One of my daily joys as a librarian (and foremost a literacy educator) is to work with a small group of first grade readers. The teachers and I were able to dedicate a 25 minute block during their independent reading time to make it happen. Although our school's official RTI (Response to Intervention) efforts are focused on math, an RTI process prioritizes that the most skilled educators work with the students who need the most expert support. I appreciated the teachers' confidence in my experience.
My small group varied across the year, with one child experiencing a growth spurt and another needing support after several months away from school. And then one day Kate came along with her classmates. "This is Kate," one of them announced. "She's a D!"
I've written in other posts about the Fountas & Pinnell guided reading levels that currently organize part of reading instruction. One downside of this "leveling" work is that teachers and kids, sometimes even parents, take up the drumbeat and kids begin to label themselves with these levels. (D level texts are what might be expected from beginning first graders.) These kids knew that D was not "adequate" reading in the spring of first grade, and that many of their classmates were reading H, I, J or even P level books. Yes, sigh.
Kate's teacher and I had only moments to talk before she left for a planned leave after spring break. I told the guest teacher that I'd love to talk with Kate's mom if she met her, and just days later Denise came to visit. I'll let her tell the story in her own words, and then fill in the educator side of the story following. In the meantime, here's Kate. She's clearly an A+!