by Taina Casimir, CM-Franklin D. Roosevelt Elementary
I LOVE READING. Today, my kids did, too! I’m a tutor/mentor in the 6th grade. Things often go awry. Kids get moody, or distracted, or are just disinterested.
Today…everything just…worked! I try not to come in with my hopes too high because they rarely focus as much as you’d like, or get as far as you know they can but today…today they astounded me! First, we started reading a book in a girl’s small-group; seven of my 6th grade girls came out of class with me for it. Of course, there was the usual excitement at being out of class and the accompanying chit-chat. In addition to that, some of them were “the” 6th grade girls: the junior plastics (See: “Mean Girls”). However, we wrote expectations for our group before reading. I told them I wanted them to come up with the expectations themselves, that way if they didn’t keep them, they’d have their own selves to blame. Everyone participated in making the list. We wrote out 10 expectations to govern our behavior during small-group time. I said that whenever someone was breaking a rule, I’d just mention the # expectation they were dishonoring to remind them to get in line. They wrote all ten on an index card, and referenced them to keep themselves and each other in line. Not a single cat fight broke out. IT WORKED!
I gave them another index card to use as a bookmark. On it, I told them they should write words they couldn’t pronounce or didn’t know the meaning of. At first, I’d have to make them pause in between paragraphs and prompt them to write words I knew they didn’t know. Pretty soon, however, they were pausing in between their reading to write words down themselves. And when it seemed a lot of them were stumped on the same word, they had small discussions using context clues to figure out the meaning. IT WORKED! We got through the whole first chapter today. Everyone was genuinely interested. Everyone is excited to come back tomorrow! IT WORKED!
When I returned the girls to their English class, the teacher asked if I would mind taking out another group for small-group reading. WHAT?! Of course, I don’t mind! TWO PULL-OUTS BACK TO BACK?! I live for this! So, I end up with a group of four boys and I was a little sad because none of them were the kids I usually try to spend targeted intervention time with (the ones that are off-track academically and need individualized or small group time). Then the teacher decided he would send out one of my girls that I wasn’t able to get into the girls reading group. She has a hard time focusing and its worse when she’s with her girls so it’s probably best she ended up in the group with the boys. The passage ended up being about the origins of baseball and the (lack of) black history in it. I was afraid I might lose them since its nonfiction, vocabulary heavy, and they’re so easily distracted. However, we went over the vocabulary terms first and we discussed. They asked questions throughout the reading and voiced their opinions on what they were reading. Everyone managed to stay involved; with a little redirection and guided reading, we got through the entire passage with time to spare for further discussion! IT WORKED!
Today taught me to have a little faith in my kids and a little faith in me. Today has been a great day