Reflections: October to Today

This is a look back on my four third-grade Buddies: where they were when we met, how they’ve grown in five short months, and what I expect from the rest of this semester.

AR and I only met in December. She didn’t like reading, and only wanted to do math (in itself not a bad thing, of course). When we did read together, it was always low-level books that she had read before. Now she is absolutely addicted to a brand new book that is a full level above her “just right” reading level: The River by Gary Paulsen. She’s doing a great job reading this work! We are going to spend the rest of the year finishing, and start working on her own book.

JP was all over the place when we met. He didn’t really sit still, would bounce between reading and looking at picture, and had trouble answering questions because he got so excited. Especially this semester he has settled down and begun working for long stretches at a time. We have channeled his interest in Captain Underpants to create his own comic, Super J: Battle in Space. It involves lots of research on space and the planets, which has us working in areas of the library JP usually avoided.

CR got “tired” a lot when we first started. She was always wanting to move to a different activity, and was certainly more interested in walking around the school and talking than in doing any actual work. So we did that. After about a month it was clear that CR was avoiding making mistakes. She began focusing more on working while we were together. Lately, she has improved her self-checking skills when reading and is able to finish short books and chapters without stopping. We’re still looking for a good end-of-year project, but it will probably involve a story about her family. She loves talking about how much she loves her parents!

At the start, EM was the most excited to work with me. It seemed like she was easily frustrated when she was working around other people–like in class–and would either shut down completely or speak so quietly that no one could hear her answers. She also told me how she was scared of reading words with more than eight letters. This month we started working on 12-letter words (8 letters isn’t scary at all), but more importantly, she has become more outgoing in class. For the rest of our time together, we will finish EM’s story about her favorite dog, Kittie.

IH and I haven’t worked together since November. He got pulled out of class for another ELL-styled program. It seems like a pretty good decision. When we met, he had very little English literacy, and couldn’t count past 8 with consistency. We started out playing Chutes and Ladders to help the counting, and worked on basic literacy skills like the alphabet. This semester, I’ve noticed that he is more verbal now, especially with his peers, and can count to 100 with only a few errors.  Though we don’t work together one-on-one anymore, I still get to spend time with IH on the in-class Fridays.