My post will be short today. I am spending the weekend with my Berry Queens in Jackson, MS. for the Sweet Potato Queens weekend. I’ll be writing about this wholesome-woman-power fun later, but today I want to celebrate what may be a breakthrough.
I have a 6th grade gifted boy who has been extremely underachieving all year long. This is a typical problem with gifted students, boys in particular. He has resisted almost every incentive or motivation I have put before him. I have tried a number of things, but this week I may have made the miracle happen.
Karl(not his real name) may have found the just right book, Hatchet, to finally make him love reading. His reader response on Tuesday, posted late as usual, was 48 words long and began with “I really like this book.” I read this and had a serious talk with him. I did all of the talking. I blasted him. Then I looked at his tear-stained face and said, “You may not think that you are able to do this. You may think you are not good enough to be in this class. But you are here because you are good enough. You can do it.” I took another student’s journal and read to him her response to Hatchet.
I prompted him with questions, “How would you feel if you were Brian and the pilot died? If you had to fly that plane, what would that feel like?” I told him to go read a chapter and come back to the computer and write another response. I threw in more bait. “If you make a personal connection to the book, you can use it as a Slice of Life.”
He came to me later and said with a grin, “I read more than one chapter.” Then he wrote 250 words! Not only did he write more words, he made a connection to the character. I’m not sure if it was the “discussion” or the student model or the just right book, perhaps all three, but I am celebrating a break through. I gave Karl praise, but to top it all off, Anna Gratz Cockerille, the Two Writing Teachers leader for the Classroom Challenge, commented on his post. You can read his post here.