Sketch-To-Stretch: An alternative assessment of reading comprehension with reluctant writers

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McBride, Meghan
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Mount Saint Vincent University
Not all students have success with written reader-responses to texts and this is particularly true of reluctant writers. However, this lack of success does not mean such students fail to comprehend a text, its main idea, or the author’s intentions, only that they experience difficulty with expressing their understanding using traditional means. This thesis examines the use of sketch-to-stretch, a visual text strategy that invites students to respond to text with art, as an alternative form of assessment with reluctant writers. Undertaking a qualitative case study approach to teacher research, I endeavoured to gain insight into my practice and further my professional knowledge on how to best meet the needs of the reluctant writers in my class. Conducted during the 2012-2013 school year, the focus of this case study was a female reluctant writer in my third grade class at Queenstown Public School (The Peel District School Board). Data, comprised of artifacts the student produced as part of her everyday school experience, were collected and thematically analyzed according to presentation and audience; ideas and meaning making (text-to-self, text-to-text, text-toworld) and voice. Further data consisted of two normative attitude surveys, an exit survey and a personal reflective journal kept of my practice throughout the study. Results suggest that sketch-to-stretch is a viable alternative to assessing reluctant writers on text comprehension. When scored according to a common rubric, the student participant achieved markedly higher levels in demonstrating her understanding of a text using sketch-to-stretch than with traditional written reader-responses. The sketch-to-stretch strategy, as a form of assessment, offers students the opportunity to demonstrate their learning and understanding in a creative, anxiety-free forum. It is one more way teachers can meet the needs of their diverse students while still ensuring accountability of learning.
Sketch-to-Stretch , Writing--teaching , Reading comprehension