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Final Reflection for Viterbo University

The following reflection is a summary of what going through the

Viterbo Reading #316 classes have meant to me. In the second
half of my essay, I will also address Viterbo Standard 11: The
teacher demonstrates personal qualities and values which reflect
the Franciscan values identified in the Viterbo University teacher
Going through this program over several years has taught me so
many things about reading. From a purely educational stance, it
has taught me:

How children differ in their developmental readiness for

reading, and how important it is to know where a student is on
that continuum when trying to move them forward. (Standard 2)
I learned so much from all of my classes, but especially from
taking PK-3 Emergent Literacy. There are so many stages that a
reader goes through at a young age. This year I am teaching
reading intervention to students in grades K-5 in two different
buildings. I have students who have come to me in the prealphabetic stage, and students who can decode and read fluently,
but need to work on their understanding of text. Each is in a
different place, and it is my job to know which stage they are in,
so I know how to best move them forward.
How this impacts students: I am a more effective teacher
because I know that I must help students through different stages
of development, like concepts of print or different parts of
phonemic awareness, or the alphabetic principle.

How to assess students in different areas of reading such as

accuracy, fluency, and comprehension and why it is important it is
to triangulate data when looking at a child. (Standard 8)
I learned the most from taking my Assessment and Practicum
classes. I learned how to use different assessments such as: the

San Diego Quick Assessment, the QRI-5, the STAR, PALS, and the
Benchmark Assessment Test. I learned which reading skills each
of the assessments measure, and what the strengths and
weaknesses of each assessment are. I also learned that you
cannot be dependent on a single test to make educational
How this impacts students: this also helps me be a more effective
teacher for my students because I am able to pin-point each
persons strengths and weaknesses. Careful formal and informal
assessmklm;.ent means there is less of a chance that I will reteach a skill they already know or miss one that I assume they
have. It also means that I will have documentation and progress
monitoring data for students who may eventually need the more
intensive services of special education.

Different research-based strategies to use with children to

remediate skill area weaknesses. (Standard 4)
I learned so many wonderful strategies for all of my classes, but I
learned the most in terms of remediation from taking Assessment
and Practicum. One of the strategies which I find very useful is
from the book, Intervention Strategies to Follow Informal Reading
Inventory Assessment. The strategy is called decoding by
analogy p. 84. In this strategy, when the reader comes across a
word he doesnt know, he uses a familiar word to try and decode
it. Thus, he may know the word look and by substitution he can
figure out the word took. Or if he knows the word, rain with
the ain ending, he can figure out harder words like, explain or
How this impacts students: they will increase their skill level in
reading because they have been taught using strategies which
are proven to be effective.

Different research-based strategies which can be used in all

classrooms for the benefit of all students. (Standard 1)

As I said above, I learned many wonderful reading strategies in all

of my classes. One that I learned from Content Literature is called,
Reading with Imagination from Doug Buell. In the strategy, the
steps are scaffold as follows:
a. The teacher brings an interesting object but unfamiliar
object for half of his students to examine. The other half are
not allowed to look, and instead have to wait until the
partner who saw it describes it to them.
b. The students practice describing objects to each other that
are not physically present, but are concrete.
c. The students practice describing a sequence of actions to
each other rather than a concrete object.
d. The teacher does a short read-aloud with imagery rich text
and then models what he/she sees in his/her imagination
e. The students describe what they see or draw a sketch of
what they visualize.
How this impacts students: that teachers will gain confidence
that we are all reading teachers to one degree or another,
and that a strategy that works well during intervention will also
benefit others in the classroom.

That packaged programs are not the most effective way to

teach a student how to read. We need to attend to each child as
an individual with unique interests, strengths and weaknesses so
that we do not kill their love for reading (Standard 7).
I learned the most about this from taking my Childrens Literature
class and reading the book, Readicide by Kelley Gallagher. This
book changed my perspective. Before reading it, I was a strong
proponent of canned reading programs. Coming from a special
education background, I was always worried about being able to
prove that what I was doing was research-based, and using a
program with a study attached seemed like the easiest way to
prove that. However, after taking that class, I realized that my
students are no different than most adults: we like to read what

we have a passion for. Give me a book I want to read, and I will

read for hours. Give me a book I am required to read, and my
attention wanders.
How this impacts students: My students are more excited and
passionate about reading. They enjoy the act of reading and their
stamina has increased. This leads to more reading, which leads
to higher test scores.

