Today I interviewed struggling fifth grade readers and they said things like, “I’m not afraid of big words any more.” And, “I know strategies now, like commas.” But the one I like best was this: “Books were boring for me, because I couldn’t read them. I’d just stop. I couldn’t figure out words. But now that I can read, they’re interesting.”
Part of my teacher story today included giving a final benchmark to a second grade reader, which went okay. Then the first grade group trouped in and I listened to one reader’s take on the text he read aloud last night. Obviously read to his parents who do not understand English, so he laid down the gist of the book and didn’t bother so much with decoding troublesome words. At least he was enjoying the story.
Next up, the new kinder buddy in the re-formed groups was a star of enthusiasm. This was his second day and he fairly beamed coming into the room, getting his writing book. He told me how proud of his reading Grandma was last night. This is a special kid, who is highly verbal and emotive, and who has changed the chemistry of the small group entirely. The reluctant reader girl is now wanting to show him the ropes and has forgotten to say “I can’t.” The quiet Spanish speaking boy is so concerned that it all goes well for their new comrade. I like this waked-up-ness.
After I sorted emails and prepped at lunch, the other kinder buddies came in, reading in B/C level texts now. My friend with the behavior chart decided to “get stuck” on the picture of a boy drawing, and the word drawing with the cue, “drrrr….” and hadn’t practiced it last night. so he figured I should do it. Surprisingly, I quietly gave him a countdown on “You try it,” then sent him back to class. No drama, no coaxing, just peace and calm for the kids who were enjoying reading. He was quietly floored, so I expect he’ll be better next class. I plan to start with a video of him I have on my phone, doing crisp pointing and fluently re-reading a text. Just to remind him who he really is.
The G.A.T.E. students came in for session two of distinguishing between an object and a project. We reviewed a TedTalk and viewed one and began drafting sections of their presentations. They are finally getting that Personal Learning Time (PLT) is a journey, not making up an artifact or sticking stuff on a presentation board. God, I hope so.
The best part, I think, was when they told each other mini stories — bits from their learning journey. Narrative works so well. it’s the Mother.
And then I reviewed my portfolio project, final conference with my principal in which I showed her how my goal to get kindergartners to move beyond “motoring through the text” to discussing titles, background knowledge, making predictions, appreciating the shape of texts, and recalling sequences as they read. This goal was a good leg up on what I’d like to do more effectively next year.
I think that the thread I can pull out of this day is the listening I’ve done. Listening to fifth grade self-reflection. Listening to readers. Listening to book talks. Listening to ideas about learning. Listening to my evaluator. Listening to my Mom.
I think I am ready for something mindless, like an episode of Gilmore Girls.