On the day before winter break, a student shared with me that school felt hard, and I left for break without a chance to listen (To read part 1, click here.) This comment surprised me, as reading, writing, and math seem easy for him, and I am continually thinking about how to extend his learning.
Since school’s been back in session, I got the chance to listen, learn, and make a few changes:
Me: Before winter break, you mentioned that school was hard. I want to hear more. When does learning feel hard?
Student: Reading is hard.
Me: Can you say more about that?
Student: I don’t like thinking about the big problem in the story. It is too hard and it is boring.
Me: Thank you. Now I understand. What if we found a new way for you to help you think about the books you are reading with your partner? Would you be willing to try some other things and let me know what your thinking?
Student: Head nod.
The next day, I gave this student and his partner two new tools and a tiny blue plastic bear from the math manipulatives box. I said, “I know thinking about the big problem has been tricky and a bit boring. I’m wondering if a game might help you to have conversations about your fiction books fun? Would you be willing to give it a try?”
I placed this game board and a photocopy of the Zones of Regulation feelings chart in front of the students.
I explained the story mountain and how to move the bear up and down the mountain as they talked about the book. I encouraged them to name what happened in each part of the story and describe the characters’ feelings.
With a bit of practice and some small group time, they set off to work. A few days, later I heard this child say to his reading partner, “Don’t forget your game board.”
p.s. Please excuse any typos. My class goes fully remote for the first time this morning, and my mind is a bit preoccupied. Enjoy this day!