Wednesday, May 7, 2008

popping the bubble

After 3-4 weeks during my college study-abroad in Greece I remember driving everyone crazy as I read every sign I saw. It was as though I woke up one day and suddenly understood the Greek alphabet. All of a sudden those signs my eyes had been skimming over were registering. I could read them! Like tiny puzzles calling to me up and down the streets, I had to decode every word I saw.

If you were not me, it was ridiculously annoying.

I always think about this when I watch first graders who seem to have suddenly been visited by the reading fairy. The ones who looked at you like you were crazy in guided reading for months and months as you painfully, yet energetically, tried to coax those reading fingers into pointing to each word, cheering, "Check the picture! Check the first letter!" They could have cared less.

Then all of a sudden they're flying. They come in one morning, point to some sign in your classroom, and read it to you with authority. From then on their eyes are everywhere, reading EVERYTHING. You know it's happening when you hear them whispering the words they can read during whole-group lessons.

I've been sitting on the carpet beside a little one in first grade this week, whose bubble has clearly popped. It pains me to silence her as I hear her decoding words, re-reading them, and saying them quickly to make them hers. Her eyes fly around the room, trying to read everything in sight. She pokes me and points to a word on my clipboard. "off" she hisses. "office. Off. Office." she glows with pride showing me that she's figured out that 'off' is inside 'office. The teacher reads a big book to the class and I hear her exclaim as she sees words we've learned in guided reading. More poking me. More of me trying to give her a teacherly-look, finger on the lips, trying to redirect her.

While I secretly cheer inside, and thank the magic-reading-fairy who I swear visits children during the night.

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