I have this little boy in my class with some pretty serious learning issues (no, it's not 'Jake,' it's another student). He repeated kindergarten and is now in first grade, but still cannot look at a letter and tell me what it is, much less what sound it makes. He cannot look at a list of letters and identify the a or the b, etc. Many of my readers may not understand what a huge lack of skill this is for the beginning of first grade, but it really is. First graders should be at a beginning level for reading, but if they cannot identify letters, much less know their sounds, they are a LONG way from reading anything.
So I noticed this about the little boy on the first day of school. I also noticed that he lacks self confidence and seems to want to avoid learning at all costs, making excuses like his "brain isn't working," or he "really needs to potty."
I went home and made some tactile letter cards with index cards, glue, and colored sand. I figured that if writing the letters and doing the worksheets and activities wasn't doing the trick, he obviously needed another approach. I started the following week seeing him individually during 1/2 of my guided reading group time each day (15 minutes). I introduce only 2-3 new letters a day, and I have him trace the letters with his finger as we talk about what they are and what sounds they make. The following day, we review the letters we have learned previously and do a couple more. I had noticed no improvement, even with all of this work.
Then something wonderful happened: Yesterday we were going through the norml routine and all of the sudden he remembered what the "b" was. He then told me the sound and even said "buh...buh.. like in BEAR!!!" He was so proud of himself! I praised him and then he was able to do the same with several more of the letters that we have been working on!
When I sent him back to centers I told him how proud I was of him and how smart he was. That's when he said it. He said "I really AM smart! And now I'm gonna READ!!!" He said it like it was the first time he had ever believed he could learn to read. His little squeaky voice was so cute. It seriously almost made me cry.
That's why I do what I do.
A Perfect Ten
2 days ago