March 3, 2018

Elena reads with me every day at 12:00. She has just finished her snack, adjusted her cat-ear headband, picked up her bag of books, and skipped out of the classroom. Reading with Elena has reminded me of childhood joys and confusions. She is effervescent in her enthusiasm for rainbows, unicorns, and kittens. Everyday her outfits are planned even in their chaotic color schemes. One day, we read a book about the life cycle of the frog. She looked up with a bright smile and announced, “Tomorrow I’m going to wear my life cycle butterfly shirt. I have one!” I loved the fashion/book connections she makes.

Uncovering the factors inhibiting Elena’s reading progress continues to be a fascinating challenge. When I measured her reading rate at 27 wpm (2nd grade), I knew there was a mystery to solve. I watched her eyes and observed that she read every sentence silently before she read it aloud. I asked her if that was what she was doing. She said that she did that so she wouldn’t make mistakes. I assured her that she could keep reading aloud without reading silently first, and that she could trust me to help her if she came to a tricky spot.

I was reminded of childhood confusions when Elena reacted to the phrase, “the farmer planted a garden.” She looked up and said, “What? Everyone knows you plant SEEDS in a garden. You can’t plant a GARDEN in a garden!” Her exuberance filled the room. Sparkly eyes, dimpled cheeks, and bright smile were tough to argue with.

I suddenly remembered having a complete misunderstanding of the word “radar” as a six-year old. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t comprehend the phrase, “Speed checked by radar.” Who was radar? Was radar that huge machine I saw on the horizon? (Many years later, I learned that was a crane.) Would it pick up cars like the magnets in the cartoons I watched?

I was humbled and reminded that confusions are part of learning and need to be treated clearly and gently.

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lanny Ball
    Mar 03, 2018 @ 22:24:53

    Love the line, “I was humbled and reminded that confusions are part of learning and need to be treated clearly and gently.” So true, so simple…and yet forgotten so often. Sounds like Elena has an eagerness and love for learning that could carry her far. Thanks for sharing this slice!

    Reply

  2. Wayne Martin
    Mar 03, 2018 @ 22:43:31

    Thanks for sharing- Elena sounds likes she would bring lots of colour to your day đŸ™‚
    Working with ELS students, I witness the confusion that you detail here, everyday. Homophones always catch them out, and there I am talking about a the ‘right’ way of doing something and they are thinking I am referring to the word ‘write’. It’s moments like these that you come to appreciate just how complex the English language is.

    Reply

  3. Veronica
    Mar 04, 2018 @ 00:00:51

    Children are such a gift, even if they’re not our own. Thank you for reminding me today about the great gift of my vocation as teacher. đŸ™‚

    Reply

  4. franmccrackin
    Mar 04, 2018 @ 01:02:45

    Its good to remember that- just as a child has their own unique sense of aesthetics and fashion, they are also busy constructing their world. And we only catch glimpses of it. How wonderful that Elena brought forth your own memory of trying to put information together, to make the unknown known.

    Reply

  5. Debbie Lynn
    Mar 04, 2018 @ 05:07:16

    A very lucky girl to have a wonderful, understanding reading coach/buddy.

    Reply

  6. sallydonnelly11
    Mar 04, 2018 @ 09:07:02

    What a gift you are to Elena and Elena is to you. Your beautifully worded and detailed slice reminds me of WHY we teach. For the Elena’s!! So glad you are a teacher, noticing it all!! So glad I read this. More inspired to go to work tomorrow!!

    Reply

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