Tuesday. I am leaving on vacation in two days. Liz and Julianne will be helping H. while I am gone, and they drop in to spend the morning with us. Liz is the amazing teacher who connected me with H. She has tutored H previously, but didn’t have sufficient time or tools to achieve ‘take-off’ for him. Julianne is another teacher on sabbatical who is volunteering to help.
They arrive a bit early, so I show them some of the drills H. has worked on for the last week. Then H. arrives, and we get to work. First some drills, H. is still on words with 2- letter suffixes, getting smoother and smoother but still not ready to move on. Then we move to Goosebumps.
H. floors Liz with his reading. We’ve only been at it for slightly more than a week, but she sees that he is decoding more words and longer words, making fewer errors, reading more smoothly, and most importantly self-correcting when he struggles with a word. These happy results are the expected consequence of activating H’s phonological awareness, but it looks like magic. H is also nailing some complicated affix words like ‘definitely’ which would have been a mystery to him in the ‘visual-only’ days.
We talked a bit about morphology and the spelling program, Julianne was delighted with the ways that we can extract meaning from the structure of a word. I’m hoping she tries it with her classrooms.
We played the “Mindset” video. H. had already seen it, but it is worth repeating. Liz and Julianne were familiar with the idea but seemed not seen how the dramatic impact of correctly praising. And we kept going. H.did some more Blending drill, he wrote a hamburger essay about why cats are better than dogs, he did a repeated-reading drill, and then we read for another half-hour.
We noticed that H. had trouble understanding the story when Julianne read her parts. Our suggested remedy was for her to read much louder and with much more emphasis;, that surprised her because she thought she was already over-exaggerating, we asked her to go WAY over the top. That worked much better. She came up with another idea – to have H. doodle the story as she read, which also worked well. So both of these ideas go into our inventory of best practices.
H. has worked hard to make me look good today. Thank you H., I know you will read this one day.
He will be in good hands while I am gone.