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Initial student reaction January 30, 2009

Posted by mrsmerritt in Getting Started, Lessons Learned.

Now this was a treat for me. My school district is big into “differentiated” curriculum. We are encouraged, nay, required to differentiate curriculum for every single sub group imaginable. So when I started making talk of a “heritage reading program” for the native speakers in my class I immediately started getting positive feedback from core curriculum teachers. Fuel to the fire.


The first day that I handed my native speakers the Blaine Ray readers and accompanying packets (a different reader for each student so that they could not collaborate) they objected. Loudly. They claimed that they couldn’t read Spanish.


Their whines fell on deaf ears. I told them that my second language learners were going to read in the target language starting on day 10. My second language learners were going to read the very novels that I was assigning them. If my second language learners could read those books, so could they.


Well, they crawled through those books at crippled turtle speed. Honestly, it took them twice the amount of time to read and do the packet for Pobre Ana as it takes my second language learners.


So, I had a little chat with them. I gave them reading logs (see top tab labeled tracking and look for the form there) and told them they would be accountable for the number of pages they read every day.


You could smell the panic in the air. Half of them immediately went to see the counselor. They told the counselor that they wanted to transfer out of Spanish. Suddenly, they were native speakers who didn’t really need to be in conversational Spanish level 1.


I took my then small book collection and packets down to the counselor’s office. I showed them the newly developed reading log and explained the program as it existed at that time. I told them those native speaking students just didn’t want to do the work. They didn’t want to read.


Well, you know how educators feel about reading. It is the number one best way to improve vocabulary in any language. It is also shown to improve standardized test scores. Our school counselors were all over my newly developed reading program. Praises filled the air.


I warned the counselors that those little cherubs, who were suddenly thrown into an elective that would take effort, would try to get their moms to call and get them removed from class. I told the counselors that I didn’t want to see that happen.


Who knows what I was thinking. I guess I was spending hours every night reading and preparing packets, those children were not going to transfer out.


I walked straight from the counselors’ office to the vice principal over curriculum. I showed her my budding program. I told her I didn’t think those students should get to transfer out just because suddenly they had to do some work. Not only did she agree, but she thought I was a hero in education.


I wasn’t even out of her office before she had the principal on the line explaining what I was doing.


Despite the best efforts of my resourceful cherubs, they were not allowed out of my class.


After half the year 60% still don’t love reading. It has taken some effort on my part to build parameters into the program to keep them reading at the proper pace. But they read every day. Their reading in Spanish has improved measurably. My writing and mechanical understanding of Spanish has skyrocketed. I now check books out to some of the custodial crew at my school. I owe more money than I dare tell my husband to my amazon credit card. And I am totally addicted to reading (worse than before).



1. Aaron Wakling - January 31, 2009

Well said Great information, keep up the great work!

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