Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"Flying by the seat of your pants"

“Inspiration usually comes during work rather than before it." - Madeleine L'engle
 We all have had a situation in which we had to "wing it". For teachers, it happens often. But despite the increased chaos, a classroom full of eager minds can really benefit from these unplanned adventures.

 For example, my entire first year, with "Room 204" was pretty much a collection of moments in which my students and I improvised together. They did not seem to mind, and in fact, they taught me the true meaning of patience and grace. Those once third graders gave me a chance to experiment and grow, and most importantly, figure out what it means to "teach". They let me fail, often! I'll never forget sitting at my computer during lunch and emailing myself about the "horror" I was facing. (Some day I'll share those old emails here on the blog.)

The most beautiful part, after a day full of disorganized mess, they came in to class with huge smiles and hugs. They learned to work together and solve conflicts, that to them were life and death. And in the end, I know they were learning, thinking, and growing. There was an underlying faith in one-another. With this level of trust a community can exist, and learning will take place, a learning of even greater depth.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Are they reading, or are they Reading?


A great read aloud -> for ANY age!!!

Do you spend time reading with your children? In modern society children are being pushed to read at a much younger age, and it’s not usually approached as a way to benefit the child’s love for reading. Rather, it’s motivated by the misunderstanding that we want them to “get ahead” and get them prepared to “do well” in school.

The classroom is an interesting place where an educator evaluates the reading strengths and needs for over twenty individual children. Over time it has become apparent that the struggling readers don’t have the higher deficiencies in reading comprehension (when they are reading books at their individual level), and the fluent readers many times struggle with comprehension. These fluent readers have become expert decoders; they struggle to grasp that we read to gain information or to enter into a story. They read words to get through a page, and use strategies to find an answer to a question. This could be a consequence of too much test preparation and the authenticity of learning being compromised.

"Thank You, Mr. Falker" - Patricia Polacco

It’s important to read to our young and adolescent children. Maybe at first there will be some resistance (if they aren’t used to it), but when they begin to comprehend a story and personally connect they will beg to hear another story. It opens up opportunities to discuss issues that are faced in school, with friends, or at home. Furthermore, they will begin to enjoy reading, which will encourage their academic development in all areas.

***Please check our "Books" page for ideas and resources on reading and read alouds.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

School Sucks

A place I love!

 "School is an inconvenience naturally - so our only role as teachers is to inspire learning - anything else will confirm the notion of any generation, "school sucks."  ~ honey

 This is something that came out in a conversation between Abby and myself a few weeks ago. I really feel that this is a reality for most kids. School is an opportunity to be social and to simply "get through the day". It's really a shame, think of all the time children spend in school...lets look at one year and multiply that by the typical 13 years spent in school before graduation.

*180 school days in a year (an average for most public schools)

*4,320 hours per year

*56,160 hours in a school lifetime prior to graduation

Now think about your life, that's collectively 6.5 years (no breaks) of simply "getting through the day".  What could you do with that time?

This connects me back to the picture...for all of the time in a classroom filling in worksheets that didn't challenge me I could have been in Sedona, learning about the rock cycle, desert habitats, cloud formations...and learning how to live in any moment, allowing the environment to teach.



“What they don’t understand about birthdays and what they never tell you is that when you’re eleven, you’re also ten, and nine, and eight, and seven, and six, and fine, and four, and three, and two, and one…Because the way you grow old is kind of like an onion or like the rings inside a tree trunk or like my little wooden dolls that fit one inside the other, each year inside the next one.” – Sandra Cisneros “Eleven”

Just as our years are carried within us, so is our learning...