Thursday, September 2, 2010

Difficult Text

Those of us in the business of teaching reading are commonly faced with struggling readers.  This is nothing new.  We have a absolute myriad of strategies that we offer to help these literary wanna-be's (at least we hope they wanna be)!  But when was the last time YOU struggled to understand text?  Personally, I've felt like a fairly competent reader for a very long time.  Sure, sometimes I get off- track and have to re-read passages.  Sometimes a word must be looked up in the dictionary.  I LOVE Dickens, so that old-English alone has its own set of challenges. But this past summer my reading skills got a workout, when I decided to read, "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo."  I didn't know much about it before reading it, but I did know that it was a national best seller with 2 follow-up novels and movies in the works, etc...  I also (disclaimer...disclaimer...!) am not even suggesting you read it.  It had some rough parts that some would certainly not enjoy (I'll leave it at that).  But my point is this...(finally)...I had to read and re-read and look back and look back some more.  It took me a very long time (100 pages?  more?) to get into it.  At times I SERIOUSLY considered putting it down and stopping.  After all how hard should one have to TRY in order to enjoy a book?  But then it happened...I started liking it.  I started REALLY getting curious to find out what was coming next. 

Then, a light went on!  Just like my struggling readers!  It was somewhat painful.  Not so fun, but in the end WORTH IT!  Isn't this the message I'm trying to relay to my reading students?  In the end it's WORTH IT?!  I place a huge amount of value on modeling the behaviors I want to see in my students.  Of course I model the writing process in a variety of ways, but sometimes I just sit down and work alongside them on an assignment.  There is value in knowing what it FEELS like to complete an assigned task.  Perhaps I haven't given them a reasonable amount of time to complete it.  Maybe it's too easy.  My point is...struggling with this book, gave me such great EMPATHY for what my struggling readers are feeling.  I felt it was such a great accidental gift.  Another way for me to connect with and relate to my students.  Of course I will be sharing my struggles with them! 

I loved it when a teacher friend to whom I had recommended the book reported the same struggles and wanted to ditch the book in the worst way.  But she too, STAYED THE COURSE, finished it and ended up LOVING it!  Gotta run now...picking up 5th graders and taking them to lunch!  Ta Ta!

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