Elizabeth Jones

Literacy Coach for Stonewall Middle School in Manassas, VA

Elizabeth Davis Jones serves as the Literacy Coach for Stonewall Middle School in Manassas, VA. In collaboration with George Mason University’s Game and Technology Academy, Ms. Jones is piloting an innovative reading intervention program for 8th-grade students, the first within Prince William County Schools. The reading intervention program focuses on teaching reading strategies through narrative story-based video game design and the writing workshop.

Ms. Jones’ graduated from Centre College with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education in 1993. She received her Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction, and her Reading Specialist Certification from the University of Kentucky in 1997. Presently, she is pursuing further studies in Education and Curriculum at Texas Tech University with a concentrate in language, diversity, and literacy studies as a doctoral student.
Ms. Jones has taught at the elementary and middle school level and as a reading specialist at a private AMI Montessori School in Lexington, KY. In her role as a literacy coach, Elizabeth works with the teachers to create and implement effective reading instruction at Stonewall Middle School. She also provides professional development for her school and Prince William County. Ms. Jones presented “Motivating Middle School Students with New Literacies” at the 2016 Middle School Conference in Manassas, VA. Her research interests include using new literacies and video games in writing workshops and effective literacy intervention in relation to adolescent learners.

Talk Description:

Using Video Games to teach Reading Strategies to Middle School Students

I would like to present the motivation and current findings of the action research in which I am currently involved. The following describes the project on which myself and my colleague are working. To discover the impact of gamification on Adolescent students’ literacy, Elizabeth D. Jones, the Literacy Coach at Stonewall Middle School, and George Mason Game and Technology Academy are working together to pilot a reading strategies class for 8th-grade students needing reading intervention at Stonewall Middle School in Prince William County in Manassas, VA. This class will focus on teaching reading strategies through the narrative story-based video game design. This new, innovative class and its findings will provide far-reaching implications for adolescents, literacy, and new technologies. Stonewall Middle School is in a large middle school with 1006 students. 65% of our students were at-risk for academic failure, and more than 600 were reading below grade level, according to the SRI scores from 2015-2016. Unfortunately, Stonewall Middle School did not make accreditation for the 2015-2016 school year. Only 73.67% of the seventh-grade students, who are currently 8th-grade students, passed the Reading Standards of Learn Virginia State Assessment (SOL). Having mean scaled scores in the report category that were below 40, suggests the rising 8th graders struggle with demonstrating comprehension in nonfiction and fictional texts and using word analysis strategies and word reference materials.”A reporting category scale score of 40 or above indicates a potential area of strength for students in the school who attempted the test” (VA Assessment Program, 2015). Students who do not score a 400 on their Reading SOL are to receive 10 hours of reading remediation. In the past, the students who have been required to take the reading strategies course have either received the instruction through 3 weeks of summer school or in place of an Encore class during the school year. Instruction has varied in length dependent upon the number of students in the school needing remediation as one reading specialist was responsible for providing the instruction and curriculum. The previous pull out program had an adverse effect on the students, as they see themselves as failures and non-readers. Many believe they will be unable ever to pass and SOL. As a goal of meeting our student’s needs and motivating struggling readers intrinsically, we considered our students’ interests and needs. Students were surveyed at the end of the 2015-2016 school year. What class would they create to learn more about reading strategies? Many of them were inspired by video games. According to James P. Gee (2003), “challenge and learning are a large part of what makes good video games motivating and entertaining.” Therefore, we set out to discover the empowerment providing in the combination of video games and literacy. We hope to find the answers to the following questions: How are students’ literacy skills influenced by taking an intervention class based upon principals of gamification and student-centered literacy practices? How does this approach impact students’ social identity as readers and writers?

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