Over half my day is spent working with students in Kindergarten through third grade who need extra help with reading and writing. I have always loved the challenge of working with these kids who need support to become effective readers.
Though the rest of my day is spent doing other miscellaneous literacy focused activities (not the point of this slice!), the last few years I have also added two groups of fifth grade students who are extremely capable readers to my week. Their exuberance and quickly generated thoughts help to balance my week.
With each group a book is selected and together we decide the length of the reading for the week. Since we only meet once a week, it takes several weeks to complete a book. The weekly discussions revolve around the questions and wonderings they have had for the week. We strive to have it interactive without raising their hands as in the larger classroom setting.
At the end of a book we recently completed, I asked them to take two weeks and choose a way to reflect on their reading. Though I offered some suggestions, they were encouraged to put their self-motivation and creativity to work.
The day they brought their “projects” to school they charged into my room, most pleading to share first. I had to control my jaw from dropping as they began their sharing. The first girl whisked her memory stick out of a pocket, placed it into my computer as if it were her own, turned on the smart board and was good to go. She very confidently presented her PowerPoint complete with bulleted highlights while perched on my stool. Next was a boy who accessed his home personal website and opened his project from there. He had created a portrayal of his favorite parts of the book and an aerial view of the train station from the description in the book. He used virtual Legos from a website he knew to do this. Next came the student who asked where the electrical outlet was. He had brought sections of his train set and characters designed from actual Legos which he used to reenact favorite scenes. Another girl developed an abbreviated version of the story written as if an important character had not been in the story. She wrote extensively about how all the other characters and events would have been effected.
Each reflection presented was so individual and filled with thought beyond most 10 year old students. What a pleasure it was to observe! None of these depictions had been on my suggestion sheet or discussed in our conversations (hooray!). I felt such admiration for their creativity, ingenuity and self-motivation. I have little doubt that their success will continue as they head to the Middle School next year.