My classroom is not a quiet, orderly place.
Students are constantly moving, thinking, talking, reading and writing.
I do my best to help my students find success.

October 15, 2013

Building relationships

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Two Writing Teachers
Last year, I worked with a group of 4th and 5th graders, all afternoon, in an intensive reading intervention program.  By May, the kids were exhausted, I was jumping out of my mind with stress.  There was no time to talk about books, and very little time to connect. We had to stay on task, work well in a group of eight, and push through.  We weren't having any fun.  At all.

This year, I have three of those students (now 5th graders) in a small group.  I started out the year excited to see them... forgetting how tough the end of last year was.  I let them know that I had picked them specifically to work with me - we would be working with a new intervention program, and we were going to be talking about books....ALL THE TIME.

I talked with them about writing about books in a journal.  They decided that each of them would pick a day to write:  Mon, Weds, Fri.  They were good about it the first week (especially after I gifted them a beautiful - yet inexpensive - new journal), and they are working to get back in the habit.

The girls are really trying their best when they come.  I am being patient and helpful.  I'm modeling and asking more questions.  I give them time to discuss what they are thinking while we read.  Some of our small but significant successes:

  • S has finished!!! reading THREE graphic novels (this is the same girl who announced "I don't like books" - while B gasped in horror - during our first meeting).
  • S has encouraged T and B to also read graphic novels (Babymouse and Smile top the list)
  • B has reminded S that we all need a turn to talk.  She is the model for waiting and not interrupting.
  • T is carrying many books (old habits die hard), but she is concentrating on reading Double Fudge and working hard to understand the story.
  • T is our lead note-taker. She understands how to find evidence in the text.  She helps S and B do the same in a kind way.
Today I was given a chocolate bar from S.  It even had a little bow.  I profusely thanked her.  Later, I wrote a thank you note to each of the girls, pointing out how they've been working hard and contributing to our small group discussions on books.

Does every day roll smoothly with these girls?  Nope.  Do we all want to accomplish the same thing?  Yes.  They know they are off to junior high next year, and there's not much time to become more confident and proficient readers.

I'm happy to help.


  1. Wow! Sounds like there is a whole lot of growing going on! And they are growing into readers, not just test takers! Hurray for great books! And I love the chocolate with the bow! Relationships matter!

  2. You are growing readers, Chris! (And chocolate will help to feed them in more ways than one.)

  3. This year sounds much more like real reading and learning - enjoy! And congratulations on the successes.

  4. Sometimes the smallest successes end up being the biggest of all. I am sure they will carry with them the memories of this time with you to junior high next year.