Chapter 13 Reflection

       Chapter 13 of Thomas Gunning’s Assessing and Correcting Reading and Writing Difficulties focuses on building writing strategies. As you already know, this is my last chapter reflection for the semester and I feel that it was only right to end it with a chapter on writing since many of the previous chapters mainly focused on reading.  The first section of this chapter talks about the changing nature of the writing process. This means that as students mature as writers, the nature of their writing changes. Here we learn that inexperienced writers use and knowledge-telling process and typically do not know what’s next as they are writing, while experienced writers “compose”.  Gunning next tells us the five steps in the writing process which are prewriting, composing, revising, editing, and publishing.  These steps operate in a circular or recursive fashion, and Gunning goes into greater depth on each step. Each of these steps are very important and have influence on the other steps and it was interesting for me to formulate the writing process into words. Next, Gunning discusses strategies such as guided writing, modeling writing, strategic writing instruction, and writing workshops, and also talks about the role of rubrics, different programs for low-achieving readers and writers, and cognitive strategy instruction in writing. Probably the most significant part of the chapter for me was the section on how to motivate reluctant writers because I feel that this will really benefit me as a teacher. Gunning gives us ideas such as writing aloud, written conversation, journal writing, and quick-writes. I really enjoyed this chapter; it was a good change of pace for me. This chapter was filled with a lot of good information that I can apply as a teacher in my own classroom.

Chapter 11 Reflection

       Chapter 11 of Thomas Gunning’s Assessing and Correcting Reading and Writing Difficulties focuses on building comprehension. This chapter was one that I really enjoyed reading. This is because I feel that the weakest point of my reading is my comprehension, so learning different strategies that may help my future students comprehend better really means a lot to me. After all, I feel like reading without being able to comprehend is pointless.

       Chapter 11 begins with the theories of comprehension. These theories are the Schema Theory and the Situation Models. Gunning next goes into the causes of comprehension, the central role of metacognition, and comprehension strategies.  The steps in a strategy lesson are introducing the strategy, demonstrating and modeling the strategy, guided practice of the strategy, independent practice and application of the strategy, assessment and reteaching the strategy, and ongoing reinforcement and implementation of the strategy. Gunning then discusses preparational strategies such as setting purpose and goal, previewing, and predicting, and then discusses selection/organizational strategies such as deriving main ideas.

       I am so glad that I got to read this chapter. After all, why would we read if we cannot understand what we are reading? I want my students to love to read and to want to read for themselves. I want them to be successful students and without reading comprehension this isn’t possible. This chapter is so beneficial and it really connected my life to what we are learning about. So thanks Thomas Gunning! (:

Chapter 10 Reflection

       Chapter 10 of Thomas Gunning’s Assessing and Correcting Reading and Writing Difficulties focuses on building vocabulary. Throughout this chapter Gunning discusses the principles and techniques for teaching new words and different strategies for remembering them. Gunning first talks about low-achieving readers and vocabulary and how they coincide and then the stages of word learning. These stages are:

  1. I never saw it before.
  2. I’ve heard of it, but I don’t know what it means.
  3. I recognize it in context- it has something to do with…
  4. I know it.

Reading about these stages, makes me think about myself when I was younger, and even still now. If I come across a word I do not know, I follow this train of thought. Following the stages of word learning, Gunning talks about word knowledge and comprehension and says that although having a good vocabulary is important by itself, vocabulary is also a means of improving comprehension with deep and thorough instruction.  Next, we are given many different strategies that can help build upon and teach children vocabulary. These strategies are building on what students know, building a depth and breadth of meaning, creating an interest in words,  relating words to students’ lives, creating memorable events, promoting independent word learning, and selecting words for instruction. I feel that each of these strategies can be super beneficial to teachers. This is because each of these strategies can be very useful to help students in very different ways. The chapter next discusses techniques for teaching words. These techniques are conceptual teaching of key words, brainstorming techniques, using imaging and graphic organizers to learn words, and other vocabulary- building devices.  When reading this section of chapter 10, I realized just how important these techniques are. I say this because every child learns in their own way and what works for one child may not for another. So as teachers, we must know different ways to reach out and help our students.

                I can honestly say that I feel that having a rich vocabulary is a very important asset to children which is why this chapter on building vocabulary is so beneficial. Communication is so important and we communicate by using words. If we have a rich vocabulary, not only can you express yourself better, you can understand others more effectively and comprehend what they are saying.

