a successful program of comprehension instruction including four components:large amounts of time for actual text reading, teacher-directed instruction in comprehension strategies, opportunities for peer and collaborative learning, and occasions for students to talk to a teacher and one another their responses to reading." (Fielding and Pearson, 1994 p 3).
Reading Comprehension Gains by
Innovation in my Methodology Improves Secondary Special Education Students Reading Comprehension Performance
Rounds of Research
Baseline: Baseline data came from students' previous standardized academic assessment reports (i.e., Woodcock-Johnson IV, Brigance Assessment).
1st Round: Student participated in pre-post assessments. Before reading instruction, students completed an Ekwall Shanker Reading Inventory (ESRI) and the San Diego Quick Inventory (SDQI) to determine reading decoding and reading comprehension levels. Next, students completed "exit tickets" and mini-quizzes with each lesson. Students answered various WH (Who, Where, When, Why, What and How) questions with each reading passage/text or chapter. Students utilized reading passages and comprehension quizzes, tests, and assessments through an online learning platform MobyMax.com.
2nd Round: Students completed the second round of assessment through the ESRI and SDQI, as they did in the first round. Reading instruction included the use of current event articles through an online learning platform New2You.com. Reading passages were differentiated from non-reader to advanced independent readers without the use of symbols accompany words. Students completed various paper/pencil and innovative supplemental activities to promote engagement and target visual, auditor, and kinetic learning styles. Additionally, students utilized laptops, document cameras, projectors, and a touch screen Prowise screen to demonstrate their reading comprehension.
3rd Round: Students completed the third round of assessment through the ESRI. Students were introduced to a new reading curriculum, "Read and Tell," published by Attainment Company. Read and Tell curriculum utilizes novels and various low tech strategies to promote literature review strategies. Students identify characters, settings, etc. through the use of graphic organizers. The student's completed multiple activities with each chapter of a particular novel (i.e., Freckle Juice, Muggie Maggie, etc.). Students answered questions on their workbook after each episode. The teacher utilized the Response to Intervention strategies and promoted collaboration in pairs or small groups.
4th Round: Students began reading James and the Giant Peach (4th-grade level) novel. The students watched the movie before reading the story. Students reviewed four vocabulary words, their meaning for every two chapters. Additionally, they answered four comprehension questions. Student's utilized audiobooks (Audible) and highlighted text application (Bookshare). Student's used a variety of exit ticket strategies, such as Kahoot! to answer questions following reading/listening to each chapter. Students created stop motion videos of their favorite scene/settings from the novel. They had access to various iPad apps, Prowise touch screens, complete presentations, stop-motion videos, and hands-on craft projects. Students made notable gains in their reading decoding and comprehension. Student progress ranged from .5 to 2.0-grade levels in decoding and 20 - 40% gains on reading comprehension.
Additional Findings: Throughout this Action Research project there was a notable increase in student engagement and motivation. This was evident not just through staff observation, but through a brief survey conducted. Additionally, student homework completion increased; as students have Technology home work on weekends verses paper/pencil worksheets. They are requested (not required) to complete 20 minutes on three online learning platforms (MobyMax, News2You and Typing.com).