I've been setting up an amalgamation of Fountas & Pinell's Guiding Readers and Writers program and the Sisters' Daily Five/Literacy Cafe, and I'm discovering that having only two students presents both pros and cons, when it comes to a rich literacy program...
| || || |
With only two students, I can focus on 1:1 instruction daily or nearly daily. That's a huge plus, as I've already observed by the dramatic improvements in both boys' fluency, which was their goal area set at the beginning of the school year. I also don't have to consume as much paper, since we often just gather around a book to look at a chart, or post things on large stickies -- everyone in the class has a front row seat! Best of all, I can use strategies that I rarely have time to do effectively in a larger class, like record each student reading aloud so that the student can hear for himself what his reading sounds like, and where improvements are needed.
One downfall of having such a tiny class, in my observations, is the limited input, in terms of generation of ideas when discussing a mentor text. Some of this comes from each boy's academic anxiety in front of his brother (and mom!) I'm sure, but I truly believe that they also just have a fairly narrow scope in some areas, which -- in a regular classroom -- can be enhanced through the ideas of others.
A few things that I think work well to counteract this is the fact that we have various people visiting here and there, and the boys get to talk to them and hear some different perspectives on things (as an example, we've currently got a Welsh couple staying with us a few days, and the fellow was sharing a story of a motorcycle heist he witnessed downtown, which quite intrigued the boys, and they were able to ask a number of follow-up questions). We've also got a play date set up for next weekend, with another ex-pat family who is living here in BA whose mother is a teacher and a writer I met online the other day... if things work out, that relationship will provide a similar-aged peer for the boys to engage with once in a while. (My other hope is that they'll make some chums at next month's basketball camp which they are signed up for at Club de Amigos. This will generate additional fodder for informal literacy-building.)