I also appreciated the opportunity for choice in putting

together some units on disabilities as part of the required
artifacts. Helping people understand how we are the same rather
than focusing on how we are different is a passion of mine.
(Standard 3)
I really enjoyed being able to combine some of my artifacts into
units of study on disabilities from my EDUC 605, 640 and 580
classes. I may not have taken the time to do this had it not been
for the class projects we were given. I was able to go back to my
school district and teach the unit to about 90 kids. One year later
some of the students come up to me in the hallway and tell me
how much they learned.
How this impacts students: Students develop more compassion
and understanding for one another. This way, kids are not singled
out or made to feel different if they need help in reading. They
make allowances for each others weaknesses, which makes them
better people.
On a personal level, the Viterbo #316 program has also taught
me the Franciscan values, which are broken down into the
acronym of CHRIST:
Contemplation, as we practice thoughtful reflection that invites
us to uncover truth and meaning in our knowledge, actions, and
decisions. Reflecting upon the presence of God in our lives and
work. Teachers help all students develop talents and abilities and

a sense of fairness and justice in promoting positive change in

the world and the individual.
I strive to demonstrate this quality by being the best teacher I
can be for my students. I do this by attending professional
development opportunities through the WSRA and the Middleton
Winter Institute. I subscribe to the Reading Teacher and look
for new strategies to bring to my students. I spend 2-3 hours a
week creating and adapting lesson plans for my students based
on their needs. I want my students to become the best readers
they can be. Nothing opens the door to a persons future more
than being literate, and there is joy in being a part of that for
Hospitality, as we open ourselves to our guests, students, and coworkers with respect and reverence for each persons human
dignity; welcoming everyone we encounter as an honored guest.
Teachers exemplify the belief that God is present in everyone.
Therefore, a teacher welcomes all students and fosters and
models an appreciation for a diversity of talents and abilities,
cultures and values.
I strive to demonstrate this quality as a teacher by making my
students feel welcome and accepted. Having grown up with a
mild physical impairment myself, I know how important it is for
kids to feel that they are part of a community. Every child is
unique and special and wants to belong. I know as struggling
readers get older, they need positive reinforcement so much in
order to keep trying. I work to praise my students more than
correct them. Its hard to let others see our weaknesses. One of
the best compliments I have ever received from a student came
while I was being evaluated for intervention. The student said,
Yeah, Mrs. Briggsshes my doctormy doctor of reading cause
shes making me better.
Reverence/Respect, as we embrace goodness, justice, and
fairness towards others.

I strive to demonstrate this quality by treating my students

equally, and having the same high expectations of all of them. I
know that some have more support than others and some have
more resources than others, but I try very hard not to let their
circumstances affect my expectations for them. For example, our
school district has a 65% rate of free and reduced lunch, so many
of my students do not have access to a computer. But I cannot
let that stand in the way of what I hope for them. There are
always ways around a problem if we want our students to be
Integrity, ethical conduct in all that we do, personally and
institutionally. Striving for honest in everything we say and do.
Teachers model integrity and foster the ongoing development of
integrity in their students.
I try to demonstrate this quality by treating other people the way
I would like to be treated. I know that we all have different
perspectives when it comes to a problem. We do not all see
situations or solutions in the exact same way. This year I have
been reading Steven Coveys, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective
People, and one of the things I learned is to try and understand
the other persons perspective before seeking to be understood.
I am a work in progress, but it is true that most conflict can be
worked through if we take the time to listen first.
Stewardship, as we practice prudent and responsible use of all
resources in our trust. Teachers give service to humanity and
teach stewardship of our planet and its resources.
I try to demonstrate this quality by using my resources wisely. I
try to use technology in the classroom, like computers and the
Smart board, rather than printing out books. I am an avid
recycler of paper, books, and other materials. I think its
important to teach my students to do the same because some
day they are the ones who will inherit problems like global

T-Teaching like Christ, in service, as we act and lead for the

common good in the spirit of humility and joy. Teachers believe
that teaching is a mission in the spirit of servant leadership.
Therefore, they model and promote joy in life and learning.
I try to demonstrate this quality by showing my students that I
care about them, that I want to help them if theyll let me, and
that I want whats best for them. The joy in teaching for me
comes from watching my students be proud of their own
accomplishments. For one of my students in kindergarten, it
might be learning the letters of his name or reading his first book.
For a student in 3rd grade, it might be decoding some really tricky
multi-syllabic words, and having the sense that I can do this!
For a student in 5th grade, it could come from understanding a
higher level comprehension skill, like figurative language. I want
to leave my students at the end of the year with a desire to read
and the knowledge that they can do great things if they believe in

Finally, I would like to end my reflection by saying thank you to

my instructors at Viterbo University for all of the wisdom they
have shared with me over the last several years. Thank you:
Lynda Fernholz, Sarah Larson, Tom Lueschow, Dawn Lindauer,
David Perrodin, and Kari Schultz.
I will take what I have learned from each of you to the next
generation. After all, that is what teaching is all about.
Respectfully Submitted,
Niki Briggs