History: Reflections from PS 154 ☆

| August 25, 2011

In 2006, the TC Reading & Math Buddies Program was in place at PS 123. Below, a teacher and Buddies reflect on the experience.

“Reading Buddies has provided a one-on-one literacy support for our students. This has definitely impacted the progress of the students in a very positive way. Their skills have improved from it”
Ms. Ryan, 1st Grade Teacher

“Every morning, I, a lazy and tired graduate school student, fight with sleepiness so badly. On the way to school, PS 154, am I sleeping or walking? After a 15-minute walk, I arrive at the school, when I get to my class and see my reading buddies, I become a different person. With big smiles, my reading buddies are shouting “pick me, pick me!”. I look at the teacher worrying that he might think I am disturbing his class. Then, I try to make my kids come down. However, whenever I see them and whenever I listen to their shouting, deep inside of me is shouting with excitement, too. From the beginning of reading to the end, two and a half hours are not that short and not that easy. I have to fight with all that distracts them. I have to find ways to which make them motivated and to read books. I have to repeat the same words and the same questions again and again. It’s just like a small war. However, definitely, the war with them is one of the best parts of my day and the best morning that leads me to continue my day with energy and happiness.”
SeungOh Paek, Reading Buddy

“As the alarm clock rings at 5:55 a.m. I am sometimes inclined to hit snooze and roll over, but as I remember why I am waking up so early I get out of bed. The brutal wakeup call isn’t always easy, but it is so worth it. As I slowly begin my morning, gathering “ready to read” books from my personal collection and putting them in my bag, I think of the progress that my six first graders at P.S. 154 have made since I began working with them in September. I begin my long commute uptown, walking for 10 minutes to the 1 train, switching to the express, and emerging from the subway in a part of New York City I have never before felt so welcomed in.”
Jennifer Viola, Reading Buddy

“As I walked through the hallways of the school that would be my morning home for the months to come, I wondered what would each of my students look like, how much would they know about reading, and would I be able to help them. Now, we fast-forward and its months later. I have now learned that each of them has their own story, their own personality, and their own way of knowing and learning in the world. It is these distinctions that make each of them a unique individual, and that is an important piece of information to know when it comes to teaching each one of them. So, here we are, me and my student, sitting in a strange, long, brightly lit hallway. As we sit just outside their classroom in our little blue-colored chairs, preoccupied students scamper back and forth, up and down the corridors, while the bell above our heads rings every so often, giving us a startling jolt. This does not detour my students. They are anxious and excited to read, to have me quiz them in a game we call Super Bonus Questions, and to talk about the meaning of words. The other day, one of my students asked me, “What is a hammock?” We politely took out the dictionary, looked up the word, hammock, and then at the end of the session we went to the computer lab to look at images of hammocks. Another student was curious to learn why ballet was pronounced the way it was pronounced. Once again, the trusty dictionary was taken out, and that student not only learned that ballet was a French word, but that fillet and buffet were also French words. These students are eager to learn, and want to learn, they just need someone there to help them find their place along the way.”
Success Story
“First, I have to say that I consider each student a success story. However, one of my students stands out in particular. His disposition is often reserved, and he speaks in a very still manner. It is also noteworthy to know that this student was one of the lowest performing students in his class for reading. As I sit and listen to him read, I am perplexed. For one, I have learned that he has an impeccable memory, extraordinary if you want to call it. How do I know this? We play this quiz game called Super Bonus Questions, where I ask and quiz students about the content they have just read. This student will consistently repeat verbatim from the text. Not only that, we can go back to previous week’s readings, and he will, without fail, repeat the information word-for-word. It’s astonishing! Additionally, part of my lesson plan is to keep a list of the words the students learn, in order to quiz them at a later date; this student is able to recall all vocabulary to perfection. This is an attribute I’m not sure he knew he possessed, though I quickly brought it to his attention. I have managed to secure several books for him to keep as his own. Well…the light of this story is that he now regularly scores 100% on the reading quizzes he takes after completing a book. I think that his confidence is being built, which was something he needed. I also believe that him knowing of his special memory skill will change his life.”
Helene White, Reading Buddy

Reposted from: http://www.tc.columbia.edu/centers/edzone/schools/quotes2006_ps154.html