Chapter 9 Reflection

While reading Chapter 9 of Thomas Gunning’s “Assessing and Correcting Reading and Writing Difficulties”, the part that stuck out to me most was the section on the teaching strategies for when students encounter multisyllabic words.  I feel that this portion of the chapter was so important because it doesn’t just explain the difficulties; it explains a strategic approach that I, as a future teacher, can really use to help my students. I understand that seeing a big multisyllabic word can be scary and intimidating for a child, and I want to be able to help them as much as I can so that they can be successful readers. The first thing that Gunning says to do when a student encounters a difficult multisyllabic word is to help them apply the pronounceable word-part and analogy strategies along with context, so that the child will ultimately be able to use these strategies independently. As a teacher, you can help your students by using guide questions such as “Are there any parts of the word that you can say?” or “Can you say the first part? The next part? Can you put the word together?” While reading this, I noticed that I have seen my cooperating teacher use these guiding questions numerous times in my fieldwork, and they really do work! I have noticed that they give the child the help they need, but the satisfaction of feeling like they accomplished figuring out the word by themselves. My cooperating teacher often has her students cover up parts of multisyllabic  words that they don’t know  and read them in pieces, but I have noticed that most of the time, the child can read the word- they just think that they can’t. Gunning tells us that, as teachers, we need to give our students as much guidance as they need, but gradually lead them into being able to decode words by themselves (we all know I love decoding 🙂 haha- just see my annotated bib), and as we prepare our students to be able to decode independently these steps can be of great use to them:

1. Say each part of the word, or say as many parts as I can

2. If I can’t say a part, think of a word that is like the part I can’t say, and then try to say that word part

3. Put the parts together to make a word

4. Ask “Is this a real word? Does it make sense in the story?”

5. Say “blank” for the word. Read to the end of the sentence. Ask “What word would make sense here?”

6. If nothing else works, I can use the dictionary or glossary.

I really enjoyed this chapter of Gunning’s book. I really think this is because I was able to connect what Gunning was saying to my real life experience in my field work classroom- which I love, love, love!

Chapter 8 Summary

Chapter 8 of Thomas Gunning’s Assessing and Correcting Reading and Writing Difficulties is a very long and complex chapter. Therefore, I decided to reflect on just a small part of the chapter that I thought would benefit and interest me the most. The part of the chapter that I decided to focus on was the portion on teaching phonics. The first sentence that Gunning writes is: “Failure to master phonics and related word-analysis skills is easily the number-one cause of reading problems.” I tend to agree with this statement, although I do realize that there can be many other factors that can affect a child’s reading. Gunning next gives us an example of decoding difficulty, talks about the incidence of deficient decoding among older students, and talks about a theory of decoding. Following this, Gunning explains how words are read. He says that words can be read in four different ways. These four ways are by decoding, analogy, prediction, or memory/immediate recognition.  When it comes to decoding, children can decode words sound by sound and then blend the sounds or they can sound out the onset and then the rime. If a child reads by prediction they might use the first letter and context to predict what the word might be or they may use an illustration as a clue, and finally memory/ immediate recognition is used when the word has been encountered so many times that it is bonded into their memory. Following how words are read, Gunning talks about the different phases that are involved when children are learning to read new words. These phases are the prealphabetic phase, the alphabetic phase, and the consolidated alphabetic phase. In the prealphabetic phase, readers connect certain visual aspects of a word directly with its meaning. In the alphabetic phase, children begin to use their knowledge of letter identities and letter-sound relationships to make connections between the letters in the words and their sounds, and in the consolidated alphabetic phase the students use more sophisticated print units to make associations between print and sound. Gunning next tells us about the different types of word-recognition difficulties, these are: deficient decoders, disabled decoders, inaccurate decoders, inaccurate decoders, and nonautomatic decoders. We also are taught about the principles of teaching phonics, the content of phonics, which are consonants and vowels, and different strategies on how to teach each of them. I think this chapter has a lot of very useful information that can really help me understand the processes behind reading, which will help me understand my future students’ and their needs better.

