Monday, February 20, 2012
Stop Correcting and Start Listening!
"In all walks of life, we know that humans learn from their mistakes. We have mistakenly believed that if teachers do not correct, errors will be reinforced and students will continue to make them forever."
- Gretchen Owocki and Yetta Goodman
Children learn best through self-correction in all facets of their learning, including literacy development. One of the hardest, and most powerful, skills that a teacher has at her disposal is her power to listen to a child read out loud. Using the information gathered during the uncorrected or influenced reading, teachers can guide their instruction in small group or large group settings. Children reveal their understanding of reading concepts and strategies through their miscues. A miscue is anytime a child reasons through changing the written text on a page and changes the text by adding a word, changing a word, or omitting a word. Many times, a child is capable of self-correct during the struggle with a word, or later in the story as context builds.
In order for a teacher to complete a Miscue Analysis with a child, he needs:
- A new relevant, interesting, and rich children's literature book
- A recording device
- Note cards, or something to take notes with
- A pen
- A transcript of the text from the children's literature book chosen, divided/numbered by line
- (Possibly) A list of questions to ask the reader after the uninfluenced-reading
The teacher should introduce the child to the activity, and warn them that you will record them, take notes, and never interfere with their reading; you will not help them when they get stuck. Have the child begin to read, and make notes over the transcript when a child changes, omits, or makes a change to a miscue. After the child finishes, ask the child to tell you about the story. If she has challenges with this, make suggestions like, "Tell me more about _______ (fill in with something of the child's language that she mentioned)." This should allow you to realize if the child has truly comprehended the story. If your student can recall main points in the story, he is focused on the meaning of a story, which is wonderful.
The marks/notes that you made on your copy of the text can now be used to address some of the child's miscues with the child. First, you need to assess if the child's miscues made grammatical sense (substituting nouns for nouns, adjectives for adjectives), and it made sense in the story's context. For example, if a child repeatedly substituted a word throughout the story, but the context did not match, the teacher can now use this to ask the child what that particular line meant. Usually, the student will express confusion, and we can use this to guide a child to focusing on the meaning of a passage. If the text does not make sense in your brain, the words are probably pronounced differently. A teacher can use this to help a student self-correct.
During the intervention portion of this assessment, ask questions like:
- What else could you do in situations where you are unsure of a word?
- Do you know what you read in line _____? (When a child miscues, this might trigger a memory that he knew it was not quite making sense)
- What are the smart things you did in your reading to decide that word was _____? (After a self-correction)
- What could it say?
- What would make sense?
- What would you say there?
Using Miscue Analysis allows a teacher to understand how his students individually think about reading, the strategies they use, the concepts they use proficiently, and the areas that challenge them most. When a teacher performs a Miscue Assessment correctly, she has the opportunity to adapt her small group, individual, or large group instruction to meet the needs of her children. Through these experiences, children will learn strategies to self-correct, which is the most powerful instruction a child can learn. Through self-correction, a child will truly learn to read to gain insight into the meaning of the text, and worry less about the text representations on the page.