This week’s meeting with our ten-year-old boy was a little different due to the Easter holiday and having Monday off. For today’s lesson, my plan was to start with a review of what the student had previously learned, and also engage him in a way that would keep him active and not bored [since there were moments in the last session where he seemed tired and less interested].
I started off asking him how his Easter weekend was as a way to bridge him into the lesson. Our student came with chocolates, which we actually ended up using as a fun reading activity—reading the quotes on the inside of the wrapper!
To start our first activity, we moved locations to a more comfortable section of the library. We started at a table, and I showed the student our selection of coloring supplies as well as a hamburger-style folded book of blank pages that I had created previous to the lesson.
The first activity was a writing activity, and the goal was to bring together as many of the skills learned in the past three weeks as possible. Our student was to create a short story based on the model of the text he has been reading, The Million Dollar Shot.
The story would have seven elements:
- A created character with a name
- A sentence or two about setting — who, what, where, when, why?
- A series of events leading to an ending
- At least two rhyming words
- A sentence with both slow and stop punctuation [commas, periods, exclamation points, etc.]
- A sentence with dialogue
- A sentence where the character has emotion or says his/her state of being
These were some of the major things we’d learned and focused on over the past three weeks. I set the activity up so that it was a challenge for our student—if he could incorporate each of the seven points, he would be a winner!
This activity took the majority of our lesson, but was awesome to see how he created his own character and story. He stayed focused and on task, drifting between writing, then reading his writing, then brainstorming ideas along with us. We worked on this story—just the writing—for about an hour. His homework was to then finish drawing pictures and coloring so that he could present his final product at the next session.
After the writing activity, we moved to a Speed Read Relay. This was set up in an aisle of the library, with two cones on opposite sides of the aisle and a book and jersey at each end. The goal of this game was to encourage quick, confident reading. Our student had to read a short passage [previously-selected by the teacher] then run across the room to the first cone, put on the jersey, read another short passage, run back to the first cone, put on another jersey and slap the book shelf when this was completed. The whole process would be timed and our student would be encouraged to not only beat his time on the second round, but to also beat the teachers, as they participated as well.
This activity was extremely successful because it kept our student moving and engaged. Plus, because it was a competition, he was striving to do better each round. The quick reading also helped with fluency. Instead of having awkward pauses during reading, our student was pushed to read efficiently. During his reading, one of the teachers stood over his shoulder to monitor, making sure he wasn’t skipping words, was pronouncing words correctly, and was still making sense.
At first, the Speed Read Relay was frustrating for the student. He didn’t read as quickly as he wanted to, and was frustrated when he heard how quickly one of the teachers could read a selected passage. However, because of his more competitive side, he continued into the next round and was successful. Plus, because he had previously been exposed to the text, he was more confident the second time around and therefore did a lot better. I think that this activity also helped to increase his self-confidence in reading as well as pure speed and fluency.
This activity challenged our student, especially when he heard us teachers read fast and could use us as a model. I loved how enthusiastic he was during the game and I think it was a great way for us to bounce back and grab his attention after last session!