Chapter 7 Summary

In chapter 7 of Assessing and Correcting Reading and Writing Difficulties, Gunning focuses on emergent literacy and prevention programs. Gunning describes emergent literacy as “the reading and writing behaviors of young children that precede and develop into conventional literacy”. Next Gunning discusses what preventative programs are and gives examples of them by describing four preschool programs. The programs discussed are the High Scope preschool curriculum, the OWL program (Opening the World of Learning), the Para Los Niños program, and the LEAP program (Language Enrichment Activities Program). We next read about “Webbing into Literacy” which is a downloadable program that’s focus is to provide Head Start teachers with materials and instructions to help foster language development in children, and following this, we learn about kindergarten prevention programs. In the next section, Gunning discusses the benefits of reading out loud, fostering emergent literacy, and concepts about print. The benefits of reading out loud are that it builds a background of experience, vocabulary, syntax, and comprehension. In regards to print, we are taught that there are many essential concepts of print that students may not have acquired and that it is important that students acquire these skills. These essential concepts can be book-orientation concepts, print-direction concepts, and print concepts. The book-orientation concepts are locating the front and back of a book, recognizing the functions of the cover and title page and recognizing the functions of print and pictures. The print-direction concepts are reading from left to right and reading from top to bottom and print concepts are understanding that words can be written down and read, recognizing a letter, a word, and a sentence, understanding  that printed words are composed of letters, words are composed of sounds, and letters represent sounds, being able to point to separate words in print, understanding the difference between uppercase and lowercase letters, and understanding the functions of punctuation marks. Next, we learn about ways that we can assess the concepts of print which are informal assessments and writing samples. The following section in chapter seven discusses developing literacy concepts. This section talks about shared reading and the concept of separate words. Following this, we learn about students’ writing- more specifically, we talk about using graphics to prepare students for writing, using scaffolded writing, using shadow writing, using the language-experience approach, using shared writing, and using handwriting to benefit students. Next, we learned about phonological processes and reading, phonological awareness and English Language Learners, how to assess phonological awareness, rhyming, beginning sounds, segmentation ability, commercial testing, blending, and techniques for building phonological skills. To bring the chapter to a close, Gunning discusses phonological awareness and word analysis, the Road to the Code, letter knowledge, teaching letter names, invented spelling, and ends with a mini-case study to bring all that we learned together.

Chapter 6 Reflection

In chapter 6 of Assessing and Correcting Reading and Writing Difficulties, Gunning focuses on the assessment of cognitive, school, and home factors in children. The chapter begins with a section on the assessment of a student’s capacity and explains the three main ways to do this. These ways are to: 1. administer a test or academic aptitude, 2. obtain a student’s listening capacity, or 3. provide the student with the opportunity to learn and see how they do. After explaining these ways, Gunning goes on to tell us that intelligence testing is highly controversial and that intelligence tests are biased against poor readers. Next, Gunning describes the most significant criticism of intelligence tests as the idea that they lower the expectations on students. Next, Gunning discusses the role of intelligence tests and Wechsler scales. Gunning then talks about the subtests in the Wechsler scales which are tests on verbal comprehension, perceptual reasoning, working memory, and processing speed. The subtest on verbal comprehension includes an emphasis on vocabulary, similarities, comprehension, information, and word reasoning. The subtest on perceptual reasoning contains the aspects of block design, picture concepts, matrix reasoning, and picture completion. The working memory subtest focuses on areas such as digit spin, letter-number sequencing, and arithmetic, and lastly, the processing speed subtest includes coding, symbol search, and cancellation. Gunning also talks about the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales and how they assess fluid reasoning, knowledge, quantitative reasoning, visual- spatial processing, and working memory. We also learn about the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, other individual tests of cognitive ability such as the Woodcock-Johnson III NU Test of Cognitive Abilities, the Detroit Tests of Learning Aptitude, and the Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children II, and group intelligence tests such as the Cognitive Abilities Test (Riverside) and the Otis-Lennon School Ability Test. Following these forms of intelligence tests, Gunning discusses tests of listening, tests of language, assessment of memory, associative word learning, and word finding. Gunning’s next focus is the assessing the instructional situation and tells about the functional assessment of academic behavior. Following this, what a child’s case history contains is thoroughly explained by looking at factors such as: family factors, pregnancy, early years and overall health, developmental milestones, early language and literacy development, school history, home factors, and interests/personal adjustments. Gunning then tells us that we must look at the students’ views of their own reading and writing, we must look at their reading expectancy, and then as good teachers we must summarize our findings. After doing this, we should make recommendations, and write professional reports for the student. Finally and very importantly, chapter 6 teaches us that assessment is an ongoing process, and that sometimes we must take a multidisciplinary approach to reading problems because sometimes they can affect many different aspects of a student’s life.

