2nd Round Action Research: Accelerating the Learning Part 2

At the beginning of my 2nd round of Reading Recovery I wrote a post about participating in a LitCon session, The Quest for Accelerated Gains in Writing, presented by Mary Fried, reflecting on my own practices during the writing part of my Reading Recovery lessons, and my desire to do some action research centered around writing and examining the impact on my students.

My goal was to accelerate my students faster in order to make a substantial impact on their reading and writing learning. Another great resource that guided me while working on this goal was the LitCon session titled, From Day One: Fostering Independence to Promote Acceleration presented by Amy Smith, Beth Magsig, and Amy Emmons.

Hurdles along the way

During this time, I was out of work for 5 1/2 weeks for a long overdue surgery. Fortunately, my students had a retired Reading Recovery teacher as their substitute. Unfortunately, my substitute occasionally became a classroom substitute teacher. Upon my return to work, I was also required to be a substitute teacher in the classroom frequently. I saw my students consistently for the first 6 weeks of their program. The artifacts that I will be sharing will be from this time period only.

Action Steps

The following were the actions steps I implemented along with a few observations.

☑ During the 1st 6 weeks spend more lesson time on writing

As a result of spending more time on writing early on, I noticed that my students would automatically extend their sentence or create a new sentence. I found that I would often have to stop them from writing and record what they wanted to say so that the student could continue their story the next day.

☑ During roaming around the known include at least 2 episodes of writing

☑ Include more entries on the practice page

Overall I had more entries on the practice page than previously. This is still an area that I would like to continue to work on.

☑ Encourage the crafting of complex stories

☑ Be purposeful with supporting students with generating a variety of stories

I noticed that none of my students tried to say simple safe stories like, “I like to…” and their complex sentences did not morph into simple sentences when they went to write it down.

☑Teach for independence.

By the end of the first week of lessons, my students were all taking unknown words to the practice page on their own. I also put my students in charge of using the cover-up tape for their mistakes. To save time, I would have pre-torn tape stuck to the tape dispenser for students to take as needed. Since the students fixed their own mistakes, I think that I was better able to observe monitoring and self-correcting during writing. Students knew that they were expected to keep writing and not write a letter/word and wait for me to continue.

☑ Make connections to the books the child is reading

I did make connections to books more often, but this is also another area I would like to continue to work on.


Although I did these actions steps with all four of my Reading Recovery students, I will be sharing the results of the two students with the lowest stanines.

Student A (ENL student)

Observation Survey Scores:

Letter IdentificationConcepts About PrintWord ReadingWriting VocabularyHearing and Recording Sounds in WordsText Level Reading

I also did the Oral Language Acquisition Inventory with her in which she had a score of 2/7. At the beginning of roaming, she communicated primarily in 1-2 word phrases and with gestures.

Sample 1

This unassisted writing piece was done on the student’s 2nd day of roaming.

Message: “Whale”

During the first two sessions of roaming the student read the book Mom several times. After the second read, on day two of roaming, I asked the student what her mom likes to do. The student turned to the swimming page and said, ” She is swimming”. I invited her to go ahead and write that story down. She said “sh-e” slowly and then said, ” I don’t know.” I remained silent and jotted down some notes. She searched the room and found a picture of a whale on an ABC chart. She copied “whale” on her paper. When she was finished I asked her to read her story and she said, “swimming”.


  • Orally generated a grammatically correct 3 word sentence
  • Used the -ing grammar structure that she had learned from her book
  • Said a word slowly
  • Nice letter formation
  • Held on to her idea
  • Picture matched her story
  • Used resources
  • Worked out her problem on her own

Work on:

  • Saying words slowly and recording at least one dominant sound
  • Holding on to more than one word during construction

Sample 2

This 2nd unassisted writing sample was done after the 1st week of lessons (15 sessions).

Message: “Tomorrow I eat 6 apple.”

I showed the student stickers with pictures of food. She quickly pointed to an apple. I asked her to tell me about the apple. She said, “Tomorrow, I eat six apple.” and then began to write after I handed her a piece of paper. She said, “tomorrow-t-t-t-t” and wrote a “t”. She said “tomorrow” slowly a few times and then looked to me. I prompted her to keep writing. I assume that she was aware that “tomorrow” should have more letters but she wasn’t sure what else she was hearing. She reread her story and wrote “I”, said “eat -e-e-e” wrote “e”, Stretched “eat” two times. When she stretched “eat” she was articulating the “t” sound very softly, so I think it was hard for her to hear. She reread, wrote “6”, said, “apple” and then another word which also began with “a” and then wrote “a”. She realized that she wouldn’t have enough room to write “apple”, so she covered it with white tape and then wrote “apple” on the next line. She used a nearby ABC chart to copy the rest of the word apple. She reread her story one last time.


  • Generated a meaningful 6 word sentence
  • Used a time order word (tomorrow)
  • Attempted to leave spaces
  • Monitored her writing
  • Held on to her message
  • Recorded initial sounds

Work on:

  • Saying words slowly and recording beyond initial sound
  • Extending sentences with “and” or “because” which were starting to emerge at this point in her speaking

Sample 3

This unassisted writing piece was done at the end of the 5th week (25 sessions).

