We started today by sharing what we wrote at the end of class yesterday about good readers and writers and how we saw ourselves as readers and writers. Adam named his sister as someone whom he thought of as a good reader because “she has patience to read every word carefully.” This makes sense, we’ve talked about reading too fast and not being able to remember what we read. Adam named one of his best friends as a good writer, the reason was that “she writes really neat and spells realy (sic) well.” There really seems to be a disconnect between what I mean by writing and what he means. He is stuck on the physical action and aesthetic aspects of writing; I am talking about the act of getting thoughts out of your head and onto the page. We talked about that when we shared and I think that I’m starting to make what I mean when I talk about writing and writers clear. This does illustrate a challenge for Adam, he has difficulty with writing stamina and messy handwriting (it is a bit better than mine!). I’ve started to address this today with a writing activity I’ll describe in a bit. Adam describes himself this way: “I am a fast non-carful (sic) reader that skims over to get the important facts out of the book.” This isn’t a surprise as we’d already talked about this and making an effort to read slower.
This was a good segue into talking about what Adam does as he reads. I gave him a bookmark yesterday that has reading strategies on it – Visualize, Question, Connect, Clarify, Predict, Summarize and briefly talked about each. He says that he visualizes, and in fact his imagination works overtime (and this is why the movie version of books always ‘suck’). We also discovered that he makes connections and will sometimes ask questions (specifically why a character made a choice that Adam didn’t agree with). I asked what he did if he read something and didn’t understand it and he answered that he’d ask his mom or a teacher, or keep reading and hope that it was made clear. So though he didn’t name “clarify” he has ideas about how to do that.
During silent reading time I asked him to make a connection (text to text/self/world) while reading. I also told him that we’d be writing down the page number we ended on, summarizing what we just read, putting our thoughts down, making the connection, and predicting what happens next (I did all these things too). When we finished all this and shared I asked him if he had read at his normal speed (his summary had specific details so I was curious), and he said that he tried to read slower! Having Adam write after he reads serves two purposes, one it gives him a purpose for reading and two makes him think about what he’s read afterward. I won’t do this every time as I do want him to be able to just read with no expectation attached to it, and I’ll always tell him before hand if he’s going to write afterward.
We talked about the goals we’ll be working on. A fourth was suggested by my coach (and is was a goal but it isn’t one of the official goals for his stage of literacy development).
- Increase motivation to read and write
- Increase fluency in reading and writing
- Develop awareness and use of study strategies
- Sees self as a reader and writer.
And we talked about how we’ll approach them.
- Positive reading/writing experiences. Books he enjoys, writing activities that he enjoys or sees the benefit/purpose of.
- Slowing down while reading, practice/ VOLUMINOUS interactions with text.
- Direct instruction on the strategies (he really already knows them but to formally acknowledge them), modeling their use, and practice using them.
- All of the above! Positive reinforcement for the work he’s doing.
The only feedback that Adam gave when asked was that “I really need to read slower”. I will put these goals and how we’ll achieve them on chart paper to leave up as a reminder to both of us. I really think that sharing what we’re working on and why and how is important with the student is important and I think that Adam appreciated the opportunity to not only be told all those things but to give input on all those things (even though he didn’t have much to give). It provides a sense of ownership and collaboration in learning that is important to me to foster in students and between students and teachers.
We did a writing activity so that I could see what Adam’s writing stamina was like, what kind of prompt appealed to him, and to model writing for him. The prompts I gave him to choose from were:
- “I felt something slither across the back of my ankles and I . . . “
- If you had your own country what would you name it and what kind of place would it be to live in.
- Respond: The needs of the many outweigh the need of the few.
- Free write
When I read the third choice aloud I mentioned that it was connected to the article he read during the IRI on dropping the bomb on Japan during WWII. He had said that it was right because the lives saved outweighed the lives lost. He chose the second prompt to write about and got stuck trying to think of a name but when I told him to come back to it he wrote for the full time (8-10 minutes). He talked about what he wrote instead of reading it (I just asked what he had written) and I did the same but quoted from what I wrote to give him an idea that he can talk about and read what he wrote, they don’t have to be mutually exclusive. I learned that Adam is will to work, he claims he struggles with writing for any length of time but seemed to have no trouble and certainly didn’t complain about it. Motivation may have played a role in this though. I’ll see how he does when a prompt is given to him and his choice is more limited.
We also talked about some projects we might do. I was surprised to hear that he didn’t really do any Language Arts projects last year, mostly tests (yuck!). We might try a comic strip, or book poster, or fake Facebook wall for a character.
Now I have to plan for tomorrow before I go to work tonight.
You can read about class one here. My summer journey – class one
You can read about class two here: First class with students
You can read about class three here: Day three – the IRI