As part of my push in work as a Literacy Specialist, I get to push in to two first grade and two kindergarten classrooms for Reader’s Workshop. The purpose of this push in work is to support small groups. The classroom teachers and I plan which groups each of us will take and at this point in the year, we know the readers pretty well, and know where they need to go. We find time to quickly connect and collaborate to target strategies and work for each reader. On my first day of the week in any given room, I am usually pulling the groups. On day two, I meet with individual readers, I call it “check in day”.
Today was a “check in day” in Leigh-Anne’s first grade classroom. I started with Michael whose goals are around print work and did a quick running record and comprehension check. I was able to watch him use multiple strategies and I witnessed the habits he is developing as a reader.
I moved on to Jesse. Jesse’s goals are around comprehension. During our small group last week, we talked about in the kinds of books they are reading, they need to pay attention to what characters say and do. “What characters say and do lets the reader know how they are feeling.” I told them. I left them with a post it reminder of the thinking work they needed to be doing.
So today, on “check in day”. I asked Jesse to bring his book and the post-it I had left with him. The conversation went like this:
“So, Jesse, can you tell me about this post it. Can you tell me about the kind of work you need to be doing in the kinds of books you are reading.”
“I need to pay attention to what the characters are saying and doing so I can understand the book and the characters.”
“Can you show me a part where you did that work?”
He flips through the book. I watch and wait.
“Here the mom says “Don’t put your feet on the sofa!” It has that exclamation mark so that means she yelling and she’s mad.”
He turns the page.
“And here, mom says, “No loud noise!” She’s yelling again so she’s mad. It keeps happening again and again. She’s really mad! And, Finley is not a good listener.”
“WOW. Wait a minute. You are telling me that if you pay attention to what a character says and how they say it, you can also learn about another character?”
“Well yeah! Mom kept yelling, she was mad, and it’s obvious Finley isn’t a good listener.”
“That is pretty cool, Jesse. You took something I taught you and you made it your own, you grew it!”
He smiled looked at me with wide open eyes and said,
“So, what you saying is that teachers tell us things and then we can, they expect us to add on?”
“Yes, Jesse, when you add on, when you grow what we teach you, that is the best kind of learning.”