Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Be Careful What Behaviors You Extinguish

I am reading The Search For WondLa to my fourth graders. I almost told this English Language Learner to put her paper away during read aloud, but, not knowing for sure how much she can even understand as she listens, I let her keep doodling while I read, as a "consolation prize" for all the "incomprehensible English that was washing over her."


She handed this picture to me at the end of read aloud, when she leaves for an afternoon of extended ELL classes. It shows Eva Nine and Rovender riding on top of Otto. Eva is holding the omnipod, and she is thinking, "I'm skard." This is EXACTLY what is happening in the story right now.

Hmm. Big lesson here? Don't make assumptions. And be careful what behaviors you extinguish -- there is likely some really smart thinking going on where you assume there is none.

More in another post about WONDLA as a read aloud. The 3-D hologram maps promote some really fascinating conversation. Come to think of it, it was probably those maps that helped ELL Girl to make as much meaning as she did...


  1. I find it no less than stunning what our students can teach us when we open to their wisdom and the ways they need to communicate it. This is a remarkable example of one more time when a student knew what they needed to do. So glad you said yes to her!!

  2. I always let kids draw during read-alouds and they often come up with the most amazing images about what we're reading. Doodling helps me concentrate, so as long as they're quiet about it I think it's fine. Once I start commenting on the ones that actually have to do with the book, most of them start following along.

  3. This is a reminder for all of us. I have always said "If we really listen to (and watch) children, they tell us all there is to know about learning and teaching wisely and well." This is just that.
    Thank you for sharing.

  4. Love this story. I am so glad you let your student show you what she was thinking. We often get in too much of a rush to really hear each other.

  5. Great story.. I homeschool my kiddos, and at least one of them is what you might call a wiggly learner (officially known as ADHD). I have learned not to expect constant apparent attentiveness from him, but to accept gaming upside down on the couch, drawing, etc. as part of the package. More is going on than meets the eye.

  6. i love this story for so many reasons, not least of all because it reminds me that i don't always have to tell them to stop doing something!

    it's okay to let them go off the path.

    thank you!

  7. This is indeed a great story--and it proves why reading aloud to children is SO VERY IMPORTANT!!!!!

  8. Thank you for posting this story. I, too, have an English Language Learner who turns to pencil and paper during the day. She draws whenever she can: when I am giving instructions, during read aloud, while working out a math problem. I think I needed your story to help remind me that this is part of her process.

    Thank you. I am once again reminded of how important it is that we teachers share our stories.
    Happy Reading,

  9. Mary Lee, this post has stayed with me. Thank you so much for sharing it. It embeds in my mind - oh, so many things it's hard to explain them all! Most of all, I'm moved by this young girl's drawing and experience listening to this complicated book. Just wonderfully moving.


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