Monday, September 26, 2011

Reading more than books

One of the benefits of teaching students with special needs is getting to work with small groups.  This can also be a problem when most of the group is absent, and a whole-group lesson was on the schedule.  Such was the case last week, when three out of five students in my afternoon class were otherwise engaged in library time and a readers' theater production. 

I had planned on reviewing the why and wherefore of reading anyway, so that's how the discussion started.  I was focusing on reading outside of school, and was disheartened to find out that neither of my students read books at home.  We then talked about other avenues of reading:  computer use, video games, cereal boxes.  I brought up magazines, and remembered that I had purchased one that morning at the grocery store on the way to work.  Aha!  Instant environmental print lesson for two!

A visual literacy lesson came next.  "What do you see on the cover?"  "Cookies."  "Good!  Where is the word 'cookies'?"  "What colors do you see?  When do we usually put those colors together?  Find the word Christmas!"  My students learned that the "p." in "p.6" stood for "page."  We perused the table of contents, discussed reading ingredients and instructions in recipes, and found lots of compound words:  cutout, shortbread, gingersnap, butterscotch, peanuts, thumbprints, gingerbread, cheesecake, checkerboards, and snowflake, to name a few.  One of my students told us about seeing ginger for the first time in a grocery store with his mom, and was able to point out the cookies that looked like they had ginger in them.  Cookie and candy likes and dislikes were exclaimed, as well as wishes for the baking season to hurry up and arrive.

Alas, we ran out of time before we could discuss the usefulness of the index, or the importance of the sequence of instructions for making sugar cookies.  Maybe I'll just keep the magazine at school for awhile, just in case I have another sparsely populated class some afternoon.  :-)

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