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Confessions of a Nine-Year-Old ADHD Reluctant Reader


How one suggestion from an astute school librarian changed my view of history, reading and me

by Jeff Nathan

Stack.

As a 4th grader with undiagnosed ADHD, I didn’t HATE reading; I just approached it with a very narrow brush. I was unable to find anything non-fiction for which my eyes would travel through the words rather than over them. We were studying the American Revolution. History—I HATED history! Why? Because it required remembering occurrences, dates, and places. I had so much trouble remembering the things that were currently happening in MY life. How could I do it for something so foreign as “the historical past”.

History required regurgitation of the specifics that I never fully consumed. Memorization WAS more difficult for me than my peers so I deemed history too difficult for me to learn—an exercise in futile torture. I went through the motions but absorbed little to nothing because of my perceived incompetence.

1675771How fortunate I was to have so many educators at Craig School in Niskayuna, NY, who did not give up on me as easily as I gave up on myself. One such educator was the school librarian, Ms. Savage. A group from my class was sent to the library so each of us could pick out a book about the American Revolution. I felt like I was being sent to the dentist for some drilling. Who would want to read about history? I wasn’t very good at hiding my disdain for the assignment. As my classmates immediately began looking at potential books to check out, Ms. Savage walked over to me and asked what was wrong.

“Would it be okay to get a book about something else?” I requested. She smiled and asked what I liked. I told her I liked fiction, not history.

“Oh, do I have a book for you,” she exclaimed, just as excited as I was disinterested. From the shelf, she pulled out Paul Revere and I by Robert Lawson. Seeing this historical name in the title, I protested, “But this is history!”

I don’t remember exactly how she got me past my insolence. It could have been the explanation that the story was told by the horse or it could have been the offer she made for me to just read the first page and if I didn’t like it, she would look for something else. Whatever it was, though, I owe her immeasurably. I LOVED this book, and the introduction to historical fiction was a turning point in my education.

I experienced something that could make aspects of history enjoyable, even for a devout history-hater. I found that reading the right book could help me learn what seemed impossible to learn otherwise. This also demonstrated how a spoonful of sugar could work wonders, even for someone as unreachable as I was at that point. To this day, I continue utilizing that lesson in everything that I create for kids, from educational assemblies to books intended to excite reluctant readers into the fold.

 

 

Jeff Nathan, “Boston’s Animated Children’s Author,” will be back for the third year in a row at the Reading For the Love Of It Conference in February. He travels internationally sharing his CurricuLaughs in Language Arts programming, applying music, performing arts and heavy doses of HUMOR to the most challenging aspects of language arts at each elementary grade level. (See www.IncredibleAssemblies.com) His most recent book, Sherlock and Me, was just announced as a 2015 Ben Franklin Award winner for innovation in children’s literature. (See www.SherlockAndMe.com)

Image Credits Copyright: Image by StockUnlimited

Students Make Mind Movies with Graphic Novel Templates

I was thinking the other day about how I write my books and how I read them. The truth is I can’t do either unless I can “see” the action in my mind.  Some say I have a vivid imagination. My husband says I have my ‘head in the clouds’, but the truth is, being able to daydream is a vital skill when it comes to formulating deeper understanding.

A key component  of our reading instruction, then,  must be to teach students to make “mind pictures” or “mind movies” as they read. The ability to do this is vital to their ability to understand what is read.  Students who can’t generate pictures struggle to understand.  So how do we know if our students can do this?  Multiple choice tests and other forms of assessment often fail to give us a fair assessment of this important ability. Have no fear… graphic novels to the rescue!

Now hold on, I know that graphic novels can somewhat limit the skills  of our students in that they “provide” the picture for the student already instead of making them generate the picture, it’s already given. However, we can’t deny the popularity of the “beasts” (my favorite name for graphic novels). So why not capitalize on their popularity to motivate your students to show you their picturing process?  That was my thinking when I created this week’s Teacher Treasure Freebie.

That was my thinking when I created these Graphic Novel Templates. This package provides 23 pages of different graphic novel templates to spur on the imagination and provide evidence of visualization while reading.  Just choose the one most suitable for the current reading activity  and you’re all set!

mindpicturetemplates

Click on this picture if you’d like to grab these templates for your classroom.

I often assess my students on Content (could you picture X amount of scenes and fill in each picture with details), Accuracy ( do the details match the details presented in the story/chapter/passage) and Presentation (organization and clarity of ideas).

I have used these templates and the students love them.  They get to try their hand at creating their own graphic novel pages, and I get a great assessment of how well they can “picture” while they read.  I hope you find them as useful as I do. I would love your feedback.

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Best,

Sharon Skretting

Teacher,

Assessment Coach,

Author of The Jewel of Peru

www.questteaching.com