Friday, March 13, 2009

This weekend is brought to me by the letter L

Ladies and gentlemen, we have our first grade-level reader.

OK, that's not entirely true. I've had kids reach grade level (and surpass it!) after transferring out of my group. And I've had kids reach grade level who started out in the teacher's group, came to my group after falling behind and ended up going back to the teacher's group. But Dalya is my first student who started with me, below grade level (although juuust barely below), at the beginning of the year who is now on grade level. (Grade level for this point in the school year for second graders is level L. Sample level L book: the Pinky and Rex series by James Howe -- can you tell I still have series books on the brain? And remember Bunnicula, also by James Howe? Anyway.)

She is my first L reader, and it couldn't have happened to a nicer kid -- first of all, the other day I moved her to K, and she's been walking around beaming and hugging her book baggie full of K books, so you can imagine how excited she was to be an L reader, and then I actually got a "Thank you for moving me to level L, Miss Brave."

In other happy running record news, Azul has moved to F. Unfortunately, he has been driving me a little crazy lately, but it is a riot to watch him read -- in the beginning of the year, he was a complete clown during running records, turning to me after each page with a huge exaggerated grin on his face as if to say, "See? I can read this!" But today he was all business, absolutely poker-faced, hunched over the book and taking deep breaths as if to pump himself up for every tricky word.

Too bad the level G texts are ridiculously hard. One is about a boy dancing at a Native American powwow...'cause my eight-year-olds who live in New York City really have the mental capacity to conceptualize a powwow. Also, he's wearing a headdress and they always think he's a girl. Today one kid told me that he was "dancing in water" because the page background happened to be blue. The other G book is about a boy whose family is moving, and he projects all his negative feelings about moving onto his pet fish, so he's all, "Flipper likes his friends and his school, he will miss them if he moves away," and then on moving day his family gets into the elevator and goes up, not down, and the boy is all, "Who lives on this floor?" and his parents are all, "We do now!" and then the kid (and his fish!) are both happy. I have read this book about fifty times and only once has a student fully understood that (a) fish don't attend school so obviously the boy is referring to himself and not Flipper and (b) the family actually just moved to another apartment in the same building so the boy is happy because he doesn't have to move away from his friends. It's not like the boy says, "Wow, this is great because this apartment must be zoned for the same school I currently attend!"

First of all, what kind of neglectful, twisted parents don't tell their sad, worried child that they are actually just moving up two flights of stairs and not, you know, out of the city? Second of all, while the boy is packing he says, "I put everything in the box except Flipper," which makes all the kids think that the boy is sad because he's not allowed to take Flipper with him to the new apartment (because the new apartment building doesn't allow fish? I don't get how their minds work either, I'm just the reading teacher). Usually I manage to interrogate the answers out of them (me: "Why doesn't the boy want to move to a new apartment?" Kid: "Because Flipper will miss his friends and his school." Me: "Do fish go to school?!" Kid: "No..." Me: "So who do you think the boy is really talking about?" Kid: "Um...himself?" Me: :::mental ding ding ding:::)

Meanwhile, the level H book is about this boy whose mother's car breaks down, so every day they try to get to school a different way but there's always some wacky problem (like they get on the wrong bus and it takes them to the beach, or they get on the ferry but it's bumpy and they feel sick), and the only inferring required is the monumentally stupid question of why the boy and his mother look so happy at the end of the story. (Actual answer: because their car is fixed. Miss Brave's personal answer: because he managed to weasel out of an entire week of school! With the consent of his hapless mother!)

I'm pretty sure this entry reflects the fact that I drank a large coffee and a caffeinated soda today, the fact that it is Friday, and the fact that I am still drowning in a vast sea of work created by our series book club unit, a unit that has me so ensnared in its clutches that I actually dreamed about it all night.

There are fifteen weeks until summer!


Mamie said...

I have looooooong felt that a council of imbeciles chooses the benchhmark texts for reading levels - in every school/district I've been, whatever the assessment program, the test books are ALWAYS moronic. WHY? there are OODLES of wonderful books from Wright Group, Rigby, Newbridge, etc. - the very ones are kids are reading all along. WHY are the ones we must use for assessment running records ALWAYS the stupidest of the lot? That being said, congratulations on your (your kids') successes. It's been several years since I last taught 1st and 2nd grades, but ohhhhhh how I remember the triumph of struggling readers making progress. Way to go, you and your students!

Jason Oller said...

I was a voracious reader in second grade. I read over 350 books at or above the second grade level just that year.

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