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Joshua White

Unit II Reflection Paper

I can see a number of areas in Unit II where I may have difficulty putting theory into
practice. There are many reasons that I believe my understanding of this content is a little murky,
chief among them a general lack of classroom experience. In my role as a teacher assistant, there
are some things that are simply not a part of my roles and responsibilities, and I believe it will
take some time before I am using these principles and practices of teaching reading effectively in
the classroom. The three areas where I feel I will have the most difficulty relate to wordidentification instruction, vocabulary instruction, and comprehension instruction.
In so much as word-identification is concerned, there are numerous different aspects of
word-identification one should be comfortable planning and teaching. As Heilman (2002) writes,
students should not be taught to rely heavily on any one word-identification technique (p. 202).
This means that effective word-identification instruction may require the use of all of these
techniques, and each student will have his or her own needs. For my language arts class I
performed a spelling inventory and analyzed that data to see what difficulties students were
having. I look forward to gaining more of this hands-on experience with data collection. I think
experience of this kind will be a major component to understanding which word-identification
strategies to implement and when.
When it comes to vocabulary instruction, I have more experience seeing it done, but
again I have never actually collated or developed vocabulary lists. This is another area where I

will definitely need more experience assessing different age groups so that I can better predict
what words students know and what words students do not know. Moreover, in order for explicit
vocabulary instruction to be effective you have to build on students reading experience and
conceptual background knowledge, and as Heilman (2002) says, in order for this to happen you
must balance explicit instruction with broad reading opportunities and other language activities
(p. 210). The amount of instructional procedures related to explicit vocabulary instruction is
staggering. I look forward to experimenting with concept wheels, semantic maps and webs, word
maps, and the like. This semester I have developed and implemented an exercise where students
used context clues to discover word meaning, and I look forward to doing more activities like
this in the future.
I also envision encountering difficulties providing students with quality comprehension
instruction. I have very little experience with comprehension assessment, and therefore need to
gain experience working with mClass and then shaping my instruction around this data. I need
practice developing both literal and inferential questions and then interpreting student answers to
determine their level of understanding. I also need experience assessing students fluency in an
organized way. In addition, I have never been able to implement or design scaffolded lesson
plans based on data collection, and I believe scaffolding and differentiation to be essential to
student learning. I predict this will be an art that takes time to master.
In essence, there are many things that I feel very comfortable doing in the classroom, but
there is a distinct difference between implementing a teachers plans as a teacher assistant versus
implementing something you yourself have written. I believe that once I begin doing this in
earnest, many of these principles and practices will come into sharper focus.

Heilman, A. W. (2002). Principles and practices of teaching reading. Columbus, OH:
C.E. Merrill Books.