Saturday, November 9, 2013

Celebrate: The power of focused praise

Discover. Play. Build.
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. 



LInda Baie said...

Absolutely you should note, and save, the memory. Everyone at their own pace, Anita. I have no doubt he'll get there with your support! Great to celebrate!

Leigh Anne said...

This just makes my heart melt. It is the small things that matter and need to be written down...this is a great reason to celebrate.

Ruth Ayres said...

I'm glad you documented this moment. It is a turning point in the life of your student. At this moment, he is no longer a struggling reader, but a growing reader. I needed the reminder that focused praise always transforms struggles into growth.
Shine on,

Ramona said...

You wrestled it to the ground, powerful words this student will never forget!

Carol said...

Hurray for a teacher who gives a reader feedback that allows him.her to grow and change!

MaryHelen said...

Thanks for sharing this moment. Sometimes in the midst of helping kids grow as readers, I get bogged down by the little progress being made. Instead, I will celebrate there is progress and growth and learning. I really needed this today Monday.

Loralee Landers Druart said...

What a wonderful moment to celebrate!

P.S. I love how you say..."You wrestled it to the ground."