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Manage Students Who Read Faster than the Rest
july 6, 2009
FAQ: What do you do with students who read ahead of the assignment and tell the rest of the class what’s going to happen in the book?
Answer: This is one of those double-edged swords. On one hand you’re excited that they are so driven and enthusiastic about the text. On the other hand these students often ruin your prediction/inference lessons and zap the motivation for the rest of the class to want to finish the book.
Lowell Middle School (Lowell, IN) teacher Susan Udovich shared a fantastic folk tale that could help deter this problem. It’s entitled “The Green Ribbon” retold by Alvin Schwartz. (Read Alvin Schwart’s retelling of “The Green Ribbon.”)
There was a school girl who always wore a green ribbon around her neck. There was a boy who consistently asked her why she wore the ribbon, but her response was that she couldn’t tell. The two end up falling in love and getting married. The entire time she still wears the green ribbon. They grow old together and she becomes very ill. On her death bed he asked one last time for her to tell him why she always wore that ribbon. She tells him that he can now take the ribbon off of her neck…and her head rolls away.
Draw a connection between this tale and the fast-reader predicament. Explain to students that just like the girl in the tale, it’s all over when the secret is revealed. Consider starting a new class procedure: For those who read beyond the assigned stopping point, they should pick up green ribbons (or pins, or stickers, something green) as they enter the classroom. It will alert the teacher and the rest of the class that they know more about the plot than the rest of them. It will also help you when facilitating class discussions.
NOTE: When you start to see lots of green ribbons or stickers, you know you can move faster, as the class is moving faster than you’d anticipated.