Slice of Life: Reading Lessons in Unsuspecting Places


There is a printer in the hallway, and two printers in the garage. The ones in the garage are there because  no one has been able to make them work our wifi. Monday our printer in the house stopped working.  I told my husband figuring we’d probably need another printer.

“We’ve got two in the garage,” he says.

“And they don’t work.”

He just looks at me and says, “Yes. They. Do.”

“Okay, where’s the manual?” I say, thinking he doesn’t have it.

Surprisingly he shows up with it.

Even more surprisingly, I figure it out in about 5 minutes. Bam! I’m printing. “Yes! I am awesome!”  Feeling rather full of myself, I tell my husband, “If you could find the manual for that receiver, I bet I could figure that out.”

Minutes later he hands me the manual.

Not sure why I asked for this. About two weeks ago, somehow the audio stopped working on the TV. No idea why, and up to this point I really didn’t care. There are four remotes and many boxes and switches involved. All of this has given me a complete hands-off relationship with the equipment.  Because I rarely watch TV, I forget how to turn the thing on. Consequently, I only watch something if someone else is. And even then, I usually walk away.

What was I thinking. Me fix the receiver?  I’m not completely sure what a receive does. Receive something, but what and how is mystery.

Faced with my self-inflicted challenge, I opened the manual and turned to the diagram of the console. Yep, lots of buttons.  I sink down on the hard wood floor and read the display on the receiver. It says, “SAT.” I think, well the date’s off, it’s Monday. But that  has nothing to do with sound.

I study the page, searching for anything that might have to do with audio. The diagram delineates every knob and its purpose. I read it aloud, because that’s what I do with difficult text. “Number 14 – source.” I trace the line that leads me to the knob. “Number 18 – volume.” Again I locate the dial on the diagram and then find it on the black box. I turn the knob. Nothing. Back to the manual and  I look at the explanation of “source,” I read aloud, “SATELLITE/CABLE.” Oh maybe that’s what SAT means?

I touch the source dial

Flip:  GAME.

Flip:  HTML.

Flip : TV and… sound

Ha! I am a technology rock star.

My husband and daughter are in awe.  Both want to know how I did it.

What did I do? I ventured into foreign territory, but I had a history of a little success so I was ready to try. I had time, no pressure. I stumbled around a bit in the text, but I  took my time and played around. I asked myself, what made sense and tested it. It didn’t work, so I tried something else. Tested it and bam it worked!

This got me thinking about how a struggler faces text and how we teach reading. What did I do?

I had a bit of confidence and time to process. I  read aloud. Questioned.  Tested it. Got feedback. Re read with the feedback in mind, and tried again.

In the end, I got it and felt good about me.

Now if that happened for students as they work through a text; what readers we would have.

Thanks to Tara, Dana, Beth, Stacey, Anna and and Betsy at Two Writing Teachers who provide our Slice of Life sharing space. Find more slices and add your own here.