Saturday, March 12, 2011

Thanks for Asking

Lately, I've had several experiences with the one kid in a class who will speak up and ask the question most of the others are wondering about. I love it!

While subbing in the computer lab, one 2nd grader came up to tell me that the teacher lets them have the lights turned off on Fridays. Having discovered in the past that there may be disagreements about such things, I asked the class how many would object if I turned the lights off. About half the hands shot up. Then I heard a small voice say, "What does object mean?" I explained that it means you wouldn't like it, and all of the hands quickly went down.

Near the end of another 2nd grade day, an intercom message told one little boy that his dad would pick him up tonight. Later, I noticed that he was looking confused and not getting ready to go. Finally he said, "How long is it until tonight?" I knew the secretary meant after school, but he did not. This got me to thinking about how hard kids must work every day to figure out the meaning of things they hear. I told my 91-year-old mom, who struggles with hearing, that it must be similar to how she pieces together conversations when she doesn't quite hear all of the words.

Three cheers for the kids who will ask for an explanation!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

From Can't to Can

Some of my most rewarding experiences this year have taken place after school, while volunteering with the middle school homework group. This week was no exception. I enjoyed teaching K-4 music, although I sing off-key. Then I headed next door to see who needed help. I found a 5th grade girl struggling with a math test review. She was really down; the can'ts in her head were shutting down all possibility of real thinking. I smiled, encouraged, explained, asked questions, and listened. She was working with fractions, so I gave her one of my dry erase cards I made to help her rename and/or reduce fractions. (See Equivalent Fractions) I watched her eyes slowly light up, and we had a great hour of math. She left saying, "I can!" We met again the next day and she dug in to finish the review with a positive attitude. She will take the test today, and my fingers are crossed that she will stay calm and think things through.