Message: “Here is Bella and Rosie. Is happy and sad because no like the picture!”

We had read several Bella and Rosie books and the student had fallen in love with the characters. She chose a sticker and I asked her to tell me a story about it. She laughed and said, “no like”. When I asked her to tell me more, she said, “Bella and Rosie no like the picture”. When I handed her a piece of paper she initiated the writing. She said words slowly and recorded the sounds she heard. She moved to each word on her own. She spent a lot of time saying words slowly multiple times to hear and record sounds and also to check the word that she had finished writing. When she checked words she pushed up each letter as if she was doing sound boxes. She reread after every 2-3 words. We ran out of time for the rest of her idea so I quickly recorded what she wanted her story to say.


  • Using language structures from the books she was reading
  • Generated a complex sentence that included the word “because”
  • Crafted the more complex sentence “on the run”
  • Recorded more sounds in words
  • Said words slowly, multiple times
  • Appropriately used exclamation mark

Work on:

  • Make sure her known words are known in detail (“here” and “and” were recorded as part of her writing vocabulary)
  • Clear up the sudden x/e confusion
  • Spacing

Student B

Letter IdentificationConcepts About PrintWord ReadingWriting VocabularyHearing and Recording Sounds in WordsText Level Reading

Despite a higher amount of item knowledge this student had remained at a low text reading level for the first half of the school year and his writing in the classroom consisted mostly of pictures with some labels.

Sample 1

This unassisted writing piece was written on day 2 of roaming.

Message: “YouTube” “Xbox One”

As my student and I were getting to know each other, I asked him what he liked to do for fun at home. He said, “I watch YouTube on my iPad.” I told him that would make a good story and I handed him paper to write it down. He appeared hesitant and asked me if he could draw a picture. Once I gave him the okay he quickly drew a picture. After drawing his picture, he stopped and put down his marker. I asked him if he could write the words that went with his story too. He told me that he thought he knew how to write “YouTube” and “Xbox”. He added those labels to the picture. I asked him to read his story to me. He pointed to the pictures and said, “YouTube” “Xbox One”.

*During roaming we made several Minecraft books that the student said were “part of a series”. During the process of making these books, the student decided that he wanted to be an author when he grew up.


  • Orally generated a complete thought
  • Held on to his thought
  • His labels matched his pictures
  • His pictures matched his story
  • Showed some visual memory of environmental print
  • Mostly good letter formation

Work on:

  • Holding on to and recording a sentence
  • Letter formation (uppercase Y)

Sample 2

This unassisted writing piece was written after 2 weeks of roaming (10 sessions).

Message: “At the end, the pig ate the big bad wolf.”

The student really enjoyed the version of The Three Little Pigs that we read. When I asked him what the author wrote that made this book funny, he said, “He made the pig eat the big bad wolf”. I asked him to write that down so that we could let other people know about this funny part. The student initiated writing on this own. He wrote, “At the end the” quickly as they were all part of his writing vocabulary. He said “pig” slowly and recorded the sounds he heard. He reread the story and and said “ate” slowly. As he stretched the word, he added an “n” sound. He then quickly wrote “the big bad (reversed the ‘b’)” and said “wolf” slowly. As he stretched “wolf” he again added sounds as he was stretching the word. He reread his story and said he was finished.


  • Wrote known words quickly
  • Said words slowly
  • Attempted to leave spaces between his words
  • Used time order words “At the end”
  • Said words slowly and recorded sounds throughout words

Work on:

  • Saying words slowly without adding sounds
  • Letter formation (lower case “a” & “b”)
  • Writing 2 sentences

Sample 3

This unassisted writing piece was written after 4 weeks of lessons (20 sessions).

Message: “I woke up. As I got out of bed my tooth came out. I just recognized that my tooth was gone. I found the missing tooth.”

The student couldn’t wait to tell me all about his missing tooth. I had to stop his never ending story so that he would have time to write. He initiated writing on his own and wrote continuously with some rereading of a few words, but he never reread from the beginning of his story. He wrote known words quickly and said unknown words slowly. He read his story to me when he was finished, said he forgot his period and then added 4 periods without rereading his story. The student had loved reading Rosie’s Bear and it was a favorite that he took home frequently. I felt like I could see elements of that story in his.


  • Said words slowly and quickly wrote what he heard in sequential order
  • Said words slowly without adding extra sounds
  • Wrote four sentences on one topic

Work on:

  • Adding words from his reading vocabulary to his writing vocabulary (out, came, that)
  • Where to put periods

My Thoughts

This action research project helped me to check on my own teaching. I was able to see if my students were doing what was taught to them with independence. Bringing these artifacts to meetings with teachers helped to discuss strengths and next steps. I observed that the confidence and independence of each student was greatly improved by the end of roaming. I would like to continue with the action steps listed above as I start working with my first round of students in the fall. With the hurdles out of the way, I would like to see the impact on students when they are able to receive a full series of lessons.

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