Case Study

EDRD 716

Meet Taj

During this Fall semester in EDRD 716, we have had the opportunity to work with Taj. Taj is currently in 4th grade at Seven Oaks Elementary school. We had fewer amount of sessions because we received the group of boys during the third week. During our first meeting together we got to know the boys through an interest inventory and conducted the Burke Reading Interview. We were excited to learn how outgoing and outspoken Taj is as an individual.

Taj is nine years old and full of energy and ready to learn. He is very social and loves to read. Through our interest inventory we learned his favorite subject is Math, because, "He is good at it." This surprised us though, because of his love for reading. Everyday, he is carrying at least 6-8 books around in his book bag. He told us he likes to carry this many because he likes to read part of one and then move to another. His favorite books are comic books. He said he feels "cool" about reading. For pleasure he loves to read Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle books. He learned to read when he was 4 years old by his mother. He has a collection of strategies he uses while reading, such as; skip the word, refer to the glossary, or sound it out. Taj believes he is a good reader because he takes his time while reading.

Meet The Teachers


My name is Jenna Noblin and I teach fourth grade at Sandlapper Elementary School. I taught for 3 years at Newberry Elementary School and I am now in my 2nd year at Sandlapper. I have my degree in Elementary Education from the University of South Carolina and I am enrolled in the Language and Literacy Master's program at USC now. I am originally from New Jersey, but have been living in South Carolina for a little over 8 years. I have 2 rescue dogs, Winny and Sadie. I like to spend time outside, read, and watch my students learn and grow!


My name is Molly Stephens and I am currently enrolled in the Language and Literacy masters program at the University of South Carolina. I recently graduated from USC with a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education. I am originally from Irmo, South Carolina. I enjoy spending time with family, going on the lake, and attending church activities. I developed my love for children working at summer camp for 3 summers. Teaching is a place where I devote my heart to make a difference for each and every student that walks through my door. I am excited to start this journey next school year!

Background Information


Over the course of the semester we administered different types of assessments to see where our student was at as a reader and writer. During these assessments we took notes and focused on their strengths and how we could create them to grow as a reader and a writer through these areas of strength. We used both formal and informal assessments to gather the information to learn more about Taj. We administered the Burke Reading interview, we did an interest inventory survey, we saw his Dominie Reading and Writing assessment portfolio his teacher had conducted, we did the RMA, over the shoulder miscue analysis, and daily observational notes. Through these assessments we learned that Taj is a strong reader but struggles with comprehension. These assessments provided us with information to help us determine instructional practices in which would be most appropriate for him individually.

Formal Assessments

We conducted a miscue analysis with Taj in which he read the story Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon. This was a level P and grade 3.8. We chose this text because he had recently told us he enjoyed David Shannon as an author and after viewing the Dominie assessment this book matched with his level, 9A. His teacher tried level 10 for him, in which he can read but he did not pass the comprehension section. After we conducted the miscue analysis, the next week we did a retrospective miscue analysis. We chose 10 high quality miscues and decided this would help him make connections as a reader. We struggled when conducting the retrospective miscues analysis because the boys were extremely silly and were not showing the patience for this analysis. We analyzed 3 miscues together and it was fun to see Jamari and Taj collaborate together as to why the miscue was made. All together, I feel that the feedback we got from Taj about the miscues he made were helpful and interesting to teach us more about Taj as a reader. Please see the translation from the recording for the typescript.

The in depth miscue analysis showed us some things about Taj as a reader. We learned that he uses some of the cueing systems, but not all at the same time. He had 36% syntactic acceptability, 16% some, and 44% not acceptable. He had 28% semantic acceptability 28% strength, 32% partial strength, 12% overcorrection and 24% weakness. He has high graphic similarity, with 53% high, 41% some, and 6% none. This has helped us decide what we should work with him on next. We decided we will work with him on how to use textual clues to help form a word. He often creates nonword and we want to use this information to help us with our focus next semester.

Informal Assessments:

During each session we kept notes and observations of Taj and what he did as a reader. We kept these observations and recordings and reflected on them after each session to plan for our next session. These observations helped us learn what we needed to do to help Taj as a reader. The first day we met together we did an All About Me interest survey. We brought this because we wanted to learn about the boys, what were some of their favorite things, who they lived with, what they like to do in their spare time and what they would like to be in the future. We were very impressed with Taj, stating in the future he would like to be a president. We learned his favorite subject is Math, he looks forward to this year because he wants to be a good student, and he loves sports. He is very close with his family, living with his mother and older brother.

Through our daily observations, we learned that Taj is extremely social and loves to read. Every day he came, his book bag was full of books! He would have up to 6 books in his book bag at a time. He loved to read and was extremely interested in comic books. He was also very confident in his reading ability. He could read very difficult text but his comprehension was an area for growth. Taj was very animated when he read and loved the different onomatopoeia present in comic books. Through learning all the boys loved comic books, we decided to let them create their own comic book. For these classes, we would split the group and have two stations. One station would read with Molly while the other group worked on their comic book with Jenna. During this time we learned about their story craft as well as their reading ability. Each day when they created their comics, they referred back to their comic books in their book bag. They incorporated different perspectives, using both close up and distance, even focusing on just one part of the body, such as the eye. They both designed their characters and created the plot for the story. We focused on creating a beginning, middle, and end for the story.

