Saturday, January 30, 2010

what's their motivation?

I have a morning reading group for third grade students who were identified as "at risk" for passing the state test this year. They are required to get to school an hour early and spend an extra hour working on reading- a subject that isn't their strongest if they are in the group. This also means their parents have to get them to school an hour early. Just getting the students there requires a pretty significant buy-in from both the students and the parents and "your child wont pass the standardized test if they don't come" wasn't completely the motivation some parents needed, because, well, some of them are more worried about their family's safety, housing, and food than a state test.
So, to encourage the 3rd graders to not only get up early but to also beg their parents to take them to school early I started blogging with them. We're putting on plays, video taping them and then posting them on the site so their parents can see their child's performance. This is also helping the kids work on their reading fluency. Now that they've heard themselves read on the video slowly they understand that they need to read it like they are talking- and I didn't have to be the one to tell them- now they want to get it right on their own.
And of course we're also highlighting what we're doing academically... listing words with vowel patterns that we're focusing on, discussing how readers use strategies and make connections when they read, etc. The hope, as Clairvoy once explained to me, is that they go home and watch themselves over and over again discussing the content- which means it goes from hearing it once in class to hearing it over and over again at home- because they want to not because I told them to.
Of course, not all the kids have computers at home, but still show up excited every day to check out the videos we made the class before.

My next plans are to add testing questions as a reader's poll to give us some practice, and to figure out how to use the blog to support their practice of high frequency words. I'd love ideas on that one...

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