One Sunflower

gold stars

on October 18, 2011

The first journal assessments for my students can be discouraging.  Many of them struggle with the basics of drawing a figure or they they lack finger strength to apply pressure with the crayons or colored pencils I insist they use.

Assessing students I’ve had before is also a mixed bag.  Sometimes they revert to drawing pictures of their family for the first few “stories.”  Only one or two hold all the work they did the previous year in them like a daffodil bulb, ready to burst.

Leopoldo bloomed in his assessment last Thursday! He still has problems with his grip and applying pressure – and he and I will continue to work on his fine motor skills, but I was excited because his journal entry showed me a real understanding of story.

The students have a few entries in their journals so we always begin our conferences by walking through each page and I can evaluate what they remember about their work and remind them of the work I’m going to ask them to do.  I open the session by asking “What is going to be your story today?”

Leopoldo had a story ready: “It’s about my heart hurting when I was running on the track.”   What an amazing sentence for an ELL student!  He continued to impress me by changing colors to draw the different parts of his figure. Then he asked about how to draw a heart.  When his figure was done and he paused, I asked, “Is there anything else you want to add to your story?”  “The bubbles!” he exclaimed and proceeded to draw little circles above the figure’s head to show that he was thinking about how his heart hurt.

This soon-to-be-five year old is just beginning to make connections of letters to sounds so his writing below the line was a mixture of letters from his name and copied letters of the alphabet that hangs near the work table.  But he knew that it was important to add written words to his picture.

The only rewards I use in my classroom are gold star stickers that I sparingly  choose to put on student’s nametags when I see exceptional quality.

Gold stars for Leopoldo today – in fact, he was my guest author the following day to reinforce the skills he demonstrated and to model for everyone else.  I think I’ll take a gold star for myself too!


8 responses to “gold stars

  1. Donna Smith says:

    Oh, yeah! That was a delicious moment!!! I could draw the same heart and bubbles thinking about Leopoldo and you working together.
    BTW I always made my first graders use either colored pencils or crayons also. Too many markers make for weak grip and no control. I was happy to see that you have the same concerns.
    Have another gold star day!

  2. grade4wizard says:

    Tank you so much for sharing this story. It is fascinating to see examples of student work at a different age level than my students. Once again I am reminded to look for what the children can do.
    I can relate to the joy of an ELL student surprising with their language. One year I had a very quiet Hungarian boy in grade 2. He didn’t say much and didn’t write much. Then one day he wrote and illustrated a humorous story about a monkey who went to school.

  3. elsie says:

    Good for Leopoldo! He was a star and he will continue to shine. I love the thinking he put into his work. He’s had some powerful modeling in his class.

  4. “Delicious” is a perfect word for this post, Amelia. (Thank you for that, Donna.) Because I am partial to the color silver as opposed to gold, I bestow a thousand silver stars on you!

  5. Vickie Leigh says:

    I work in a Special Education classroom with 1st and 2nd graders. We had a little girl in our class several years ago who, out of the blue one day said, “I need bubbles.” We were puzzled but intrigued. As we tried to get her to clarify what she meant, she said: “You know! Like in the paper when people are thinking – they have bubbles!” From that day on, when we are trying to think of something, we say, “I need bubbles!” and think of Sade.

  6. Linda Baie says:

    Wonderful story, & good for you too for bringing this to the students. I love that heart too, & your line, “like a daffodil bulb, ready to burst”.

  7. C S Peterson says:

    I too love the line “like a daffodil bulb, ready to burst.” It brings such a sense of anticipation to the rest of your gold star day!

  8. I love that you found so many hidden gems in this student’s writing as well as his process–and that you shared the story with us, so we can see what you saw. I, too, love the line Linda pointed out above. It was a great entry to your story about Leopoldo. I also noticed how you artfully wove in the details about this little guy (ELL, 4 going on 5). Lovely post about one of those affirming moments as a teacher.

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