Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Slice #2: Welcome to the Club, T!

T is a member of my second grade reading intervention group.
He is as nice a kid as you will ever find,
a hard, hard worker,
solemn, sweet, friendly
and as full of integrity as the day is long.  

The reading thing, however,  has not come easy for this little guy.
The state of Colorado measures reading growth using a tool called the DRA2.
By the end of kindergarten, kids are supposed to read at a Level 4. T was at a 1.
By the end of first grade, they should be at a 16. T was at a 4.
He loves to listen to stories, and talk about them,
but he just wasn't pulling things together himself.
We had read our way up to Level 10,
but then we got stuck.
For about a month, nothing happened.

And then yesterday, we had a major breakthrough.
There are usually four kids in his group,
but the three girls were creating a puppet show setting
and so I gave them the day off.
T and I sat on the floor with our latest read, All About Dinosaurs.
We had read the book the day before,
so the day's work was supposed to be about fluency.
D loved the book, and couldn't wait to talk about it.
He began with a diagram that compared a dinosaur to a school bus.
He though that that would be about two thirds as long as the classroom.
Maybe a little longer. We moved on to talk about several
other pictures, and then it was time to read.
I asked him what strategies he was using.
He told me he always looks at the pictures.
Some times he reads on or reads back.
Sometimes he uses his finger to cover the suffix,
a strategy we call big fat thumb
He had struggled horribly the last time
we had group, on the Friday before.
Today he started slowly and then picked up speed,
until pretty soon, he was actually reading,
word after word, sentence after sentence,
page after page
He closes the book
and finishes with a huge grin.
We visit the principal to share T's good news,
and then he decides he would like
 to tell his first grade teacher.
She is thrilled too, and invites her to come
and read to the first grade.

"The whole class," he says, "or just a few kids?"

"Which would you like?" she says.

T thought he should start with a small group.
Kathy invited him to come at 9:30.
This morning, I picked him up at 9:15,
because he had asked to practice one more time
We read through the book. He made more mistakes than he had made yesterday
and I was a little worried.

At 9:30 we headed into first grade.

"I don't have to read to all of these kids, do I?"

I reminded him that he had said he wanted to read to a small group.

He was relieved.

T sat in the teacher's chair at the back of the kidney table.

I could see his hands shaking.

I introduced him and then he told the kids about himself.

He said that he used to read a level 4,  but that he had worked hard,

and now he can read a level 18.

He told him that if they worked hard,

they could read too.

And then he started to read.

With each page, his voice got more confident.

When he had to problem solve,

he stopped at the end of the page

and we talked about what he had done.

He told the first graders he would love

to come and read again,

and that he would be glad to teach them some strategies,

If they told him which ones they wanted to learn.

He got up from the table, smiling.

Both Kathy and I were ready to cry.

Welcome to the club, T, welcome to the club!


Ramona said...

Wow! What a story. So happy for T! How empowering for him to read to a group of students and tell his story!

Cathy said...

This just made me smile. It's always nice to celebrate those little successes along the way. Sometimes I wish the world would give kids the time they need to learn to read without sending messages that they might not be the reader they should be. In Ohio, the third grade reading guarantee looms for our readers. I admire the hard work children willingly do each day to get better. Yay for T! May the successes continue to come his way.


elsie said...

Yay for T! He has a taste for the power of reading without struggling, so now may he continue on that road a reader travels. Kudos to you Carol for being right there to help him on this journey!

Chris said...

This story makes my heart sing! Congratulations to T and you and his teacher! His reading has gotten strong from his hard work and the confidence he has gained. HIP HIP HOORAY!