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November 6, 2015

Student learns the value of the phrase "I can"

Written by: David Lohman, Site Coordinator

There is a girl, we’ll call her “G”, at Sudie L. Williams. She is a nine-year-old second grader, who attends the first grade class to practice her reading. Surrounding her are a great group of friends and teachers, but also the presence of one of the worst contractions that you can introduce to a child: “CAN’T”. She is continually immersed in a culture of “She can’t.” “G can’t read,” “G can’t do this,” and “G can’t do that.” Alarmingly, one of the first things that I heard from her on our first day meeting was, “I can’t read.” She said it so matter-of-factly. Like she accepted it as a truth, something that is and will always be the case.

At the beginning of every session, right before our Tutor Read Aloud time, we have been looking at her new favorite word, “CAN.” Every session she’s had to tell me something that she can do. Anything. Before we start, we need to add one thing to her “CAN” card.

Before the most recent session, I passed her in the hall. She came up to me to tell me that she had finished her ‘Take Reading Home’ book report for Reading Partners. She had a big grin across her face, and her pride in herself was palpable. When G came to the reading center that day, and we went over to get her card, she said to me, “I can read my book.” Now, to be totally transparent, she is not yet able to read all of the words in her book. She struggles with identifying some letter sounds. However, hearing G say “I can read” tells me that she is on the right track. You go, G!

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