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Critical Analysis of a Child’s Reading Essay

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Reading is an essential skill in modern society. Not only does it enable people to access information, it provides people with a great deal of pleasure. It is vital that primary schools equip children with effective strategies for reading as well as foster a desire to read that will stay with them throughout their lives. This analysis of reading will firstly give a brief outline of the context of my school placement. It will analyse two pupils as readers and their strategies.

The school’s policy indicates that the context of teaching reading is very important – suggesting a variety of text styles. English & Williamson (2005) inform us that the introduction of the National Literacy Strategy (DfES 2001) broadened the range of texts children are introduced to at primary level. The school is superbly resourced, with thousands of books available to all pupils. Silent reading is also practised daily. X Primary is a larger than average three-form entry primary school with 472 pupils. It’s in an area of average to high socio-economic status and the majority of pupils are from White British backgrounds with few pupils who speak English as an additional language. The number of pupils with learning difficulties is below average. (Ofsted 2010).

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Below is an analysis of a child’s reading. I will focus on analysing the child’s mistakes in reading, called miscues (Hall, 2003) to gain information of the child as a reader.

See more: how to write a critical analysis outline

Pupil A was chosen for assessment as he enjoys reading and is a strong reader. He has had several school moves due to family issues, and has received intervention and support throughout his time at Primary X due to his level of absence. He is eager to learn, and was keen to read for me. The assessment involved analysing his word recognition and comprehension skills. This provides an opportunity to understand how Pupil A as a fairly fluent reader may process a text. The text which was read by Pupil A was chosen as it was unknown to him. It was also chosen as a text that was suitable for his level of reading.

Many of Pupil A’s miscues take place in the form of substitution. These miscues often relate to his syntactic knowledge. He reads ‘a’ instead of ‘one’ (line 3) and ‘but’ instead of ‘and’ (line 8). He also produces the miscue ‘even’ (line 9) as an insertion. These miscues suggest that he is making predictions about a text using his syntactic knowledge. This suggests that Pupil A brings his own knowledge to a text which causes him to make ‘predictions’ (Smith cited in Hall, 2003), resulting in a miscue.

This suggests that Pupil A uses his syntactic knowledge to obtain meaning in what he reads (Hall, 2003). This miscue can also alter the meaning of the text which may affect his understanding. Pupil A makes the same miscue when he substitutes ‘for’ for ‘from’ (Page 2 line 1). He self corrects and asks for reassurance in his correction. Pupil A also corrects himself on the word ‘quickly’ (Pg 3 line 3). This self-correction reveals that he uses syntactic knowledge to process the text, but also that the text Pupil A sees is different from the text on the page (Goodman cited in Hall, 2003). Goodman suggests that there are two texts in question when reading takes place, being the actual text, and the perceived text.

Pupil A demonstrated a comprehensive understanding of the text. He demonstrated an understanding for the organisation of the text and recalled events of the story. Pupil A demonstrated an ability to infer from the text and evaluate it. When questioned, he was able to express that he liked the text and expressed why. He demonstrated emotional or psychological response to the text and characters feelings. This suggests that Pupil A engaged with the text and was interested in the plot.

In conclusion Pupil A demonstrates a clear ability to read fluently and uses different strategies for decoding words. His ability to decode unknown words could be extended by knowledge of consonant digraphs. Pupil A shows an ability to understand a text on a literal level, as well as engaging in a text by making inferences and evaluating a text. We could improve this motivation to read by encouraging Pupil A to read regularly for pleasure.

Pupil B was chosen as although she receives literacy support, she does not enjoy reading. She has accessed literacy support since starting at Primary school in Year 3 and has made considerable progress and is able to read certain texts independently however she also shows little interest in reading for pleasure. She is willing to read with me, as she is used to reading with adults, in a 1-1 situation, and is comfortable with me as I have been in her class for several weeks. She is reluctant to pick a book she in unfamiliar with and cannot think of a favourite author/book when questioned.