Miscue Analysis

Retrospective Miscue Analysis

Over the shoulder miscue analysis with Taj

This is Taj's over the shoulder miscue analysis about the book Geronimo Stilton: The First Samurai.
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Weekly Meetings and Reflection

Session 1: September 17

Today was our first day with Taj, Bryson and Jamari. The boys were very outgoing and are sports enthusiasts. Taj likes to doodle, Bryson likes to play football and Jamari tells very detailed stories about his graphic novels. We did an all about me page with snacks, talked through the burke interview and explored the library. We ended with a silly story about pizza that Jamari picked out.

Session 2: September 25

Taj and Bryson were absent today, so it was us with Jamari. We read aloud Salt In His Shoes with him while he had a snack. Then, we did some benchmark readings. He showed us many books and spent a long time with the book, Amulet #6, from last week. He retold many sections of the book and decided he may want to make his own comic book.
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Snacks snacks snacks!!!

Today, the boys were treated with cotton candy and cookies! OH BOY!!!

Session 3: October 1

Our group was reunited today! Jamari came in very upset, so we spent some time talking together and enjoying snacks while reconnecting. Molly and Taj did a miscue text together. Jenna went with Bryson and Jamari and did their own, where Bryson helped as the teacher and Jamari read for them. Bryson noticed that Jamari added "the" into several sentences and inquired into why. They discovered the Jamari reads so that the text makes sense to himself, and they determined that this is a great thing to do as a reader! The boys then agreed that they wanted to write a comic book with themselves as superheroes that work together and they began to design their characters.

Session 4: October 15

Molly did a Miscue Analysis with Jamari and Taj while reading A Bad Case of Stripes. She learned about their individual reading strengths. Jamari uses pictures to make meaning and has a strong understanding of the text. Taj uses expression when reading, especially with quotations and punctuation. She notices a need for Taj to learn some comprehension skills and strategies.

Jenna met with the students who were not reading and helped them to create a plan for their comic. The characters are planned. We have 2 heroes and a villain. We quickly created a problem. Taj used his Superhero Handbook to get ideas on making a character profile. Bryson used a Batman comic to brainstorm ideas for his city. Jamari had strong ideas on how his character would be portrayed to make the story flow the way he envisioned it.

Session 5: October 29

Today we worked as a group to analyze the miscue analysis using RMA. We had trouble getting Taj and Jamari to focus, so we went outside into the courtyard so we could hear the recording better. The boys were very goofy and laughing while listening to Taj read on the recording. We addressed 3 miscues and and the boys discussed them making great connections and insights to the conversation.

Session 6: November 5

Today Jamari and Taj wanted to read different books, so we met with them separately. Taj read a Geronimo Stilton book and Jamari read When the Beat Was Born. Jenna and Molly both preformed an over the shoulder miscue analysis. We learned that Taj reads well in different character voices and Jamari is very interested in the content and features of the text. Then we worked on our final draft of the comic book. They chose to create their own comics from two different points of view. One is about the hero and one is about the villain. We are excited about the comic they are producing!

Session 7: November 12

Today we focused on finishing the comics the boys have been working on. The boys were very excited to get time to work on their comics. We learned that Taj is very animated with his sounds and illustrations in his comic. Jamari works diligently every class and spends time putting detail into his illustrations. Both of the boys have a very different styles in their comics and through this you can tell they are very aware of the different text styles comic books use.

Taj's Comic Book

Jamari's Comic Book

Miscue Analysis (In Depth Procedure)

Instructional Decisions and Analysis

As we began our work with Taj, our observations led us to wonder about him as a Reader. What are his beliefs about Reading? What does he understand about the reading process? What strategies does he use when reading?

During our first meeting and subsequent meetings we noticed that he always had a large pile of books. As many as 6! He shared with us that he was reading all of them. We began to wonder what this observation could tell us about Taj as a Reader. Does he believe that good Readers read a lot of books? Does he get bored with a book and abandon it? Does he believe a good Reader reads often? In the end we came to the conclusion that Taj believes that a good Reader reads often and needs many books to accomplish this. Molly and I recognized that within his stack of books, many of the texts he chose to read were graphic novels. We decided to use the plethora of graphic novels in his backpack to our benefit. As our final product, we created our own comic book and took advantage of Taj’s belief that a good Reader needs a lot of books. We used Taj’s graphic novels as inspiration and mentor texts. For him, this were repeated readings and high interest texts that we used as sources of inspiration. By the end of our time together, he would pull them out and show them to us on his own to talk about ideas he has for his own writing. He began to understand the connection between reading and writing through this work.

