Thursday, December 01, 2005

My Fifth Grade Girls

Yesterday I started reading Any Small Goodness with my fifth graders. So far it is going great. I chose the book because I thought that they would be able to relate to the main character, Arturo, a boy who moves to L.A. from Mexico with his family. Of my three fifth grade girls, one moved to the States from Mexico, and the other two have parents who came from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

We finished the first chapter today which is about how Arturo's name is changed to Arthur by his teacher. He likes his new American name until he learns the significance of his name from his grandmother. While none of the girls had had this particular experience, they loved hearing the Spanish words in the story. I asked them how to pronounce some of the Spanish words and the girls laughed at how Arturo likes to mix English and Spanish coming up with words like "Por Please." They could also relate to Arturo's grandmother going into luto, mourning, after the death of her husband.

The best part was that they actually understood all of what we are reading. At the start of class I asked them to recap what had happened in the story the day before and they were able to remember all of the highlights. I'm excited to see what we can do with this book since they are so interested.

I rearranged my schedule and added a fourth girl to this group this week. She's an eighth grader who is on a fourth grade reading level. (Since I have to see her for eight periods a week, she'll come to ESL for four periods with the fifth graders and four periods with the eighth graders). She is a good fit with this group and I think that this will be better than the last groupings that I had.

This student has an interesting situation since she has been in ESL since kindergarten and speaks almost no Spanish. Her mother came to NY from Puerto Rico while her father was born in Brooklyn. She told me that the only time she speaks Spanish is with her grandparents but her mom mostly translates for her. It is unfortunate that in all of this time she has not been able to test out of ESL. Her reading and writing skills are so low that it is preventing her from passing the NYSESLAT (the English proficiency test). This is clearly a case of a student who should not be in ESL but insted getting help in other ways.

Anyway, back to today . . .

I think that she may have felt a little left out since she did not relate to the story as much as the other girls. When she said to me that she didn't understand the Spanish words I told her that I didn't either, "that's why the book has a glossary." She told me that she wanted to read next and then realized that one of the first words was a Spanish word. She said she didn't know how to pronounce it. I told her that I didn't either but we could ask the other girls. I hope that this is helping her to not feel left out. (Even the teacher doesn't know some of the words). I was happy at least that she volunteered to read even though her reading isn't as good as the other girls.

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