Wednesday, March 18, 2015

On My Cardboard Vision Quest

It’s a wild Friday night here at my house. It’s a big cardboard box, a glue gun, some packing tape and me. It’s not the next version of 50 shades of cardboard; it’s just me…trying to build a refrigerator out of a big cardboard box.

I have a vision – it seems simple enough. Cut a door, glue some shelves inside, spray paint the box and behold – a refrigerator for the girl. I’m imagining the look of glee and admiration she will give me when she goes downstairs to play and finds the refrigerator ready for all her play items. She’ll spend hours carefully placing her cans and boxes inside. She will make ‘meals’ for mommy and daddy. She will be immersed in spending time with the refrigerator. She will stop removing everything from my pantry.

The vision does not materialize.

Two hours later I’m standing at the back door chucking cardboard out into the dark night. Begging the roaming squirrels and raccoons to carry away the remnants of my hideous disaster. My hot-glue-gun burned and bandaged hands pleading for mercy.

I had a vision. I really wanted it. I tried. I asked for help. I tried again. But, eventually, I had to abandon.

How often does this happen with students and books? They have a vision of loving a book. They try it out. They ask a friend who has already read it what is supposed to be going on. They go back to it. But, the vision never materializes. They hate it. And eventually they abandon.

When students abandon books repeatedly, do we find out the source of the problem? Or do we just get frustrated that they are a constant abandoner? Do we eventually tell them they HAVE to finish a book? Forcing me to finish the refrigerator would certainly have done no one any good. I had a saw in my hands when I finally decided to abandon, who knows how much more damage I could have done!

When we have students who are chronic abandoners maybe we need to help them get into something they enjoy, even if it is a ‘lower’ level before pushing them on. Just like I probably needed to do some work with other smaller cardboard projects before jumping into a full refrigerator. Once we help get that momentum going and build a solid skill set base, then continuing on to harder projects will be easier.

Next week’s project is a washer and dryer.

Some easier reads that help students gain momentum:

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

Hachiko Waits by Leslea Newman

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