Saturday, March 29, 2014

SLICE #29- On the other hand…

 Yesterday I wrote about how disheartened I'm feeling that so few teachers in my building are readers. On the other hand, I have kids, urban kids who come from homes where parents aren't well-educated, don't have money to buy books or go on vacations and speak English as a second or third or fourth language, who are in the process of becoming readers. Here are a few snapshots from Friday.

Friday morning. 9 a.m.. V waves when I walk in the door to his seventh grade Language Arts class and I walk across the room to greet him. This guy is an avid reader. He finished the Lord of the Rings trilogy in less than two weeks and needed something else. I gave him ERAGON less than a week ago.

"I'm almost done with the book," he says.

"Really? You need something else for break?"

V nods, almost apologetically.

"Will one be enough?"

"I'm not sure," he says. "It's nine days."

I head for the library and pull out ELDEST AND BRISINGR. The librarian is busy with a group, so I leave her a note, then return to the classroom and tell V to pick them up in a little while.

Later I run into the GT teacher, who also works with V.

"His father doesn't like all this reading," she tells me. "He told me yesterday he has to sneak and do it behind his back."

"Really?" I say. "Do you want me to call?"

"I already offered," she says. "He told me it was ok. That his mom is ok with it so he would just read when his dad was at work." She continues. "I was kind of surprised. His mom and dad have always been really concerned about his academics. They really want him to be the first person in his family to go to college. We've talked a lot about how important it is for him to read as much as he possibly can."

 11:00. I meet with my second grade intervention groups.  We've spent most of the year working on unknown word strategies and are now working on building fluency.  One of the ways we are doing that is by reading series books (not to be confused with serious books, which is what J calls them). One group is reading HENRY AND MUDGE. A second group is reading CAM JANSEN.

I prepare book bags for Spring Break. Each Henry and Mudge bag contains three books and a high frequency word list. The Cam Jansen bags have two books and a word list.

My second graders cheer when I pass them out.

It is after 5, Spring Break started two hours ago and the building is almost empty when I climb the stairs from my basement office. I am surprised to see L still standing by the front door. She tells me that she is waiting for her mom, who is ten minutes away.

"Got any plans for spring break?" I ask.

"Yeah," she says. "I'm going to hang out with B (her best friend). We're going to do stuff."

"What kind of stuff?" I ask.

"You know," she says. "Fun stuff."

"Like what?" I say.

"Oh, you know. Swimming. Going to the mall. Shopping. Going to the movies."

"What about reading?" I say, expecting her to wrinkle up her nose.

"Yeah," she says, smiling. "I'm reading a good book."

"You are? What is it?"

"It's called HOOT," she says. "But I can't remember the author."

"I've read that one," I say. "It's Carl Hiassen. If you like that one, you would probably also like FLUSH, by the same author. And then there are a couple of other similar ones."

"Really?" she says. "I'm gonna look for them."

"You should," I say. "He's a great writer."

"Ok, well, have a good break," she says, as her mom pulls up in front of the school.

"You too, sweetie, read a lot."

"Thanks. I will."


Linda B said...

Nice stories, Carol. You sound like you're a big part of this too!

Anonymous said...

I love that you are able to have such literate conversations with your students. I think it means so much to students when you, as a teacher, are able to recommend books that relate to their interests. I believe that shows that you value them as readers and individuals. One of my goals is to become more well read on recent literature from all genres so that I can be more effective as well. Thanks for sharing your story. It has renewed my purpose to do likewise.

Jone said...

Having reading conversations are the best. I am sorry to hear that you don't have them much with the staff at your school.

Chris said...

These stories are fantastic. I'm glad you are someone the kids can talk books with! Also a great reminder of some good books!

Judy said...

There's always another side to the story. I like how you used the time throughout the day to let us know this was more typical than atypical.

Enjoy your time off.

Tabatha said...

Yay! Love these stories.