Over the years, trends in literacy ebb and flow. We argue about contrived texts and real literature. We argue about direct and imbedded phonics. However, yesterday, late in the afternoon, on the eve of a 3-day weekend, as I completed my 11th (of the day) Fountas and Pinnell benchmark reading record, I was reminded of the need to celebrate all achievements and the value of focused praise.
"Wow," I said to him, "I loved the way you pointed to every word. I am so proud of you for looking at the word 'We' again. I remember when you would have guessed and kept going. Now you noticed it didn't make sense and went back to look at that word. You wrestled it to the ground," I noted in an analogy I suspected he might understand!
"Yeah, I learned that you look at that first letter and get your mouth ready to read in your Reading Club. Thanks for showing me that great trick," he noted proudly as he leaned in for a hug.
"I think you deserve a pencil for your hard work," I offered.
"Could I have a book, instead?" he asked.
"Absolutely," I responded as one of those happy tears of teachers, moms, and mentors edged its way to the corner of my eye.
The back story is this 1st grade emerging reader grew from an "almost A" to an "Independent B" level based on the assessment. He is not meeting the standard expected of him. Lots of people might even refer to him as a struggling reader. Yet, on Friday afternoon, we celebrated progress that was clear to both of us and he left my room an eager reader!
Focused praise is a reason to celebrate this Saturday morning. Thanks Ruth for this forum that encouraged me to write it down and save the memory.