From one of my 8th grade art classes with my cooperating teacher at Hays Consolidated Independent School District’s Dahlstrom Middle School, I selected a student to interview in order to witness literacy from a student’s perspective. From this interview, I learned that some students do enjoy reading and realize that it opens new opportunities for learning and exploring. I also found that although personal reading can be enjoyable to some students, academic reading is disdained and thought to be uninteresting. With this knowledge, I was able to take a new look at literacy.
I selected my student, “Lee”, because she seems to be focused and creative. Throughout my entire internship, she has always been drawing personal illustrations or reading a book during class because she has already completed the assignment and her end results are always skillful and expressive. Selecting Lee would not disrupt her classwork and may give me valuable insight from an excelling student.
I began the interview with a general interest survey. Lee seems to embody a typical 8th grade student as she likes to listen to pop music, watch television, and hang out with friends. She also expressed experiencing stress from school. Lee does enjoy reading, writing, and even acting, though, so she may be more artistic or creative than an average middle school student. From the writing and reading surveys, I found that Lee enjoys both reading and writing for personal reasons. She often partakes in these activities when she wants to escape from her world or learn something new and she feels that she has refined literacy skills. I was surprised to find that Lee understands that literacy is key to succeeding in life as she explained to me that one must have literacy skills to achieve in the adult world. “Literacy empowers people by allowing students to do better in all of their classes when they can read and write well,” she expressed. Literacy is an important life skill and some middle school students realize this fact.
After interviewing Lee, I began to explore how I could her with her reading and writing skills. Lee mentioned that she has trouble focusing on academic reading because she finds it uninteresting. She also felt that she had limited time to read and write and that she wishes she had more to devote to it. In order to help her, I devised a reading strategy for her to utilize. I taught Lee a strategy that I use myself when reading academic texts in college, a kind of graphic organizer that could help a creative, artistic, and visual student like herself. When I read uninteresting texts that I have trouble focusing on or texts that I would like to retain or easily study from at a later date, I keep my mind busy with colored pens. I underline connections I make in dark blue, references to outside texts in light blue, facts I find interesting in purple, and wordings I don’t understand in orange. I explained to Lee that this keeps me busy while reading and helps me collect the information, then later, I am easily able to find topics. Lee was excited to use this technique and thought it was a perfect solution to her focusing issues. She agreed to use the technique and report back to me later.
After Lee was given the chance to use my reading technique, she reported positive results. Because she defines herself as a visual learner who requires multitasking in order to learn, she found my color-coding technique to help her immensely. Relating the technique to doodling during a lecture, she explained, “highlighting with different colors works well with me because I like color-coordination and know how to use it well.” She did however mention that because school textbooks are borrowed, she was not able to use the technique with those texts.
From interviewing and tutoring a student from an art class at Hays Consolidated Independent School District’s Dahlstrom Middle School, I was given the opportunity to view literacy within a new perspective. After talking with middle school student, Lee, and teaching her a new technique, I was given the chance to explore her thoughts and discover her insights. From this interview, I was able to witness literacy through the eyes of a student.