Saturday, December 6, 2014

Bob-His Name Is NOT Bob!

Bob, not really his name, taught me a lesson this week. It was only 3 seconds long, and I might have missed it if my eyes were not exactly on him at that moment. I was sitting at my desk, with a Google document. Students were doing a low tech activity. On the Google document, displayed on my smart board, was a single sentence. They were going to try to paraphrase it. This was a huge challenge for these 7th and 8th graders who really did not have any idea of how to "put it in your own words". Once realizing their overall lack of experience leading to their overall lack of ability, I designed a very traditional short lesson on paraphrasing. I went over the process and procedures with them. Then, with only one sentence to do, I gave them a post it note. They would try to paraphrase it. One single sentence seemed very doable to them. That was my intent. Then they would read their sentence aloud and I'd type it into the Google document for all to see. Finally, after all the typing of each of their sentences,  we'd go through each one and discuss it. Did they stay true to the original information in the sentence as written by the author? Did they miss a big idea? Did they use words that diverted from the original intent? I went around the room asking kids pointed questions. The concept of the evaluation was meant not to embarrass but instead to highlight the good and maybe not so good in each. We found something good in each one!

A little background info on Bob. Bob is extremely intelligent. Bob has social issues and huge attention issues. Bob is very likable but also very immature. Bob does not have friends. Bob has copied and pasted much of his 'work' in the past. So, now we are on Bob's sentence. He actually did a relatively good job. He could have changed a couple of words instead of using the original words, but did change one or two others and held true to the meaning the author intended. I highlighted the positives and then told him he could have changed this word or that one and we discussed what words he could have used. Then I said, "All in all you did a pretty good job!" Then I saw it. It was quick, but I did capture it in my mind's eye. Bob, looked up to the ceiling, maybe the sky, maybe heaven.....and raised both his hands in fists in the air. With a smile on his face he said, "Thank you...." but I didn't hear who those words were meant for. I have my suspicions.

It reminds me that Bob probably hears more negatives than positives throughout his day. I know that is something I have to work on more with him. I know I must give that feedback, but it must be genuine and not false or fake accolades. Bob is too smart for that one and it would water down all positives if I did that. I know that I have to work at 'catching him when he's doing good things' and that will make more of those magical good things. I know I have to work harder to reach him. He is a jewel who just needs some more polish. I have to work harder to make him shine more like what he did this week with his hands in the air and his eyes looking up, Bob reminded me ......