Xavier Writes His First Correspondence

by Sister Patrice Colletti, SDS

Xavier (grade 2)¬† is one of my … more “spirited”… students in my beginning reading class this year.

Learning to read has not been easy for him and his writing was laboriously slow and mostly consisted of one or two words before he started signaling “meltdown coming!”

I kept assuring him that his ability to read and write WILL come. Just keep at it. But, he was always right at the edge of frustration.

He worked well one-on-one with his friends Sister Francine and Sister Jeanette. He worked less well in a small group of three or more.

As the year progressed, though, sure enough… words on paper began to reveal their mysterious codes. By our last pre-pandemic day of school, March 13, he was regularly sounding out one syllable CVC words (consonant-short vowel- consonant- like cub, dig, run) as well as some “more tricky” words like snag, flip, drop. His sight word vocabulary (words he can read without needing to sound them out) had gone from two to about 150 words.

In the world of a new reader, this is significant progress! He was discovering that words could be decoded! No longer was every unknown word a cause for frustration. Moreover, he discovered that he could also WRITE words (encoding, in teacher parlance). While it was hard for him (he’s not yet great at remembering how to write every letter), he finally mastered copying accurately. That is a skill that actually needs a rather high level of perception, auditory and visual memory, and fine motor skills.

Imagine what a joy it was to receive Xavier’s card in the mail today:

Of course, I’ve written back! It’s always a thrill to get a “real” letter in the mail- no matter our age!




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