I was reading with one of my Grade 2 groups this morning. It was our second day of working on a little book about George Washington Carver, the American who invented peanut agricultural science. Apparently this guy invented such interesting peanut products as peanut milk, peanut hay, peanut soap, peanut paper. Heady stuff for seven-year-olds to learn about.
We’d talked about the pictures in the book, predicted what was happening on each page, discussed how such things could be made. We’d read the book together – well, I read it and they chimed in whenever there were words they knew. They’d read it with partners – hopefully, reading more than a word or two per page. And now, they were each going to read a page to me. Their solo flight, so to speak.
The first page began with the sentence “George Washington Carver was a man who invented 300 ways to use peanuts.”
The little boy I chose to read that page could not for the life of him remember the name of the man we’d been talking about for two days. He tried to mumble through till he got to “was a man”, but I stopped him and told him that I hadn’t heard him read the beginning of the sentence. He looked up at me, worried. I encouraged him to try to sound it out, to use some of the decoding tricks that we had been working on since September. I didn’t think he would be able to sound out “George” (he’s only seven, after all!), but I was hoping that he’d get a bit of it, which might jog his memory and then he’d recall the whole name.
Instead, he puzzled silently over the words for a few seconds, then tried, “Cal Clutterbuck?”
First of all, that doesn’t even make sense if you’re trying to sound out “George Washington Carver” (except maybe for the letter C in “Carver”).
Second of all, that REALLY doesn’t make sense unless you’re a fan of a particular right winger for the Minnesota Wild NHL hockey team – and we don’t live in Minnesota here.
And third of all, isn’t that one of the most cartoon-ish names you’ve ever heard?
This kid really needs help with his reading. And his hockey.