November 7, 2016

First Reading Day!

Video here!

In Spanish One and French One, we spent the first quarter of the school year happily creating characters with One Word Images, telling their stories, and telling stories of Invisibles created by members of the class. The characters and their stories were much-loved by the kids, and by me. The students soaked up a lot of language from our interactions and the work we did together.

We wrote up those stories together, with the students dictating to me, mostly by answering questions because these guys are still Novices in speaking, the details of the stories. We reviewed the stories using Reading Options. So the kids were indeed seeing the written language. But we did not bust out any books till today.  I wanted their first steps to be enjoyable and successful, so I put it off till the second quarter.

It was worth the wait. What a sweet moment, to see the kids eagerly cracking open the texts: Reading A-Z levels A-C paperbacks I downloaded off the internet, our class stories that I ran off on the copier, K-2 grade leveled readers that I inherited from the Spanish Immersion classroom, and very, very easy native-speaker children’s books.

We have not tackled any TPRS readers yet. Even the easiest of them is too challenging to truly plant the seeds of a reading habit. Maybe by April I will put them out there as a choice, or hook a kid up with them if they ask me personally. Right now, I just want them holding books with a lot of extra-textual support, to get the kids’ confidence up with all the nice-looking pictures supporting highly-comprehensible text.

It was such a joy to watch my students settle into their books, a sense of happy ease blanketing the class, and see them wander off into French and Spanish reading, taking their first steps into easy, fun books that would hold their hands as they toddle off on their own.

I posted a video of the pep talk I gave the class (about 25 minutes worth of pep talking!), but here are the main points I told them:

1. We are awesome. Our proficiency in reading, listening, and writing is off the dang charts for a first-semester group, kids.
2. You are already writing great volumes, with high fluency. To raise the level of your writing, we need to nudge you towards greater accuracy.
3. My marking your errors will not help. Reading a lot will help.
4. Although I do like reading, I will not be reading because I will be watching you to make sure that you are choosing books that you can keep your attention on. I will be assessing you on observable behaviors that strong readers do – eyes on the text, not flipping through the pages, choosing books that you enjoy, and settling into the book with focus. These demonstrate that you are building a reading habit.
5. I will not ask you to do a reading log, or summaries, or lists of vocab. words. I will instead sit here and watch you and help guide you to find texts you enjoy and WANT to read. Anyways, those things just take time away from the fun stuff – reading cool books and talking about cool characters and their fun stories.

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About Lanny Ball

For more than 23 years, Lanny has taught, coached, presented, staff developed, and consulted within the exciting and enigmatic world of literacy. With unyielding passion and belief in the possibility of workshop teaching, Lanny has worked to support students, teachers, and school administrators around the country in outgrowing themselves as both writers and readers. Working first as a classroom teacher, then as a coach and TCRWP Staff Developer, Lanny is now a literacy and reading consultant in Northwestern Connecticut. Outside of literacy, he enjoys raising his three ambitious young daughters with his wife, and playing the piano. Find him on Twitter @LannyBall, as well as his literacy blog: lannyball.com or lannyball.blog.

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