As teachers, we don’t always have the time to walk into other classrooms to talk with colleagues about the intentional design of our learning environments. For this reason, we’d like to create a virtual opportunity for a collaborative conversation. In response to today’s post, we hope you will share a photo of a favorite library space and/or a thought about the importance of libraries on our Virtual Library Tour Padlet.
My son is in the middle of his student teaching. He’s in a first-grade classroom so as soon as he is talking about something, I find myself saying, “I have just the book for that.” Before he can blink, I’m pulling a stack of books from the shelves and boxes where my picture book collection has lived since I moved out of my classroom.
If you know me, you know I’m a digital reader. Unlike most of my friends, I prefer to read a book on a device. I like being able to make the font the size I want to make it. I like being able to highlight lines and return to them with just a few keywords in the search bar. There’s something about having your entire bookshelf with you everywhere you go. I like to read digitally, but I still need books.
As we move toward blended learning, we still need to think about books. Our libraries still matter. (more…)
If you know me, you know that I preach and embrace the principle that teaching, learning, most of life for that matter, is messy. As I think to construct this piece, I’m scratching away in a notebook that contains tidbits from countless meetings, reading and assessment notes, and I’m pretty sure at least one or two grocery lists.
As a whole, what I notice and keep in my notebook is messy, much like the information we keep about our students: classroom observations, formative/summative assessment information, and even notes on their personal interests. We make it our jobs to use those first six weeks of school to know as much as we can about our students. This initial data collection can be very messy – even for those incredibly organized colleagues, whom I envy.
I learn most of my lessons the hard way.
Having a bit of a tendency to dive right into things, I often have to fix the error of my ways. Such was the case the first year I decided to start to blog with my students. I won’t ever really forget the first day I just decided it was time to start blogging. I wheeled down devices for all of the students and, after a short lesson, each student began to sign into Kidblog to write a post.
Yep, that first day the students learned to sign into the blog, write a post, and hit the publish button. Whew, I was exhausted. You can imagine the mayhem as twenty-five six-year-olds all worked to log in and post simultaneously. It was nearly six years ago. We were certainly in a different place digitally then than we are now. Looking back, I doubt my students knew what a blog was. I’m pretty certain they didn’t have a lot of the understandings about digital literacy which would’ve made that day easier.
“Children, just like adults, learn better in a supportive environment in which they can risk trying out new strategies and concepts and stretching themselves intellectually.”
– Peter Johnston. Choice Words: How Our Language Affects Children’s Learning.
A Workshop Community
The learning process should be purposeful, personal, meaningful, authentic, collaborative, reflective and joyful. How do you create a classroom environment that encompasses all these elements and meet the diverse needs of students? The answer: A reading and writing workshop.
A workshop approach fosters a learning community. Every learner in a workshop becomes a community member who embraces these characteristics. It gives children the opportunity to see that a teacher is a reader and a writer who facilitates learning. This learning community will empower voice and choice as readers and writers make purposeful decisions around the work they will do each day. In Teaching for Comprehending and Fluency: Thinking, Talking, and Writing about Reading, K-8, Fountas and Pinnell discuss some characteristics of members within a learning community.
As educators, we are always thinking about what we can control in this profession that can positively affect the outcome of student learning. We all want what is best for our students. Furthermore, we feel confident that our students are getting our best when we are being reflective, both with ourselves and with our students. So today I am being reflective about a topic that has become very important to me over the past few years. It begins with a story…well actually it is Daniel’s story (I am referring to him as Daniel to provide anonymity.)
I worked with Daniel, a second grade student, one-on-one last year. He was struggling with some crucial word solving issues that were heavily affecting his accuracy. Those are the issues that I first addressed through the use of purposeful word work lessons and targeted teaching points. (more…)
I find myself in new terrrritory. I am currently taking a class that requires me to read and write in a new genre: academic writing. I can say with all honesty, “It’s hard!” I find myself rereading sentences over and over. Looking up definitions of academic vocabulary is a given and I’ve found a new use for YouTube videos. Did you know that you can find short videos that explain theories and research terms? And then there’s the writing. Academic writing is not my strength. I can’t even begin to emulate the mentors I am reading. I’m not even sure I have a clear understanding of what everything means, much less write about it. Have I mentioned that this is hard work? I can’t help but put myself in the place of my own students. For some of our young readers and writers, every day in class brings challenges and frustrations like the ones I am experiencing.