Tuesday, June 26, 2012

We have to be ready...

"People focus on what they are ready to see." - Ralph Fletcher, Mentor Author, Mentor Texts

This quote came from a book about writing, but I found it struck a chord with me today. It's really true in so many areas of our lives....

But in reading, how can we know what our kids are "ready" for? How can we give them what they are able to digest?

I suggest we be keen listeners. Suggestions like, "Hey, I think you'll like this because you like sports and it's about baseball," or "You read this author before and liked the book," are fine, but I would only make them if your child has stated those preferences themselves. That's how you will know if they are ready. If it comes from them.

In class, I give them small snippets of readings and tell them I need their opinions of them. I have them read them once aloud, and once in their heads, and then I listen.

What stood out to you? Did you like it or no? Why or why not? I ask them their favorite word, sentence or image. If they liked it, it may be the genre, the character, the style of writing, the subject matter.

Make sure you don't make it an interrogation session...talk to them as a mutual reader. Also, don't make it a teaching session. You don't need to tell them all of what you notice. You can do that at another time. Focus this experience on them doing the talking and you the listening. You will learn a lot.

Maybe they don't have much to say...that speaks volumes too. I need to keep searching.

Where can you get the readings? Amazon.com has "look inside" for many books, you can use a paragraph/page from those.

If they aren't ready, they will miss it. I think that's why we suggest so many titles and they start, but give up. Some of it is stamina, and that is something to be developed. I am also not saying don't suggest, because that is very important too.

As a teacher, I am always shooting for that very next baby step up...independent + 1...giving them what they are able to do on their own, but a little bit more so they can grow.

I do a lot of listening.

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