We’ve spent so much time talking about Daily 5 lately . . . I thought I would share a little epiphanyI had this week. I know, as teachers, we often struggle with why kinderssometimes have such difficulty with sustained reading. In all honesty, most of the students that we see, or a great deal of them, do not have a history of being read to or models of good readers in their homes. Quite often, reading and books are something they experience for the first time at school. And what do we expect? We expect them to sit quietly and read, because it’s school after all. But quite often . . . it just doesn’t happen! But why? I don’t think we always have the answer when it doesn’t work, but this week, watching my own boys, I was able to see when it DOES work and saw some features of differentiated instruction slap me right square in the face.
On any given beautiful summer’s day you will find my boys outside. It’s their natural habitat. They are boys after-all . . . Noise-Dirt and a little Stink thrown it for good measure and there you have it . . . one of my boys! It is not untypical for them to occupy themselves for long periods of time outside, but it is quite unusual for me NOT to hear some kind of play going on. So I poked my head outside to see what kind of trouble they were in only to find all three of them ‘reading’ in their playsetfort.
By my account, they had been there about a half an hour by the time I noticed them, and they stayed there another ½ hour after the fact, only stopping briefly to request a snack and have a quick swinging contest and back up to read they went.
Here they were . . . three boys . . . three different reading levels . . . all reading alone and at times with someone . . . engaged and engrossed.
It was differentiated instruction at it’s finest. We had been at the library that morning so each had picked out a bag of books that was of interest to each them. And let me tell you, they are all so different. At the time I was fond them, the littlest McGuire was reading a graphic novel type nursery rhyme book with simple text, the middle McGuire was reading nonfiction books about alligators and the biggest McGuire was reading a Percy Jackson book — Greek Mythology.
Likewise, the books were at their reading level. The little one wasn’t reading beyond his ability and the big one wasn’t reading something too easy. They all were challenged and engaged in their choice of books. Finally, they were comfortable. They were able to choose where they read. This time they chose in a fort, outside and together. Sometimes it’s sitting upside down (yes! I said upside down) with their heads hanging off the couch. My boys, especially, do not sit perfectly still, nor quiet, when they are reading. They fidget, they move. It’s not text book, picture perfect exemplary reading behavior, but it’s still reading . . . self-sustained reading at it’s finest. This is what reading should be like in my classroom for every child and what it should be like in any classroom. This is why I do what I do. This is my goal.
Now if I can just get someone to build me a fort in my classroom, I’ll be all set.