Ms. Teresina Ruiz, Dual Language Elementary Teacher
5th Grade, Mater Dei Juan Diego, San Diego
My 5th grade class engaged in a novel study of Como Pez en el Árbol (Fish in a Tree), realistic fiction narrated by a girl with dyslexia who shares her experiences coming into a new school. Participating in thoughtful discussions about bullying, feeling misunderstood at home and school, and academic challenges, students offered practical recommendations or just shared how they felt.
Because the book focuses on dyslexia, the students were curious and interested to learn about this. Thanks to the Diocesan network, I was able to invite Ms. Soto to our class as a guest speaker to share her knowledge with us. Ms. Nan answered our questions and dispelled misconceptions. We learned about dyslexia, how to support classmates, and ways to self-advocate.
Over a period of two months, the novel study supported our literature standards. We used guiding questions and various means to read (aloud, in groups, pairs and independently). For one chapter, students offered advice to the main character. In another, they drew in a journal like the main character did. At the midpoint, students re-enacted their favorite chapter for classmates to guess the chapter. For the final book report, students recorded a book trailer. Evidence of learning can come in a variety of ways. The novel taught us how every mind learns differently, and given the right support, everything is possible.