Take a moment and enjoy the Kid Tested Session this month from Margaret W. as told to Joan March.
If you are interested in adding to our Kid Tested Session plan album, please contact me and I will forward your information to Joan March. Our album will be available in the library and a new plan will be published monthly in our Mentor Monday.
Category: Reluctant Reader
Genre: Fiction—illustrated chapter books
Oasis Tutor: Margaret W.
Summary: Margaret captured the heart and imagination of a first grader who was an emotional wreck when she first met him. Her story typifies the notion of “meeting the child where he’s at” and taking off from there. . . even if it puts you, the tutor, a bit out of your comfort zone. Sammy blossomed with Margaret’s help. Her approach, along with the materials she selected to use, could be used for your reluctant readers.
The Story: When Margaret first met Sammy, he was in tears. In fact, Margaret learned that Sammy cried every day, both in the classroom and on the playground. The teacher told her that Sammy and an older brother, who was in middle school, were being raised by their single father. Sammy was routinely late for school. Whether Sammy’s fragile emotional state was a case of separation anxiety or fearfulness about school in general, Margaret didn’t probe. Instead, she got to work.
Margaret’s first mission was to find out what Sammy’s interests were in order to initially select books that would appeal to him. Sammy was apparently stuck in the video game world with a program called ROBLOX. That wasn’t where Margaret wanted to go. Taking the bull by the horns, Margaret brought in a series of “5-minute” books to see if any of those struck Sammy’s fancy. Margaret wasn’t having much luck.
At one session, she noticed that Sammy had the word “poop” written in the margin of his Oasis Journal, where she and Sammy had recorded some words he was learning. “Do you like poop?” she enquired. Sammy, watching Margaret’s reaction very closely, said “Yes, because I know how to spell it.”
As if a lightning bolt had struck her, Margaret thought, “I’ll bring in one of the Captain Underpants books.” (Editor’s note: The first book of this series was published in 1997 and banned by some libraries. In 2012, an article in Slate magazine summarized the appeal of these books as follows: “If you do not find jokes about gas, poop, tinkle, wedgies, and barf endlessly hilarious—if you are not, in body or spirit, an 8-year-old boy—Dav Pilkey’s phenomenally successful Captain Underpants series is not for you.”) In 2017, it became a movie.)
Sammy took to Captain Underpants—the heroes as well as the villains—like a duck to water. The series is written at around a fourth grade level, so Margaret read a lot of the book to Sammy, but he understood it. She had him use his Oasis journal to write about topics or lessons learned in the book that he liked. Within two months of Margaret’s first meeting with Sammy, he stopped crying.
In the first book of the series, Sammy was captivated by a bit of mischief unleashed by the two main characters, George and Harold. They would take signs posted in the neighborhood and make small, but very amusing, changes. See the two illustrations below.