Limits

I want to be an amazing teacher; I want to help all of my students succeed and make progress.  Today was not one of those days.  Today I had to know to throw in the towel.

One of my reading groups consists of four boys, two fourth graders and two fifth graders.  They have been making decent progress, and I decided I would try reading a longer chapter book with them since they’ve been successful with shorter ones.  I decided to read the chapter aloud, since I knew that would help comprehension, but I also gave them copies of the book so that they could follow along.

Last week we began reading the book. I read chapter one aloud, and we talked extensively about the vocabulary and about the plot line.  I was sure they understood what was happening.  The next time we met we read chapter two, and again, we had multiple discussions about what was happening in the story.

On Friday, we met again and it had been a few days since we’d last read the book- because of scheduling/testing/etc.  Before reading chapter three, I wanted to review chapters one and two.  I gave the boys time to review on their own, and then we were going to talk together.  As I gave them time, two used their time wisely, the other two chose not to review much at all. I took this as a sign that they were ready to move on.  They were not- as we began to discuss the book, the boys could recall few details about the story, and had a hard time summarizing the chapters.  After getting frustrated with their lack of participation, I had them separate and write down their retells independently.

Today was a new day.  I wanted to review with all four boys, but knew they needed a refresher.  Before summarizing, I decided to re-read chapter one, to refresh their memory.  Again, I read the chapter, though with less discussion this time.  Afterwards we began to discuss the book.  They still didn’t get it!  While the could identify parts that had occurred in the story they couldn’t identify the most important parts.

At the end of our 45 minutes today, I admitted defeat.  They just aren’t ready for this type of book yet- for one reason or another.  I told them that we were going to stop reading it, and that we would begin a new book tomorrow.

It is rare that I end a book so suddenly with a group of students, but I knew I was getting nowhere.  Hopefully tomorrow’s book choice leads to more promising results!

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