Reading Recovery


I got to read with Mrs. Dee today.  She acted like it was some mystery: who would get the star.  She took us into the room, showed us the books in the tubs on the table.

“What do we do?” she asked.

“Read!” Megan said.

“And where can you be?” she asked.

“We can s-s-s-it anyw-w-where around the room,” said Gaven.

“Anywhere except under or behind something,” said Mrs. Dee. “Okay, now back out to the hall.  Let’s see who gets the star today.”

The person with the star would get to read with her.  I secretly wanted it to be me. My name is Jay, and I’ve been hoping I would get to read with Mrs. Dee all day.  Well, since I saw her after lunch.

Lined up in the hall, with my back to wall, she handed me the green star.  Yes! We all marched into the room and I stood at the table while everyone else grabbed a tub.

“Right here, Jay,” said Mrs. Dee.

Right next to her was a stool and on the table was a book.  Two words on the cover and I could feel my shoulders rising. “Ssss…awwww……Bb-b-b….awww….g.  Saw bog,” I said.

“Nice job finding those first sounds, Jay,” she said. “Let’s try it together.”

Aw, man!  I knew what that meant.  I turned the book over and upside down.  “Saw, stupid,” I said. “Poopy face.”

“Oh, Jay.  You can do it.” Mrs. Dee took the book from me and set it right again. “This first word is a sight word; it’s one that you’ll just have to remember.  It says ‘So.’” She pointed to the first word. “Now you try this next one. All the sounds are there.”

“So b-b-b…”

“That’s it.”

“B…i-i-i…g.  Big. So Big! Stupid.”

“Yes! You got it.”

I turned the page and started reading.  I looked at the picture on the right side and then read the words on the left.  It’s just like she taught me to do the first time she was in my classroom.

After a few pages, she asked, “How did you know that word was coat?”

“‘Cause it looks like a coat,” I said, pointing to the picture.

“Yeah, but why didn’t you say ‘jacket’ or ‘sweater’?”

I looked at her like she was crazy.  Doesn’t she know what a coat is? I reached for the coat I was wearing to show her.  “Like this! A coat.”

“What do you see in the word that makes you sure that it’s coat.”

“C-oh-t.  Coat-c-coat,” I said and she made some notes on her paper.

She asked me a few more questions while I read, and finally, I got all the way to the last page.  There was a picture of an giant elf. He was holding all his big stuff and there, in the corner of the page, something caught my eye me. “His house is small.”

“Why does that surprise you?” she asked me.

Duh! “’Cause,” I answered. The whole book was about all these big things, but his house wasn’t big enough for him or any of his stuff.

Of course, I didn’t say that.  What I said was “Poopy na-na.”

This was just the start of a reading intervention lesson that could only be described as an epic fail.  Like a virus, the part of this first interaction that was contagious was not the strategies or successes.  Nope.  And like any good virus, it mutated into a string of behaviors that eventually overwhelmed my composure and my ability to redirect.  Some read a little.  They all wrote a little, too.  Maybe it was not an entire loss, but I cannot call it a win either. Tonight, I write from the point of view of one in hopes that I can find something that will make tomorrow better for them all.  I’d love to know your thoughts.

I am participating in the 11th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge (#SOLSC18) hosted by Two Writing Teachers.  We write each day in March as part of an international writing community.  I appreciate any comments, especially those thatslice of life challenge

  • reinforce writing decisions that work and
  • coach into those that don’t.

Think of each comment you leave as a little writing conference we are having together. Come on, make me a better writer today! Thank you!

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Amy Ellerman says:

    Morgan, this is such a creative way to think through a lesson that didn’t go as expected. it makes me think about how our students perceive the prompts we use–especially in the beginning, before they trust us to support them with something that is so challenging. Writing from Jay’s point of view reveals something important about how he sees himself. it’s better to be silly on purpose than wrong, right?


    1. Morgan says:

      Thank you for calling it silly. Reminds me that they act like kids because that’s who they are!


  2. Jennifer McCabe says:

    So let’s say you have an awesome lesson. Kids are researching a community agency in their neighborhood, that has engaging free after school progeams. Your totally awesome coach, let’s call her Dorgan Mavis sets up a community outreach visit. Your students have engaged in active research and complied deep questioning to ask after the presentation. Most students are engaged, interested, and open-minded. But not “T”. When asked at the end of the presentation with a fist of five who would try out the programming for this community oraganization he was a hard zero. Maybe it was for shock value? Our authentic assignment was to write a quick write, journalistic article (Lucy Calkins Journalism Unit). When ” T”wrote his article he actually convinced himself to stop by later that evening to pick up his permission slip. He talked to every adult that afternoon about his plans to visit the Club House. Point being that although we are first met with resistance, we make a difference in the end. Thank you to my coach Dorgan Mavis, Umm… Morgan Davis who coaches me through my set backs so that I can see my successes. You are one of the reasons “T” reasons with himself best through writing, purposefully. Thank you!


    1. Morgan says:

      Wow! Thank you for being the coach I needed this morning and helping me to see success in the struggle. I am so thankful for you.


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