It's interesting to hear how various themes tend to arise each year. This year, common topics of conversation seemed to be Word of the Day, level of student engagement, and student independence. As I was mulling over this particular blog post in my mind, I had a difficult time deciding whether it would focus on a strategy a student used or the independence of our students. There is so much overlap with those two particular ideas that I find it almost impossible to delineate. Therefore, I won't.
A student came to me the other day clutching Lynne Kelly's Chained. "Mr. O'Neill, I don't understand Timir. I can't figure out if I like him or not." Have a seat, let's talk.
Now, during debriefing teachers frequently ask us when and how we know to confer with a student. We are readers ourselves, and while too many currently believe that reading is an independent activity, we know that conversation is the ladder that raises readers. When I finish a book, I need to find a friend with whom to hold a conversation. I need to hear their thoughts to better understand my own.
Additionally, we want our students to be able to identify when a breakdown is occurring and to be able to develop possible solutions to that breakdown. When we confer, we don't force strategies upon them. We simply attempt to ask the right questions.
When this particular student was trying to wrap her mind around Timir, it was because his behavior was beginning to change. I placed sticky notes in front of her. "What did you think about Timir when you first met him?"
From there, she now had a better understanding of who Timir was. We discussed his motivation and his manipulative, selfish ways. I wish I had a picture of her face as she realized similarities between Timir and Scarface (the antagonist from Boys Without Names, a book she had read previously in the year).