Chapter 5 Reflection

First, I’d like to start off with a BIG thank you for stopping by my blog… here’s to another installment of my thoughts and ideas on the wonderful world of teaching struggling readers and writers! (:


In chapter 5 of Assessing and Correcting Reading and Writing Difficulties, Gunning focuses on the assessment of reading and writing processes. The chapter begins by talking about different reading processes. The first process discussed is decoding, and I was so excited to see this in this chapter! I literally just focused my entire annotated bibliography on decoding and its effect on children’s reading comprehension, so seeing even more information on decoding was so awesome! Well, by now, it’s no secret; I think decoding is a very important tool for children to use when learning how to read. The next reading process that was discussed is comprehension. In my mind, comprehension is even more important than decoding. I feel this way because I often ask myself, what good is it to be able to read if you don’t understand what you are reading? To me, decoding is one of the steps that lead to reading comprehension. When it comes down to comprehension, Gunning tells us about many different strategies that can be used to assess and help students. These strategies are to retell what they have read, use think-a-loud prompts, use interviews and questions, make observations, use anecdotal records, and use background knowledge. Next, the chapter discusses assessing vocabulary knowledge and assessing writing. When discussing how to assess writing, we are taught about the roles of students, different assessment techniques, how/why we evaluate a piece of writing, how to use a portfolio to assess writing, assessing samples of a students’ writing, what commercial tests of writing are, and exemplary teaching by using portfolio assessments. The chapter then moves on to spelling and first explains that the stages of spelling are the prephonemic stage, the alphabetic stage, the word pattern stage, the syllabic stage, and the morphemic stage. Then, Gunning discusses how to determine what spelling stage a student is at. To conclude the segment on spelling, we are taught assessments for spelling can be informal spelling tests and commercial spelling tests. To end chapter 5, Gunning discusses handwriting and tells us that it is often a low priority to teachers but it shouldn’t be because handwriting can actually be very important when you are assessing a child academically; handwriting can tell you a lot about the child and there are ways to assess it in itself.

Chapter 4 Reflection

In chapter 4, Gunning really focuses on IRIs. An IRI, or an informal reading inventory, is defined as a series of passages that gradually increase in difficulty, and they are used to assess oral reading and comprehension in students. When reading about IRIs, I found that they have two parts to them- a graded words list and a graded passage, but what I think is just as important as these two components is the way that students must perform them orally and silently. The reason I say this comes from my past experience. When I was younger, I HATED reading out loud to the class. Do you ever remember playing “popcorn”? If you don’t, let me enlighten you. It was a reading game where you would read out loud and randomly stop and pick on someone to start where you stopped, and I completely and utterly dreaded it. You see, whenever we would read out loud as a class, I needed to read the material to myself first because if I didn’t I would jumble all of the words up and feel so unconfident in what I was reading. This is just one reason why I think that reading aloud is SO important and IRIs are important. I also feel that reading silently is super important as well. This is so important because silent reading is a tool that you will need to use for the rest of your life- plain and simple, you need to be able to comprehend what you are reading. Throwing out another past experience of mine ( well, what can I say, this is MY blog 🙂 ) I still, to this day, somewhat struggle with remembering what I read after reading a page of a text book silently to myself. I feel that if we, as teachers, really focus on and instill in children’s minds how important reading out loud and silently to ourselves is, it will benefit our students so much in other aspects of their lives. So, now back to the IRIs, I feel that they really can be a good tool for teachers and placement when used properly. No child wants to be frustrated with reading- it makes them unconfident and frankly, just not want to do it. So if we, as teachers, can use IRIs to find out what level readers our students are, we can understand our students and their abilities better, and if we do this, we can use that information to help our students become better readers and succeed in school.

Chapter 3 Reflection

Chapter three was all about assessments, and while I know that assessments, especially standardized ones, can be a very controversial subject, I honestly feel that assessments are a good thing when used correctly. What that being said- I do believe that what we, as teachers, test our students on needs to be relevant to the curriculum and be about what the students have been learning. I understand that it is pointless, unfair, and discouraging to test a student on something that they haven’t been learning in class, but I do feel that it is very necessary for students to be assessed on what they have learned. Assessments don’t always have to be tests but I do feel that tests are a good thing. I know that many people don’t feel this way or agree with me- but let me explain my thinking. A test can show that the child, as an individual, can demonstrate the needed skills to make them successful in the classroom. When saying this, I do not mean that other forms of assessment are bad things; they can be good and keep students more interested, I just think that tests are good ways to show that a student is learning the curriculum and can demonstrate and perform the skills by themselves.