“Come on, you can do it.”

From April Wright, Fifth Grade Teacher, Bell Elementary School, Buncombe County, NC

My goal is to have all students leave my classroom with more confidence (or polished confidence) than they came in with.  During peer interaction time this year, I focused on modeling and teaching courage.  When I returned to the classroom from workshops and conferences, I told students I had to build courage to share my thinking or ask a question in front of peers.

Students practiced sharing their ideas all year.  Our goal was to have 100% participation in class discussions.  For some students this was difficult.  For others it was easy.  Regardless, we all worked together to accomplish the goal.

Students who easily contributed to class discussions began to hold their thoughts, so hesitant students would have time to get their thoughts together.  Less vocal students worked with others to practice and learn how they could share.  One suggestion was to simply restate a classmate’s comment in their own words.

Three weeks ago, our media center received 55 non-fiction e-books.  I wanted to show them how they could access these books over the summer, so e-books became the daily read aloud.

On the first day I modeled how to get into the system.  Each day after that, a different student modeled how to get into the system, retrieve a book, and find the bookmark where we stopped reading the previous day.

I used this activity as part of Teacher Directed Reading.  I wanted students to always read the subheadings and captions before they began reading the text itself.  I stepped back, and allowed students to take control.  To differentiate, I made it so students could read aloud at their comfort level.  If they did not feel comfortable reading a paragraph, they could  read a photo caption or a subheading.

I stepped back and let the students work this out together. Here is the beauty I saw.

Early on some students kindly reminded those who wanted to read a second time that “not everyone has read yet.”  Or, when students noticed that a hesitant student did not take part yet, someone would say “Mary, would you like to read the next caption?”  During one of the early sessions, a shy student shook her head, “No,” but another student said “Come on, you can do it.”  They all waited for her to read the caption.

During these days of e-book reading, strong character and courage were evident.  We had 100% participation.  The students made sure of it.


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