Hope at School

“Please come read with me, Y?” I announced and the 7th grade girl sauntered over and sat in the empty chair next to me.

I showed her a 2014 two-page newsela article entitled, “First lady says “Let’s Move” to the home kitchen”. I purposely chose this particular article because Y likes to cook and as person of color, I already knew that she was a fan of our former first lady.

“Please read it aloud so I can listen to you read.”

She folded her arms, sat back in her chair and read the first line in an angry voice.

I stopped her. “Look. You aren’t in trouble. I am going to read with everyone today. When you read, I can’t see how you are going it. By reading aloud to me, I can tell what you are doing. Then I can know how to help you get better. Please start again and read with expression as best as you can, instead of someone who is angry at the world.”

After a minute, she began again. By the 4th line, she even pulled in her chair, leaned forward and began tracking the words with her left index finger. At the 2nd paragraph, I noticed the story made her smile. At the 4th paragraph, she read “honorary chairwomen” and asked “What’s that?” I stopped my timer and explained the meaning of that term. When she finished, I asked her the four comprehension questions and she answered them all correctly.

“Can I tell you how you did?” I asked.


“You read this 7th grade passage with 99% accuracy and only stumbling on two mutli-syllablic words. Just know that when a word is longer, you need to work at it. You read with great expression. And I loved that you read and asked a question about a phrase. That is what profiecent readers do. They ask questions and are curious. Keep doing that!!”

I then reminded her how all her reading about cooking was helping her to grow her reading skills. And I gave her a pass to go to the library as I heard the librarian had a few new cookbooks.

The second quarter ends on Friday. Y never wanted to be in my reading elective class. A score on a test last year placed her in this elective. Because she could show me today that she could read on grade level, I’ve recommended that she switch to talking Art as her elective for the 2nd semester. I’m glad she could show me she could read. Maybe learning is happening, even during this pandemic school year.

6 thoughts on “Hope at School

  1. kimhaynesjohnson says:

    The world needs more teachers like you – – teachers who realize that reading is all about the relationship between a teacher who knows her students’ interests and the matchmaking of student and great books of those interests. And encouragement and feedback. That feedback? That’s the key – – it’s why Slice of Life is successful. We don’t just write for ourselves, we want to share it and see what others think. Readers want to know what others think, too. Encouraging feedback, in my opinion, is one of the most powerful growers of readers and writers and anything elsers. You win, she wins, the world wins!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fran Haley says:

    That leaning in while reading – the magic moment! So much depends on making reading a pleasurable experience for the kids, so that they value it. Feedback demystifies the process and can give students a voice in their learning – a chance to express what is hard for them and what their strengths are. Here’s to your student continuing to fly!

    Liked by 1 person

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