Cause and Effect

This week, students are taking district Benchmark Assessments, which is a bit of a logistical nightmare for me because we’ve got 10 kids who qualify for “individual testing” and only one individual space, which is also the place where I do all my interventions and social groups.  A fourth grader claimed it at 9:05, so Reading Group had to move.

Brought them downstairs to the one empty space: the library.  I noticed from the very first minute that Khaliq (AKA major auditory processing disorder boy) seemed a bit off.  We proceeded through a worksheet on _ch blends: he got two wrong, and I saw a little scowl.  Back of my head running worst-case reasons and scenarios, as it always does.

For awhile now, I’ve worried about Khaliq’s sense of himself as a reader.  The Open Court stuff we’re working on is exactly the same material his entire class worked steadily through in first grade, two years ago: he learned absolutely none of it then, and for the first three months of reading group, he showed no recognition that he’d seen it before.  Last month, though, he looked at me and asked, “I been done that before?” about one of the decodables.  “Yes, you did.” “Do it again?”  “Yes.  Before, it didn’t help you.  Now, it does.  You’re ready to learn this stuff now, and these books will help.”  “Okay.”

That exchange, playing back in my head as Khaliq wrinkles his nose and corrects his last wrong answer.  We move on to a decodable, and I notice that he’s reading more quietly than usual, skipping whole sentences at a time.  Not at all like my usual little scholar, whose finger is always the first one snapping to attention at the beginning of every line of text.

Crap.  Is he sick?  Didn’t seem like it yesterday.  I’ll monitor him more closely during snack, but we gotta keep going.  Man, this story blows. Usually the review decodables are better, because they have more sound-spellings to work with: you’d think a “ch” and “sh” book would be at least twice as interesting as the “th” one from last week…oh wait, that kid pronounced that wrong, better stop daydreaming.

Slog through the non-adventures of a budgie named Chirp and his “impish” feline sidekick, pass out the snack.  The gen ed kid engages me in complicated and dynamic two-way communication; his autism-challenged peer rants as he always does about the (non-existent) activities of his (imaginary) cat Watermelon. Khaliq is still a bit distracted, munching his goldfish and scanning the room.

Oh boy.  Last time he was this off-kilter, it was because he misunderstood what his paraprofessional said and told Mom that a grown-up called him a baby.  Wow, it was a lot of work to damage-control that one.  Better see what’s up.

“Hey, Khaliq.  What’s on your mind?”

Fleeting eye contact.

“Um, the library.  It be made of candy?”

“Er, what?”

“Library made out of candy?”  All right, I didn’t hear him wrong.

“Well, no.  No, the library isn’t made of candy.  Why do you ask?”

“First grade, someone tell me library made of candy.”

“Hmm…Well…it isn’t.”

Relieved expression.  “Okay.”

Okay then.  Well, at least the _ch worksheet doesn’t seem like it’s to blame.

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