Celebrate: Reading Revelations

Yesterday I walked out of my classroom, not exhausted.  After week four, I’ve got my sea legs.

This year marks my thirteenth teaching fifth graders.  As a kid, it was my favorite grade. I guess it still is.  There are moments, though. Times when I think I should be doing something else. Times when I think, what was thinking. Times when the magnitude and impossibility of the task seem overwhelming. Times when I think only fools would dare. But then I have moments that make my heart so full I can’t imagine doing anything else.

Reading with students is one of those times. To be able to see what they do. How their brains attack a text. How they make sense of it. To be able to see what they do well and the magic of it is a celebration.

Yesterday I sat with Z. He struggled through a passage that, based on last year’s data he “should” have been able to read.  Afterward, he asked,”Can I read my book now?  I really want to read it.”

Crazy, I think. I’m pulling him from a text he wants to read to read something he can’t. 

I asked, “Can I see your book?”

He runs to his reading spot on the carpet and brings back Touchdown Trouble.

I asked, “Would you read some of it to me?”

He reads. It fits, perfectly.  He has found a “just right” book.

I’m not sure what I said to him but, the juxtaposition of his reading an assessment text with his reading a book of choice floored me.  He couldn’t read a text that mattered to me. He could read a text that mattered to him. The book was the same level as the assessment text.


At the end of the day, I pulled out my reading notes. Documented here are the levels, the strengths, and needs of each child. I come to his name. I write: chooses just write books/favors sports stories and biography. Needs to learn to negotiate texts that he doesn’t choose. 

We have a journey ahead. To balance the texts he wants to read and cultivate the love of reading with the texts he has to read and grow his academic life. Both are important. Both are dependent upon the other. It’s like the heart and lungs.

Celebrating the journey.

Read other celebrations here at Ruth Ayers’ Discover, Play, Build.


10 thoughts on “Celebrate: Reading Revelations

  1. Julieanne,
    What a celebration! So great that you found what Z could read even though he didn’t do as well on your passage. So interesting to think of these implications for some of the reading drivel on assessments. Sometimes it’s such awful writing, silly topic, and just plain BORING!

    Thanks for making me think!

  2. Oh that choice matters, everywhere. I think we adults do that, too, and choose our “wishes”. Sometimes if I really want to read what I know might be a challenge, I know I’ll have to sit by the computer so I can research references I don’t understand. But most of the time I can do it. Experience counts, but not for everything, right? With your wise guidance, he’ll get there! Love your musing about this, Julieanne. Have a good weekend!

  3. What joy to witness the growth of students, especially in reading. How wise you were to ask him to read from his choice book. What if you hadn’t, your view of his reading might be totally different. When you do this, you get a better picture of who Z is as a reader. How many teachers only use the assessment to “know” there students as readers? Too many, I’m afraid. Love the heart and lungs analogy, spot on perfect (as usual 🙂 ).

  4. I’ve said this before, but I marvel at your attention to each child when I know you have, what, 66? This is a true sign of a wonderful teacher. You can balance what you know is necessary for those standards to be met with what you know is best for that particular kid. Amazing!

  5. “He couldn’t read a text that mattered to me. He could read a text that mattered to him.” Wow! That’s a powerful statement. Taking time to notice those things is so important. You learned so much more about him as a reader by taking those extra steps. What a great celebration!

  6. So enjoyed your vivid description of z’s journey and your passion for getting this student where he needs to be. There is magic in all of it!

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