Monday, December 12, 2011

When Things Click

You know those days when you work and work with a certain students and there doesn't seem to be much progress and then ...BOOM, they blow your mind with what they've accomplished? Yep, we've all had those moments. I wanted to share with you the success of a student that we'll call Allison. Allison is a good-natured student who wants to do well in school, but she really struggles with reading and math. She not only is missing some key elements in her phonics understanding, vocabulary, and comprehension strategies, but she also doesn't know her basic math facts. 

When I do intervention or mini-lessons across content areas, Allison is there with me 95% of the time. I have to hand it to her, she never gives up. Then, the day before we take our reading test, she opens up her reading book and I notice all of these hot-pink sticky notes stuck all throughout the selection. Now this is a strategy that I've led her through many times (in reading and other content areas), but this time I hadn't done it with her. In fact, I hadn't even suggest that she do it. I asked her to share with the small group what she had done and as she explained it, she got out some blank sticky notes and started guiding them through her process.

photo by avrene
She showed them how to write notes on words she was unsure of as well as the vocabulary words. She picked out the setting, characters, problem, solution, author's purpose and examples of cause-effect and main ideas and supporting details on each page. She said she wasn't sure what to focus on so she had taken time each time she had read the selection at home to pick out each of the different strategies or skills. (as a side note, the students are not assigned the selection to read at home; all reading is done in class...she did this because she wanted to do it)

By the end of the our group time, she had led these struggling readers through a thorough evaluation and analysis of the selection. They were all focused on what she was saying. Allison doesn't usually volunteer to take a leadership role, but this time she did. She took ownership of her own learning and the skills and strategies that she had learned and she wanted to share them with others.

Of course, it probably goes without saying...she aced that test and so did the others in her group. She now is reminding the other struggling readers of what she taught them and giving them other advice. She asks me questions to make sure she's on the right path, but she has taken these skills and she is running with them. Don't you just love it when everything just clicks?

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