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May 29, 2014

How learning to read becomes reading to learn


wondrous words journalDuring their first tutoring session, Jontasia and her Reading Partner, Christopher Hall, looked through the vocabulary words they had added to her Wondrous Words Journal*, from texts they had read together that day. They came examined the word “caterpillar” and discussed a definition for the word. Jontasia knew they turned into butterflies but didn’t quite know how.

The following week, Jontasia was late turning in a book report for her Take Reading Home book. Christopher saw an opportunity for positive reinforcement by appealing to her interest in caterpillars. Christopher offered Jontasia a reward, if she brought in her book report, he would bring in caterpillars.  Jontasia was so thrilled that she brought in her book report the very next tutoring session.

CaterpillarsWhen Christopher was in elementary school, his teachers brought in caterpillar kits for his class. This great memory prompted him to buy his own kit for Jontasia. Becoming a kid again and reminiscing about childhood is one of the most fun aspects of being a Reading Partner. Christopher remembers being mesmerized by how caterpillars transformed from small, crawling insects into beautiful, flying ones. Christopher said, “I believe that the metamorphosis process can teach a young child about adaptation and evolution right before their eyes. It’s also important to teach young children about how important insects like butterflies are to us, our environment, and the food chain”.

Excited to share his experience, Christopher bought a metamorphosis kit for Painted Lady butterflies. He used this small kit to bring his student’s reading material to life and teach his student about the world around her.

This kit sparked interest within the reading center and encouraged other students to learn about natural sciences. Books often offer secondhand experience, opening up a world that students may not get to explore firsthand, but through this butterfly kit, all of the Reading Partners students got to see metamorphosis firsthand. Every student-tutor pair in the reading center got to share in the joy and excitement of watching the caterpillars’ transformation.

Each week the caterpillars looked different and this prompted new conversations about nature and the lifecycle. The caterpillars turned into butterflies and the butterflies hatched new eggs. Leaving a legacy for a new group of eager young readers in need of a little motivation and guidance.


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