Thursday, January 7, 2010

If you can't beat 'em ...

My friskiest class. Many drummers, dreamers, gigglers. I work hard staring them down into silent reading in the beginning of class each day. There are few I cannot reach.

Al is one of them.

Al was diagnosed borderline ADD/ADHD. Borderline my foot. He is a bright, genial, popular kid who rarely finishes an assignment in one shot. I adore him, but he is a lot of work.

Al is not a reader. He once tore through the improbable Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. Nothing since. He kindly flips through the first pages of any book I hand him, but nothing has caught his attention.

Until today.

Today, about twenty minutes after reading time had ended, I see he has a book open, and is holding it for Bob to see. Bob is a quiet, well-behaved kid. A follower. The two read together.

I want to present material, but stop and wait for the two to give me their attention. They do not. The class tells them, "Teacher is waiting for you!" - to no avail. Someone nudges Bob ... and he gives me the "wait-one-minute" finger! I do not usually laugh -- but this was too much! The kids go wild. "Oh, no you di-int! You did NOT tell Miss to wait!" And still ... the boys do not break concentration.

I'd planned to have the class read a little passage and practice Costa's Level One and Level Two questions. Instead ...

I sat down beside the boys. Invited them to take over. Al looked at me -- "You serious? Want me to read this to everyone?" Without further adieu, Al and Bob took turns reading the first three or four paragraphs.

  • The kids were enthralled - you could hear a pin drop.

  • All cheerfully wrote their questions about the passage the boys had read.

  • We had a nice class discussion on the issues raised.

  • I have a little follow-up research for my homework.
And Al can't wait to get his hands on that book again tomorrow.

By the way -- the book that so engrossed Al is pictured here. It is a collection of motivational stories from Townsend Press. The cover is uninspiring, and it has been languishing in my book basket most of the year. I am glad Al discovered that you cannot judge a book by its cover!

By the way, if you teach middle school ELA, you should know Townsend Press. The publish the addicting and affordable Bluford series. Have reluctant readers? Try Bluford.

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