I’m a Literacy Specialist. In my district, my job description includes pull-out and push-in instruction. I believe in both. I believe that some children, in K and 1, benefit from the quiet, small group, 2 on 1, or sometimes 1:1 instruction. I also believe in working in partnership with classroom teachers to push in and provide small group instruction – strategy groups, guided reading. I hope that the roles I play in the school, help grow readers and relationships.
This year I push into all four of our first classroom for Readers Workshop twice a week. I’ve been at it since September. I know the kids pretty well and I’d like to think they know me. My routine, if you can call it that, is to pull a small group one day, leave the children with either a book or “work”, then check in with a conference or a running record to see how the reader made out with the “work”.
Last week, I pulled a group of readers that Amy and I thought needed some comprehension work. With Jennifer Serravallo’s reading hierarchy in mind, and knowing they had just come out of the Unit of Study on Character, I planned to teach them that readers pay attention to what characters say.
Once the class was settled in their reading spots. I whispered to Olivia and Thomas, “We’re going to have a group. Can you bring a book you know well to the rug?”
We all got comfy and close.
“Olivia and Thomas. Mrs. Howland and I were talking. We think that you two are the kind of readers who are ready to do some deep character work with your books. Because in the kinds of books you all are reading, you really need to pay attention the characters, what they say, what they do and think about how they are feeling.”
They leaned in. They were hooked! Their faces are told me they want to know more.
Just as I was about to show them how readers pay attention to what characters say and then stop and think about how they are feeling, Owen appeared, towering over us.
“Excuse me, Mrs. Sherriff.” He whispered politely – respecting the readers scattered about the room.
He looked right at me.
“Can I join the group?” He asked nonchalantly. (Now this happened a few weeks ago in another class and for a split second, I wondered if Mason had told Owen that you could ask to join a group – nah)
“Sure, Owen. You are ready to do this work as a reader, too. Go get a book from your bag that you know well.”
Thomas, Olivia and I waited for Owen. He returned quickly and took a seat in between Olivia and Thomas.
We continued, we worked together to find things that characters say in the books and then we shared about how the character is feeling. We did one together. Then they each did one independently with their own book. They shared. They seemed to be embracing this thinking work that readers do.
“I think you’ve got it. So here’s your post it as a reminder about the work you can do as a reader. I’ll check in with you next time I am in for Readers Workshop.”
They each took their post-its and books and went back to independent reading. I checked in with one more reader. Exchanged “I think that went well” look with Amy, and headed out the door to another class.
Fast forward a week, maybe more. Honestly can’t remember thanks to three Nor’easters, which interrupted our work!
I am sitting in my room listening to Millie read The Gecko That Came to School. It’s nice and quiet except for Millie’s voice. Out of the corner of my eye, I see someone come in. I look up, it’s Zoe and Owen. They pause not sure if they should interrupt Millie’s reading. She hasn’t noticed the guests, the escaped gecko has her attention.
Millie senses their presence and stops reading.
“Mrs. Howland wanted us to share this with you.”
Zoe goes first, she shares a piece of writing about her dream of becoming an Olympic skier. She reads it with pride.
Then Owen shares.
“I did the work, Mrs. Sherriff. I did the character work.” I listen and look while Owen shares his deep thinking about character. I am proud of him and his independent work. I guess the small group work stuck.
I listen and think…a reader, a writer, and relationships, all growing.