Reading/Following directions ADVICE?

Discussion in 'Third Grade' started by newbie23, Sep 19, 2009.

  1. newbie23

    newbie23 Comrade

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    Sep 19, 2009

    I am new to third grade. The teacher before me left copies of the tests he created for our reading program. I really feel like they do a great job of covering the grammar skills, comprehension and phonics covered throughout the week. I like that I don't have to give students separate tests in grammar, reading, phonics, etc.

    Each of the tests is in a very similar format. Each week the students have to insert vocabulary words next to their definition provided on the page and then write a sentence using that vocabulary word. Each week they also must proofread sentences. I had thought that this consistency would really help students to become more independent with their test-taking.

    So far, I've been wrong. I have 3 students reading on a beginning second grade level and find that I have to read each question to them multiple times. If I read the questions and prompt them, one seems to get almost a perfect score each time while the other is average. If I didn't read the tests to them however I know they would receive an F. I don't feel right making a student miss a question simply because he or she cannot read it and the majority of my students have no problem reading the tests.

    The first week I quickly read through the test and then students began working. Grades weren't good but it was the first week taking this sort of test.

    Next, I read the test to them question by question and provided time for them to answer each question (the kids who wanted to move on could and for the most part they were responsible with this). Grades were better although i still had students not following directions on a few sections.

    Earlier this week I showed the test on the SmartBoard and indicated what I had seen a few students do (just circle a sentence when i really needed corrected, rewrite the vocab word and definition, etc.) and worked with the students to create responses that would receive full credit. On test day, I didn't allow students to take out a pencil until I had read the entire test on the SmartBoard and had them follow along with their fingers.

    I still had students say, "What am I supposed to do here?" The same 2 or 3 as usual said they didn't understand the question. I reread it to them and they were able to provide the correct response. Then, I had 2 students who still missed thing we had talked about just before the test (they answered the question completely wrong).

    This doesn't seem to happen just on tests. If this were the case, I would try to change the language but my students cannot read and follow simple directions on grammar pages.

    I'm just not used to this neediness perhaps. I'm used to my students being a little more independent and able to at least read the directions first and then attempt to do the assignment. With this class I have students who don't even try to read the directions (sometimes it's because they are low readers) and instead come to me, then when I read and explain they return back to their seats and I find the assignment has not been completed as it should be.

    Does anyone have any suggestions?
     
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  3. kacieann

    kacieann Companion

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    Sep 20, 2009

    We are not allowed to read test aloud to students unless specified by an IEP. The purpose of a test is to have an understanding of what our students know. The first couple of weeks my students grades tend to be very low, but most rise to the occasion once they understand that this is the way that tests are given in 3rd grade. There is a huge leap in my state between 2nd and 3rd grade. You may look at what your options are to 504 your students who are unable to read at all.
     
  4. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Sep 21, 2009

    There are many ways to determine what I student knows without having them read and write answers to test questions.

    Newbie, you have done some wonderful things to help your students access this type of test. For those who are still struggling, you may want to try explaining just one section of the test at a time (in a small group or individually); hearing everything at once may be overwhelming.
     
  5. corney

    corney Companion

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    Sep 21, 2009

    My daughter struggles in this area as well. If the questions and the choice of answers are read to her she does do better but there are times you can tell she hasn't comprehended to even listened to the material the test is about. The teachers aren't really supposed to "read" the tests for them because it is a "reading" test, however they do read, math, social studies,and science tests to them. I have noticed that since my daughter has an IEP, this third grade shortens the tests for her and she gets help with reading them.. Newbie it could be some of your students aren't paying attention or comprehending the reading. If they don't have IEP's I would suggest the children be tested and considered for an IEP so they can get some extra help or on an intervention schedule.
     
  6. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

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    Sep 21, 2009

    Are they actually reading the directions? Often times a student will ask me "What am I supposed to do here?" or say "I don't get this" on a test or worksheet, etc. If I ask "Did you read the directions carefully?" many times that solves the problem (as they slink back to their desk shaking their heads).

