Zaniyah and I must be kindred spirits, we both love Tacky the Penguin! (for class)


After missing Friday with Zaniyah, I really enjoyed today. We started by sitting in an area off to the side of the lunchroom, which was perfect because neither of us were distracted by other student pairs. Today we both chose penguin stickers, and at least I actually remembered to take off my sticker before going to my flute lesson later! I’ve been known to forget on practicum days…


We began with yet another maze, which excited Zaniyah because she really enjoys the challenge of finding out which word belongs. She has done perfectly on the 2A and 3A activities, so today we did a 4A maze. She still did perfectly, only making a few errors and self-correcting without me even prompting correction. She stumbled over many of the words that weren’t the optional maze words, but I helped her through some of them. Her ability to use context to determine the correct word is amazing.


After the maze, we did a 60 second fluency passage check. I told her that I was timing, but that I didn’t want her to try to read fast, but to rather focus on reading at a comfortable speed, trying to understand the passage and sound out each word. She wasn’t worried about it at first, but she definitely read differently knowing it was timed. She read without inflection, and made many errors. She said “trying” instead of “tired” and “eating” instead of “eaten.” She also wrestled with the word “children’s.” It was very apparent that she wanted to skip the word, but knew she should work through it. She read 48 words per minute with 6 errors, not including self-corrections (accuracy 87.5%).


Zaniyah always loves to answer questions, so we finished the sample checklist, C1, about the multiple intelligences. It seems like she is definitely not naturalistic, except that she loves animals, but otherwise she is fairly well split between the majority of them. She is talkative, but prefers to work alone. Very much split between intra and inter personal skills. She is musical and also active bodily-kinesthetic and artsy (spatial). I think that it is often hard to identify strengths in children who do a little bit of everything.


Disclaimer: I hope you don’t all think that all I want to do is force my own obsessions on 2nd graders. I just realized early on that she found my interest in penguins funny, and took advantage of that. I think it was useful for this short-term relationship focused all on testing, which can be boring if there isn’t something specifically fun about it.

Tacky the Penguin!

After all this testing, I gave her a few options and she chose to read a book. I happened to bring 3 penguin books with me, and she saw Tacky and immediately said she knew that story and wanted to read it. So she read me the whole thing (not wanting me to read any of it!) and jumped in to tell me things about the plot long before we reached that point. It was interesting to hear her read a story that she recognized. She picked up on the words because she remembered them in the story, rather than decoding them through phonics or syntax clues (example: companions). We also read a story called Talent Night that is about a penguin and is filled with rhymes and other useful phonics-focused things. It was interesting to see some of the sounds that she really struggles with isolated and repeated in this book, which at first glance looks much easier than Tacky (example: -ung as in ‘rung’ and ‘swung’). One interesting thing about our time together was that she repeated multiple times that she was a good reader, even though her fluency isn’t great. She is confident, and willing to practice lots, so I have faith that she will be a very fluent reader in time.  Also, although her fluency passage went poorly today, her reading of Tacky, especially, was filled with perfect inflection. She clearly enjoyed the story’s text, and she was capable of reading with strong fluency (qualitatively, anyway).

I really enjoyed working with Zaniyah, and will honestly miss our afternoons together!

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6 Responses to Zaniyah and I must be kindred spirits, we both love Tacky the Penguin! (for class)

  1. Jennie Jansen says:

    I feel like student’s never do well when they are timed for fluency. I wonder if there was a way we could have them read and then just secretly time them. I feel like that would be much more accurate anyway of how they actually read. That’s great that she remembered so much from the Tacky story. I had asked my student about a book we read three days prior and he couldn’t remember a single thing. So that’s great that she can lock away stories she loves.

  2. Sara Vermeer says:

    It’s awesome that she could remember the book and that you could see her excitement in the book. Other than fluency, it looks like she is a strong reader. It’s also good to see that she is willing to work on her reading and I agree that fluency will come after they have read longer. I know that I will also miss my afternoons.

  3. It is so good to hear that your student is confident in their reading abilities, I think that attitude is a huge factor in it. It is also amazing how much of a difference it makes when your student is focused or when their are lots of distractions around. That spot in the lunchroom is perfect!

  4. Morgan Stahl says:

    I want to read Tacky the Penguin! I think it’s great that you connected with Zaniyah through your love for penguins. The teachers in my past that are most memorable are the ones that shared his or her own passions, interests, quirks, collections, etc. For example, my 2nd grade teacher loved to go to Florida and collect seashells! When she came back she would share those with us. Also, her favorite author was Jan Brett. I still remember how she got our whole class excited to read through her love for Jan Brett’s books. I think what you did with the Penguin books and stickers was wonderful.

  5. Kelby says:

    This is so cute! Penguins and other things that motivate children is a great way to make learning fun!

  6. Jenn VanDyk says:

    I love Tacky the Penguin! I still have my childhood copy and LOVE it! I love it that children today still love and read that book! 🙂

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