As we spent more and more time engaged with Taj in a text, we wondered more and more if he believed reading was a meaning making process or if he believed that it was getting the words right. During our Burke Reading Interview, he shared that we need to take our time when reading, or else it sounds like, “blah, blah, blah.” If he knows that reading too quickly can make it seem like nonsense, does this mean he understands that reading is a transaction with the text? When reading The Magic Sword, we observed Taj insert, omit, and self correct to preserve the meaning of the text. While this certainly points to Taj understanding that text should be meaningful, we also observed him read nonsense words in his Retrospective Miscue Analysis using A Bad Case of the Stripes. Together, we noticed at this time that he used the word appointment for ointment because he knew doctors had appointments. In our In Depth Miscue Analysis, we saw that he used high graphic similarity in this text with a low preservation of meaning. We realized that Taj does know how to make an easier text make sense and wants to attend to meaning, but reverts to visual cues when the text becomes challenging.

Throughout our time with Taj, we continually noted the expression he used when reading. When conducting the Over the Shoulder Miscue Analysis, he gave the characters voices within the graphic novel. He began our time together saying that when reading we need to slow down so it doesn’t sound like, “ blah, blah, blah.” This belief that reading should sound interesting is clearly an important part of his theory of reading. He uses such interesting inflection and voices showing that he wants his reading to be interesting. His love of reading and interest in storytelling comes through as he does this.

Taj’s high interest in comics and attention to the art of storytelling is a strength that led us to helping him to create a comic. Through his use of mentor texts, he showed us that he has a love of reading and can attend to meaning for an extensive retelling using pictures. In easier texts, Taj attends well to meaning and will make high quality miscues to have the story make sense to him. He tries to extend this skill into more challenging text, but tends to fall back on sounding out words and using visual cues. Because of this, working with Taj on meaning making strategies in texts that involve superheros or in graphic novels would help him to make more high quality miscues while he attends to the meaning of the text.

Instructional Suggestions

Teacher Letter

Working with Taj this semester has been an exciting and fun-filled learning experience. He surprised us with his creative ideas and kept up laughing and smiling with his light-hearted sense of humor. In the past few months we inquired into what Taj believes about reading and how that affects what he does as a Reader.

Taj likes to keep a large number of books on hand at all times and is very interested in graphic novels and superhero comics. He knows that when reading text out loud, it should sound interesting so that those listening can be engaged and focused on the story. Because of this, he reads with phenomenal expression and even uses voices to perfect his art of storytelling. This has led us to understand that Taj believes that reading should be an enjoyable experience.

When books are easy for Taj, his miscues are generally high-quality and he often self-corrects them. He uses meaning to construct sentences sometimes resulting in omissions, substitutions, and insertions, although not many. However, when engaged in more challenging texts, Taj will try to use meaning, but will revert back to visual cues when coming to a word, phrase, or sentence that challenges him. When his attempt makes no sense, he continues on without returning to correct his original attempt.

Because of his interest in graphic novels and the visual support it provides, working with Taj in challenging graphic novels for instruction might be a good place to begin with him. Since he already knows how to use meaning and self-correct his miscues in easier text, it might help to begin pointing those strategies he does use out when reading an easier text. Noticing and praising these strategies will encourage him to continue to use them, since you are confirming their value. Then, prompting him to either use meaning on an unknown word or to self-correct his nonsense words, would be helpful strategies what will assist Taj in making more high-quality miscues. Cloze reads would also be a helpful way to encourage Taj to see that using meaning can help lead him to finding the appropriate word in his reading. Also, prompting Taj to question his meaning-making, whether correct or incorrect will encourage him to apply self-confirming and self-correction strategies on his own. When he attempts a word that was a struggle for him, ask, “Does this make sense?” Whether it did or didn’t, allowing him to question and confirm his own thinking will help foster his independence in checking himself when reading alone.

Thank you for allowing us to and supporting us in our work with Taj this semester. We were able to learn so much about Readers and the reading process through our time with him.


Molly Stephens and Jenna Noblin

Parent Letter

Taj has been such a joy to work with this semester. Learning alongside him has been a fun-filled experience filled with surprises and laughter. As we worked with Taj, we learned about what he believes as a Reader and the strategies he uses when reading.

Taj likes to keep lots of books on hand, especially graphic novels and superhero comics. When reading out loud, he reads with expression and uses voices in his storytelling. He is so animated and knows how to make the story interesting.

When reading easy books, he uses the meaning of the story to figure out unknown words. He tries to use this when he reads more challenging books, but sometimes ends up reading words that don’t make sense when he sounds it out. He moves on after the word without fixing it.

Because of this, it could help to prompt him to pay attention to the meaning of the story. Asking questions like, “What word would make sense in that spot?” or, “Does that make sense in that spot?” Also, try rereading the sentence as Taj read it and asking if it makes sense to him. Try to do these things on words that he struggled with and got correct and those that he struggled with and got incorrect. This will teach him to check himself and have confidence in his own reading.

Working with Taj taught us so much about Readers and the reading process. Thank you for sharing him so that we could work and learn with him.


Molly Stephens and Jenna Noblin