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When they don’t work February 24, 2009

Posted by mrsmerritt in Lessons Learned.
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I knew from the first day that if one of my native speaking students decided not to cooperate I would have a problem. Thus far, I have been able to overcome the simple issues. For example, when one student stopped keeping a running list of unknown words I told her she must be ready for a book at a higher level. She nearly hyperventilated when I bumped her up from Junie B Jones to Escalofrios. But, she immediately resumed keeping a list of unknown words. Then recently one student was only averaging 6 pages from the Casa del Arbol series a day. I checked the reading logs of all the students who had read from the Casa del Arbol series and they ageraged 25 pages per day.

The first delima was that I don’t have a lot of time to talk one on one with these students. My time with them is in passing, at the beginning of class, during music time, at the end of class. I have really learned the value of sticky notes here. There is a box on the wall that contains their reading logs and book packets. They know on Monday to pick up a new reading log. When they finish one book, there is magically a new packet waiting for them in the box. I use their reading logs to see how close they are to finishing their books. I periodically ask them what direction they want to go with future books. Do they want to switch series, keep with the series they are on? Based on that I keep their packets ready and waiting for them.

So back to the girl only averaging 6 pages. I knew it wasn’t a difficulty problem because I looked at past reading logs and she had read books at higher levels previously. The problem really was that the girl in front of her (who incidently is failing conversational Spanish) talked to her during class. First, I left my heritage reader a sticky note telling her that last week she had averaged 6.5 pages per day and I expected her to average 26 pages per day.

Then I decided that the next day I would offer her some alternatives. There is an office connected to my classroom. It is primarily used by my teacher’s aid so there is nothing sensitive or valuable in there. I told my student that I understood that what was going on in class could be really distracting. If she needed a quieter place, she could go read in the office. She could only stay in the class if she could meet my reading expectation. That day she read 40 pages.

As it happened, in that class she is the only heritage reader. I don’t know what I will do when it happens in a class where there are several readers because there is no way they are all going to the office. I already tried letting them all go to the hall to read. That was disastrous. It took them 2 weeks to read Pobre Ana, a Spanish 1 reader, out in the hall.

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