Monday, March 22, 2010

A Different Point of View

When readers say “huh,” it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are completely confused. There are increments of “huh” that range anywhere from “I don’t get it at all” to “I get it a little bit” to “I get it but I have some questions” to “I get it but there’s this one little thing I don’t understand.” In order for kids to know which strategies to use to fix the problem, it is important that we help them to see the subtleties in their understanding.

This week, I introduced some second graders to a tool I call the understand-o-meter® that illuminates these subtleties in a way that makes sense to eight year old readers.

After this lesson, Nick, a bright second grade reader picked up Andrew Clements Dogku from the chalkboard ledge and said, “You see this book? I read it the other day. It is definitely a one.”

This was such a curious statement to me. I was surprised Nick saw this book as challenging. With only three lines of text on each page and only a handful of two syllable words, I couldn’t understand why he found it confusing. My gut reaction was to say, “Oh, you can read that. Surely you understand it better than you think you do.” But I held back and looked again at the book—this time through the eyes of a second grader.

As I read Dogku, I noticed that it is told from the dog’s point of view. It is also written in haiku (hence the title). Clever as it is, it does demand a certain level of sophistication, or instructional support, to be understood by a transitional second grade reader.

As I sit here writing today, I am reminded that in order to be the best teacher that I can be, I need to step past what I THINK kids need to know and listen to my students. Only they can tell us how to plan and what to teach and when we do that, we go from being good teachers to being great ones.

No comments: