From Accuracy to Authenticity

This semester, students in READ 6329.10 were asked to contribute a post to this blog.

By Lizeth Rodriguez

Have you ever been forced to read a book, which seemed alien to you? The task of getting through the book was ever so painful and dreadful. At the very least, did you wonder what this has to do with what you enjoy reading and found nothing with which you could relate? Children who have a restrictive selection of books to read from also experience this disconnection.  To make matters worse, when assessing a child’s reading skills, they often demonstrate problems because the reading material is not interesting.  In order to obtain accurate results, books must be authentic so that emergent readers can develop their reading skills.

What I have learned in this program, is that to learn and develop reading, a child needs to read! Many students get turned off by the nonsensical text in the books they are provided, the type of books which claim to promote literacy development that include phrases such as, “Mat had a hat”. How lucky that Mat had a hat, but what does that have to do with student interest or cultural relevance?

zulemaLibraries are founded on wide ranges of books, and with the advent of technology there are more selections of digital books to choose from. For students in the RGV some culturally relevant books they may find interesting would be tied to folk tales, the sort of stories that students heard since early childhood that had been passed down generation to generation. Stories that I grew up with, such as, “El Cucuy” by Joe Hayes, which tells about the legend of the Mexican version of the Boogyman. Also, the collection of books by Xavier Garza are worth looking into, such books as, “Zulema y La Bruja Lezucha”, “Creepy Creatures and Other Cucuys”, “Lucha Libre”, “Maximilian and the Bingo Rematch: A Lucha Libre Sequel,” “Kid Cyclone Fights the Devil and Other Stories” and “Juan and the Chupacabras.”  There are so many to choose from!  Since the Hispanic culture values family, the books can include title such as “Abuela” by Arthur Dorros. What is also wonderful is that many of these books are written in both, English and Spanish.  This works great for the bilingual family.

Reading fluency and comprehension is developed by building a student’s background knowledge and by choosing books that they find interesting. When students already have the background knowledge and vocabulary before they read a book this will ensure that they read with confidence and understanding.  Only then, can teachers and reading specialists assess and obtain accurate results of a child’s reading skills.

The miscue analysis is an assessment tool that provides information on the quality of the miscue and tells if it’s a syntactic or semantic miscue and if it changes the meaning of the text.  There is one, the Procedure III, that is more intensive and requires more time but teachers can also assess a student with less time using the Over the Shoulder analysis.  This necessitates having a child read an authentic and interesting book, and the teacher makes notes of his miscues as she looks over the child’s shoulder.  Because it is less time consuming, it is an extremely valuable tool for teachers to use and to assess their students’ reading skills.

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