Saturday, June 6, 2015

Celebrate Turn #17

I am so grateful to Ruth Ayres for inviting us to share and celebrate events, big or small, from our week.  I quickly wrote this post today, because I am off to the pool.  Please excuse the rambling thoughts, as I try to capture this moment as best I could.

Today I celebrate the struggle.

The last two weeks, I have been working at our Summer Reading Camp, an interventions program for struggling readers.  When the email came calling for teachers to participate in the program, I jumped at the chance to work with elementary students again.  

The camp is winding down, and Friday was our last instructional day.  I struggled with my plans for Friday.  The days were becoming too routine, they were tired, and they were getting bored.  (I mean it is summer break you know!) 

At the last minute I changed everything I was going to do.  Earlier in the week I read Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco, so I decided to read My Rotten Readheaded Older Brother, another book by her.  After I read the second one, they each wrote about something they were good at.  I was completely winging the lesson, and surprisingly it was leading into something much better.

At the end of the morning, I had some extra time and thought, "Great, now what am I going to do?"  So I did what many teachers do in this situation.  I looked in my box of read-alouds and pulled out another one:  Exclamation Mark! 

I love this book for many reasons, but today it put an "exclamation mark" on our last day of learning.  (Monday, our real last day, is a fun day!)

After reading the book, I told them, "Today, we read about a sister who always wanted to do something better than her brother.  She wanted to be good at something that he wasn't good at.  I know reading is not always easy for you, but look at what you wrote about today.  Each one of you is good at something:  playing sports, playing video games, and dancing ballet.  Not everyone is good at reading, or writing, or math.  But YOU are good something.   Sometimes, we are like the exclamation mark - we just have to find a way to make our mark."

Yesterday, I struggled with my plans for my struggling students.  It wasn't what I had planned, but ended up being one of the one best days we had together.  

Sometimes we have to go through the struggle in order to celebrate.


  1. Oh those teachable moments are the BEST!!! That's a terrific read aloud! Have you read Spoon, by the same author. Many of my students reported it as one of their favorites of the year. And what's better than celebrating struggle?!?! That's where the real learning happens...for the students AND for the teacher too. :)

  2. The struggle with strugglers can be less immediately rewarding and so it needs to be celebrated all the more! I love your celebration of these kiddos who are working hard at something that is hard for them when others on summer break. I celebrate you for finding the talents in these readers who just aren't there yet! (Love the choice of and connections to read aloud).

  3. Thank you for sharing this Leigh Anne - you obviously are creating such a great learning community through great books and discussions.

  4. Leign Anne, you hit a high note with the statement, "we just have to find a way to make our mark.: This is a strong statement to make with young learners, especially those who struggle.I did a great deal of work this year on discussing the productive struggle that we need to allow our learners to engage in. Rescuing them does not help but scaffolding the learning for them does. Enjoy your time off. (Any chance that you will write a poem paired with a photo for Soring's Symphony? The latest information is at

  5. I think it is admirable that you participated in this program, dedicated your time and knowledge to help the struggling readers. Isn't it great to have collection of good read aloud at your fingertips. Knowledge and experience helps to pull out just the right book when needed.

  6. I so love the message you shared with them. Wow!

  7. What a message to celebrate the end of your time together! Isn't it fun when things "turn" the right way? You go,girl! Can't wait to meet you in IN.

  8. Flying by the seat of your pants is one way to discover the magic of teaching. Bravo to you, Leigh Anne!

  9. I have found that some of my best lessons happen the same way -- completely inspired by what my students need at the moment. Good for you!