Across the years, I've found routine to be helpful in learning environments. In my classroom, the routine freed children to do the work they needed to do. We'd start our year learning the routine of a workshop. Students knew we would start with a focus lesson, have time to work, and then come together to share. Students knew that in that independent time I would be working beside students. Most days followed a structured routine that helped students to know when they would have time to read, to write, and to learn across our day.
When I started reading intervention I worked to create predictable routines for us to learn within each day. My thinking was that the routine would free us to do the important work we needed to do. Routine helps us to be efficient with our time and takes some of the uncertainty away for students who aren't consistently trying to figure out new tasks, but instead focused on learning. The readers I work with know we will start with familiar reading, do a bit of word work, read a new book, and then, most days, end with writing about our reading. Knowing our routine helps keep the pace of our lessons moving and allows us to use the short time we have together effectively.
While the routine often stays the same, the work within the time has to continually change and grow. The trick in a routine is to stay on our toes, to not become complacent in what we are doing. Working with Justin today I was reminded of this. In the last few weeks, Justin's progress has slowed. I have moved him into a different group to better match where he is as a reader. Justin set a goal to use the first part of tricky words to help with the longer words he is seeing in new books, but I'm not sure that really is his next step.
Justin has been a bit of a puzzle. Even though he was behind his peers at the beginning of the year, I noticed some strong strategies. He stayed balanced in meaning and visual information as he read new texts. He would reread at difficulty for meaning. He looked closely when something didn't look right, and often returned to self-correct. At the beginning of the year, his fluency was limited and his comprehension was satisfactory as he didn't always answer questions directly. His fluency has improved and he has learned to stay to the point during our discussions about our reading. However, as we've moved up into longer books with more complicated text structures, he has hit a bit of a bump.
Today as I listened to Justin read I noticed he would stop to look closely at the word (his goal), but still be unable to figure it out. My first inclination was to have him look even more closely at the word. Reminding myself that he had already tried to look (several times as a matter-of-fact), I asked him what has been happening in the story as meaning might help him. It was hard for him to talk about the story. I had noticed the words he struggled with were often unfamiliar to him and not a part of his vocabulary, but I hadn't really thought about the fact that he might not be really considering meaning along the way in these more detailed texts. In the coming days, we will be working to stop and think as we read to see if this maybe helps him to get over this hurdle.
It would be easy in the routine of our lesson to go through the routine of our learning. I have to continually remind myself to look past what I think I know to notice new steps the learner is trying to make. I have to remind myself that though we have a routine for our time together the learning itself should never be routine.