T-Bone Terrora vocabulary development story for struggling readers

The students were distracted and noisy—until it was George Smith’s turn to speak. When George wheeled his way up to the front of the classroom, everyone was so quiet that the silence amplified the sound of the wheelchair rolling across the tile floor.

 

George stopped in front of the whiteboard and spun himself around. A confident smile covered his face. He needed to get a good grade on his presentation in order to pass his senior English class, but he knew he had something important to share with his classmates—a life lesson learned and earned through adversity. Although he had lost much, a glimmer remained in his eyes. He cleared his throat and began to speak with a clear and powerful voice.

 

“Hi guys. I want to start by saying that I was a real jerk in September. You’ve probably all heard the story about the University of Alabama football scout coming here to offer me a scholarship.” Anxiety grabbed George by the throat, holding his words captive for a moment.   George took a deep breath and continued. “I thought I was set. I thought I was gonna be part of the Crimson Tide. Ya know?” George shouted, “ROLL TIDE!”  His arm punched upward into the air and the students laughed, welcoming the momentary comic relief.

 

“I thought I was better than everybody—even our teachers.  Yea, I gave them a hard time. I didn’t always want to study. Can you blame me? Who wants to learn how to conjugate verbs when they’re planning on making a fortune on the football field? Mrs. Jackson tried to motivate me. I mean she REALLY tried to motivate me! She told me I’d have to be able to read my football contracts, but I told her I’d just hire a hot secretary to do it for me.”

 

George paused hoping to get another loud laugh from the class, but only Tony Owens, sitting in the back of the room, chuckled. George frowned. He needed to get a good grade on this speech. He needed to dismiss with the jokes and pull out the big words. He straightened his back, mustered up a professional voice and continued.


“Well, I’ve learned from experience that it is completely improvident to live life on the premise that nothing can go wrong. You always have to have a backup plan.” Again the speech was punctuated by an uncomfortable silence. “Just in case something happens like what happened to me on Sunday morning last November.

 

I was sitting in my car waiting for the red light to turn green. The sun was rising, the air was warm, and I was on my way to a new job. Life was good. Ya know?” Anyway, when the light turned green, I stepped on the gas and my Honda  s-l-o-w-l-y and carefully traversed the intersection. Then there was a BANG.” George clapped his hands together for effect. “White powder pervaded the inside of my car. My Honda was spinning uncontrollably, and I didn’t have any idea why. I was completely disconcerted. All I remember was looking through the windshield and seeing a blurry landscape moving past me. I couldn’t differentiate north from south or east from west. Part of me—my brain—wanted to stop the car, but my body refused to move. It was like being in a reverie—no, more like a nightmare! Then there was another loud bang and everything went black.”

 

George stopped and studied his friends. They were all quietly waiting to hear more. He spotted Ms. Jackson too, and tried to be more careful choosing his words.

 

“When I woke up a man was near me trying to see if I was okay. I wanted to answer him, but all I could do at first was wince because I was in so much pain.  I was constrained in the car because the steering wheel was pressed tightly against my torso. I was in shock, but I was also mollified by the fact that someone had already called the police and first aid squad.

 

The synergy of everyone working together was amazing: the police, the witnesses, and the emergency medical technicians. The EMT’s arrived quickly and immediately began to assess my afflictions. The bones in my legs were broken in several places. I needed to go to the hospital, but I needed answers more. Several people saw the accident.  I entreated them to tell me what happened.  I wanted to know if I had caused the crash and if anyone else had been hurt.

 

The witnesses told me that another car T-boned my Honda. The driver ran straight through the red light without slowing down. When he hit me, my car did a three-sixty and slammed into a big oak tree.  I caught a glimpse of his bloody countenance as he spoke to the police. He looked scared. 

 

For a few months after the accident, I was depressed because I knew there was no way I’d be playing football anytime soon. I lost my appetite and became gaunt. I probably was subsisting on about four hundred calories a day. My mom was very concerned. She knew I wasn’t feigning depression in order to get attention or make people feel sorry for me.

 

My mom is also quite sagacious. She began leaving all sorts of books and magazine articles around my bedroom—lots of stories about people who had overcome extreme hardships in their lives. After a lot of reading and a bit of deliberation, I decided that there was no room for the word “quit” in my lexicon.

 

The Alabama scout called me last month. He said if I graduate high school and I get better, he’s willing to come see me again even if he has to wait another year.  Now I’m determined to get back in shape. I’m going to work out, but I’m also going to study. After all, everyone needs to have a plan B.”

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supplemental materials 
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Bullet in his paddock.
Reading teachers are familiar with "high interest low level" stories designed for use with middle school and high school students who are struggling readers. T-Bone Terror belongs to a new genre of short stories known as "short stories with big words." Stories within this genre are flash fiction composed of approximately 1000 words. Students with attention deficit  disorder should have no trouble reading these stories as they can often be read within ten minutes. Despite the short length, these stories are beneficial for building vocabulary because they contain a high concentration of advanced vocabulary words. When used with the supplemental materials, students should be able to build their vocabulary quickly, which in turn will help improve their reading comprehension. Additionally, the downloadable version of the story, which is available on the Teacherspayteachers.com website, included embedded audio so that a student with dyslexia may hear the story read aloud. The free version of Adobe Acrobat reader is all that is needed to use the downloadable stories, which a affordably priced. Check them out!