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Day 40 Part II – “Now It All Makes Sense. That Is Why It Is Hard.”

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.”

Happy Reading,


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!

12 thoughts on “Day 40 Part II – “Now It All Makes Sense. That Is Why It Is Hard.””

  1. First of all if I could have a dime for all those times kids have said that to me… Student: I don’t like thinking about the big problem in the story. It is too hard and it is boring. And many days I was really agreeing with them!!! I love your visual, I love your ways XO.

  2. A game always makes learning more fun. What a clever way to entice this reader to think deeper! Side note, good luck on remote, I know it’s hard but you will knock it out of the park. 🙂

  3. Thanks for sharing the follow-up, Tammy! I love hearing how you adjusted the approach for these reading partners.

    p.s. good luck with remote teaching!

  4. Oh, that’s a great idea to help with reading! Games are always wonderful. I hope remote teaching went well today!

  5. I love the tactile part of having a bear walk the story mountain and how that helps a young writer imagine the journey, and what a character would be feeling – well-done. Best wishes with the switch to remote, and ongoing strength to you!

  6. I’m always amazed at the ingenuity of educators. What a fabulous way to approach this. My son spent several years in speech therapy and games were always the go-to approach. I hope your remote teaching goes well. Funny how some are going remote just as others return to the classroom.

  7. Love that you came back to them to discover more … and that you gave them a solution to try … and asked them if they’d be willing to try it! No worries, you will reach them through the screen just as well! 🙂 Good luck.

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