    Oops...I just reread your post more carefully (only slightly ironic, huh?). I would just be careful about reading it for them if they don't at least try it first.
     
  7. newbie23

    newbie23 Comrade

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    Sep 21, 2009

    Ok here's what I'm thinking. I will not read the test to the students as EVERYTHING that is on this test has been on either a practice worksheet (completed as a group) or a previous test (i.e. we're reviewing compound words and subject/predicates from last week).

    I will however plant myself at our small group table next to the tray where students are to hand in tests. Before they may turn a test in, I will look over it to ensure that they have answered all of the questions. Of course I will not guide students towards correcting any answers, I want to ensure that they have all at least attempted each question.

    Does this seem fair?

    I need to read up on 504 plans and qualifying characteristics/trends. My biggest problem is that these students are entirely capable of getting correct answers and growing BUT they can't read the test. Unfortunately I think their parents read every word of the homework to them as a way to just get it done without having the students attempt to read it. I'm finding it to be very challenging to combat this in the classroom.

    Thanks for all of your advice. We have a math test on Wednesday. I do not intend to read this to them as the questions are identical to those found each night on their homework.
     
  8. tgim

    tgim Habitué

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    Sep 21, 2009

    Yes, that seems fair - if no one has an IEP or a 504 that entitles them to read tests aloud TO someone or have the test read TO them.

    Often I just respond to kids when they say they "don't know what to do" by having them read the directions aloud to me. I have them stop at each comma, "and/or/but/so," and at the end of each sentence. I reassess understanding after each pause, and typically they "get it" right away. I am considering writing to the side "read the directions to me aloud" and then signing or initialing it so parents can see trends for students who repeatedly need this type or reinforcement. Currently, if I do read a test aloud, I make them write at the top "My teacher read this aloud to us." I also find that using highlighters to highlight particular directions helps - SUBJECT and circle might be yellow, PREDICATE and underline might be orange or blue.

    Trust your instincts when your gut tells you that if it is in the same format as homework or other tests, they SHOULD be able to do it independently after you discuss the directions.

    As for parents, maybe in your next newsletter or update you can address allowing the students to work independently. This is a big part of 3rd grade - and they really do NOT want to be doing this in 4th, 5th, 6th...grades.
     
  9. nattles19

    nattles19 Comrade

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    Sep 21, 2009

    My policy in general is to read the directions out loud along with the students once, take questions, and then they're on their own. I don't repeat directions once I've given them in most cases. If a students says he has read the directions and says, "I don't get it," I ask them to tell me what part so I know how to help. Is it a word they don't know, or what?

    On our first math test more than half my class didn't read directions carefully and turned in answers half finished. I told them that normally I wouldn't remind them since they are expected to double check their work, but this first time I would give them the opportunity. Next time, nope. I agree that third graders are expected to be a lot more independent.

    If it's a case of just not paying attention, teachers need to be careful not to teach their students that they don't really have to because you'll repeat it again as needed.
     
  10. newbie23

    newbie23 Comrade

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    Sep 23, 2009

    Update: We had a math test today. I didn't read the directions to the students and assured them that if they didn't understand what a question was asking, they could come to me and I would listen as they read it and we could then talk about what was confusing but that I would not be reading the questions to them.

    Students also had to show me their paper prior to turning it in so that I could ensure all questions had been answered.

    I just finished grading and the scores were good in the sense that I didn't have the 1 or 2 very low grades I've had the past few weeks but a few of my struggling readers finished just a few points below what they've done on prior tests. Overall, I'm happy. I noticed I wasn't as frustrated and students were much more independent.

    GREAT IDEA to include this in our newsletter. I'm just getting mine ready to send home this weekend and will include something in there encouraging parents to ensure their child is reading all questions on their homework before they receive any assistance and explaining our testing procedures.
     
  11. tgim

    tgim Habitué

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    Sep 25, 2009

    Glad it went well!! I gave a unit reading test using computerized version and I am so disappointed!
     

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