Wednesday. Today we wrote our first hamburger essay.
We had previously worked through some spoken essays – explaining the concept and trying some examples aloud. I had marked up essays in the New York Times to show how they followed the hamburger-essay pattern. Today I handed H. a pen and told him to write one.
To get things started, I asked ‘What did you do yesterday?’ and he responded ‘Nothing.’, so he is clearly well adjusted in his role as a teenager. But we agreed that he had done a few things, and he would write an essay about yesterday’s training.
It’s not impressive, but this may be the longest, and best organized piece of writing he has produced. Not quite a grade-8 essay yet, but he will improve quickly with practice.
We powered through the Blending drills, we have now started the fifth short vowel /eh/ and are contrasting it with the earlier ones.
We talked about how words change their sounds but the spelling gives a hint to their meaning. For example, ‘design’ sounds like it should be spelled ‘de/zyne’, and ‘signal’ doesn’t sound at all like ‘sign’, but they have the same spelling to show their shared meaning and origin.
And we read. We covered about 40 pages of Goosebumps in two sessions. I pointed out the construction of some tricky words, and checked in on his comprehension every few paragraphs, but mostly we just read and enjoyed the story together.
The hardest trick with fingerpoint reading is to help with the hard words your student needs to understand the story, but not offer them so fast that he doesn’t get to try them himself. I’m starting to get the rhythm of reading with H., when he decodes a hard word I congratulate him with a gesture that doesn’t interrupt his reading, when he struggles I try to give him a partial hint or a partial correction, and when he gets one wrong I say the correct one without stopping him. If a sentence was rough, I’ll re-read it at the end for him to make sure he understands it.
This Goosebumps is a great story. We are both enjoying it. And it is sweeter because we both see the obvious progress that H. is making.