Monday, December 28, 2009

Student Reflection

by Katie Bednar

“The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” (Dr. Seuss)

This quote, recognizable by most people in the world of education, is one of my favorites from Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go! This quote serves as a motto for countless organizations and educators, especially those concerned with reading and literacy. At SOAR there is a focus placed on reading strategies and comprehension, and this is something that I did try and work on with Marisa* throughout the semester.

Almost every day after finishing her homework, Marisa and I headed to the Booker T. Washington library to get a few books to read. The school’s library has a great section of Spanish and bilingual books, and this is where we would head. On the first day, after heading back to the classroom and beginning to read, I was blown away by Marisa’s reading abilities. She succeeds at reading not because she knows all of the words, but because she sounds them out letter-by-letter, word-by-word. When she gets stuck on a word she takes the time to sound it out, re-read it, and continue on. I was so impressed that she did all of this on her own initiative without any prodding from me. Since it was clear that Marisa had mastered many crucial reading strategies, I moved on to checking her comprehension. During our reading time I asked her questions about what she was reading, checking her understanding and encouraging her to think more about what she was reading. Towards the end of the semester I really started to see a change in the way that Marisa reads, taking time to process and think about what she has read. I hope that she has learned a lot, because I know I have!

Throughout the semester, my time with Marisa can truly be labeled a shared learning experience. Just from our reading times I have learned a ton of new vocabulary. Whenever I ask Marisa what a word means she tries to draw it out in a picture so that I understand. She is a great little teacher! In general, I have learned more than I ever thought I would about working with bilingual students, and the experience has encouraged me in my future career. And of course my abilities and comfort with the Spanish language have improved! I am going abroad next semester, and I know that what I have learned will benefit me there an when I come back, as well! I would love to come back to work with SOAR in the fall!

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