Pupil B begins well, with her decoding strategies revealing her processing of a text but also her phonic knowledge. She reads the word ‘spider lings’ (line 8) correctly, by segmenting the word in her head first. She then blends ‘ling’ quietly, to herself, and then asks for reassurance to put both words together. This is because this is an unusual, unknown word, and Pupil B is unfamiliar with the term. She stumbles over the word ‘different’ (line9). She did not segment the word out loud and so it is difficult to determine which strategy she used to decode the word. Nevertheless, it is possible that Pupil B may have used one of two strategies. For the first strategy, it’s possible that she segmented and blended the word in silently. This suggests that Pupil B is confident in segmenting and blending.

For the second strategy, Pupil B may have used her graphophonic knowledge to decode the word. Therefore it is possible that she recognised the word from previous reading exercises. She demonstrates her grapheme-phoneme correspondence knowledge in her unsuccessful attempt to decode the word ‘notice’ (line 10). She fell silent which suggests she attempted to segment the word in her head. However, Pupil B finds this strategy unsuccessful and then chooses to segment the word out loud Pupil B often falls silent throughout the exercise, and waits for a prompt. I feel this is due to her lack of confidence rather than lack of knowledge.

Pupil B demonstrates her grapheme and phonemic knowledge (Hall, 2003) by successfully sounding out the first syllable of the word ‘children’ (line11). She was unable to sound out the second syllable. This suggests that she struggled to sound out a particular grapheme. It’s possible that Pupil B was unfamiliar with the consonant digraph ‘il’. However, Pupil B demonstrates a fluency in reading which may suggest that she uses sight reading as a strategy (Ehri cited in Hall, 2003) to process a text. Erhi (cited in Hall, 2003) suggests that readers find new ways of identifying words. Finding new methods to identify a word can help a reader to become a more fluent in reading.

My reading assessment can provide an insight to how a reader may process a text (Ellis & Lewis, 2006 but it’s only an insight. I cannot be certain that the suggested reading strategy is the method used. The child’s responses is dependent on the text. Another influence could be the text’s difficulty. Too difficult a text may cause them to make miscues and create an unfair representation of the reader (Campbell, 2011). A reader’s inability to engage in the text may be because the reader is not interested in the text. To remedy this, it would be useful to find out what books the reader prefers.

Another strategy for developing reading is shared reading which provides opportunities for children to peer assess. Iversen & Reeder (1998) suggest that this allows children to actively participate when they feel comfortable. This is useful when children haven’t developed full confidence in their own reading ability, it provides a ‘safe’ structure encouraging contribution. This would be beneficial if both pupils could work together as Pupil A may help Pupil B become more engaged with the text.

After analysing both Pupil A and Pupil B, I was surprised at how both pupils used similar techniques, however they were different when reading aloud. I felt there was a gap in understanding and intonation from both pupils, despite being close in age, and both receiving support. I believe another difference was the pupils was desire to read, with Pupil A keen to read books, demonstrating a clear opinion on authors or genre, however Pupil B was reluctant to name a book she’d read, and didn’t have a favourite author/style. I believe this lack of enthusiasm for reading will hinder her development, regardless of support put in. In conclusion, both pupils show an understanding and varying strategies to break down a text, however the major difference seems to be their attitude towards reading itself.

EDP 4120 Assessing Reading

Riley, J & Reedy, D. (2000) Developing writing for different purposes: teaching about genre in the early years. Paul Chapman Publishing, London.

Iversen, S. & Reeder, T. (1998) Organising for a Literacy Hour, London: Kingscourt Publishing.

Hall, K 2003 Listening to Stephen Read: Multiple perspectives on Literacy Buckingham: Open University

English, E. and Williamson, J. (2005) Meeting the Standards in Primary English. Routledge Falmer.

DfES. (2006) The Primary Framework for literacy and mathematics, London: Department for Education and Skills.

DfES. (2006) The Primary Framework for literacy and mathematics: Core position papers underpinning the renewal of guidance for teaching literacy and mathematics, London: Department for Education and Skills.

DfEE. (1999) The National Curriculum: Handbook for primary teachers in England, London: Department for Education and Employment.

Ofsted 2010

Campbell, R 2011 Miscue Analysis in the Classroom Leicester: UKLA

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