Today I had one of those moments that makes it all worth it. All of the late night IEP drafts, the long meetings after work, compliance trainings, and the hours of preparing lessons. Today, I witnessed a student spontaneously making a connection and applying the language skills we have been working on this year. It was beautiful!
Here is the background: I am co-teaching a 3rd grade literacy class with a fabulous resource teacher and a fantastic general ed teacher. You heard that right, co-teaching! Not just pushing in, not co-existing, not hanging out in the back with my kiddos. Truly co-teaching. We are blending our three perspectives, strategies, and skills into one focused effort and I am really seeing the payoff. So far we’ve taught visualization, setting, character traits, and summarizing I’ve been able to incorporate memory, language, and vocabulary strategies into each step. Although we rotate the literacy skill weekly, we are using the approach of one story every two weeks to truly develop the plot, vocabulary, and understanding. Plus, we have limited time so it helps not to have to introduce a new story each week. The pacing of the materials is a major key to the success of the students truly learning the content.
The first story we started with was A Bad Case of Stripes. We talked about visualization then setting. A few weeks later we came back to this story to do some carryover with character traits. We used a character they were now familiar with in order to develop the skill of describing inside and outside traits.
Throughout each story I emphasize vocabulary by using the framework “the important thing about…”. This has been so successful because it gives an opportunity for repetition and connection to real life. I identify 6-8 primary vocabulary words for each story and students use this same format for defining. I have noticed an improvement in their describing and defining as well as recall of vocabulary.
Which brings me to my beautiful moment!! This week we have been reading Stellaluna and practicing how to summarize the story. The kids have really responded to the framework “Somebody – Wanted – But – So – Then”. It has been magical! (On a side note, I must teach this framework to my 9 year old, because it takes him 5 minutes to introduce a topic of conversation or phrase his question sometimes!) We started with real life examples (the students summarized their Halloween experiences and I shared my recent experience of my flat tire adventure) before moving on to summarizing familiar stories. I had a small group of these 3rd graders for articulation therapy today and we were using Stellaluna to practice target sounds. Part of the text is Stellaluna exclaiming “How embarrassing!”. Unprompted, my sweet, shy student said, “Just like in Bad Case of Stripes. She was embarrassed because of her stripes”. YES! Just like that! Now that we made a connection with the vocabulary we turned to that page in both stories and compared/contrasted the embarrassing moments. We also added in a personal connection of a time we felt embarrassed.
In that moment he was the teacher. Like I said, it was beautiful! Have I mentioned how much I love my job? I’d love to hear one of your “moments”!