Saturday, October 23, 2010

How Many Years of College?

It's time for a little more humor from the classroom.

In my second year of subbing, a 3rd grader asked how long I had been teaching. I told him I had finished college just a little more than a year before, so I was starting my second year. Looking up at the gray in my hair, he exclaimed, "How many years do teachers have to go to college!"

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Yesterdae was a Relly Grate Dae

The title of this post is taken from The Motivation Breakthrough by Richard Lavoie. I was introduced to Mr. Lavoie's work when I watched his 1989 video, "How Difficult Can This Be? The F.A.T. City Workshop", in a special education course. Through this video, I experienced the Frustration, Anxiety, and Tension that students with learning disabilities experience daily. It was a remarkable experience! Since that time, I have learned much from Lavoie's articles, books, and videos.

Lavoie writes about a nine-year-old student who wrote daily journal entries for language arts. One day he excitedly rushed in and grabbed his journal. Lavoie framed that entry and it has hung on his office wall for over thirty years "as a constant reminder that special education is not about breakthroughs and miracles. Rather our mission is about small victories and plodding progress."

What words could have possibly had such an impact on Lavoie? The student wrote, "Yesterdae was a relly grate dae. I almost caght a ball."

If you have an interest in the development and education of students with learning disabilities, please take a few minutes to watch this YouTube video from the original F.A.T. City workshop. Several other videos are also on YouTube.

You can find more information on Mr. Lavoie's website

To Rick Lavoie - Thank you for inspiring me to continue to strive for those small victories and plodding progress with my students!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Who's Talking

I've seldom had trouble following dialog in books, so I didn't think much about it until a group of struggling 5th and 6th grade readers enlightened me about the difficulty they had following conversations in print. I asked one a question about which character was frightened. He replied, "It doesn't say." He pointed out the line of text. It read, "I am not following you into that house. It is haunted!" That line was contained in an extended two-way conversation, and only the first two lines contained dialog tags.

We stopped to talk about how the author uses a new paragraph each time the speaker changes. This helps the reader follow the conversation, yet allows it to flow without repetitive dialog tags. Several in the group commented that they had never realized that and always got confused when reading conversations. The book we were reading had two main characters and offered numerous examples of two-way conversations. The students reread several of them and found it much easier to follow.

I realized that day that there is more to concepts of print than what we teach beginning readers. Since that day, I have had several opportunities to help young readers improve their comprehension by teaching them how to follow dialog.