Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Some Recent Thoughts

I started reading a read-aloud book to my class. It's called "Stand Tall" by Joan Bauer.
We're three chapters in. Not far, but enough to determine if we want to keep reading. I honestly didn't think the students were that into it. It has somewhat a funky style with lots of short sentences. The flow seems a little different most novels. It switches topics quickly. Anyway, because I didn't think they were that excited about it, I decided to ask them what they thought so far. Unanimous. They wanted me to keep going. Sometimes, I think that maybe students aren't listening or they don't really care. I was wrong. I was surprised in their thinking. Their emotionless faces were driving me to believe that their minds were wandering. Not focused. Out the window. I was reading them wrong.

Lesson learned : Let students get invested in their learning. They might surprise you. The connection they have to the book was greater than I imagined.


I have been using photo writing prompts this year a lot. We typically do them on Friday after our spelling/vocab tests. They enjoy them. Some, actually love them. It forces them to see a single image and construct meaning and elaborate on the image/prompt at hand. They turn something simple into a constructed/created response. We usually just share them at the end as most don't have right or wrong answers and are debatable. It leads to some deep discussions.

I used this site to start. I come up with my own occasionally as well.

Here is an example of one we did today.


I need to get over the fact that authentic written assessment/feedback from me to my students is the most beneficial to them. "Get over it" as in start doing more of it. My problem is that I don't want to do it because it takes longer to do. Too bad. So sad. It's better. I need to do it.

On a related note, I tend to ask questions in my written feedback. I sometimes have students that respond back and we get a nice dialogue going. Others could care less. But I do know that they had to at least read the question and think about it.


To me the most important thing I want my students to do is to think critically about a text. I feel that if they can do this it will serve them not only within the walls of a school, but as they progress in adults. I want my students to get to asking the "why" questions and the "what" questions. To think deeply. To question things. To investigate on their own.

I found these Bloom's Flip Books I'm using for my discussion of the book Crispin by Avi.


Another thing that I like to really discuss with my students is the theme of novels/books. When the book has gone back to the shelf, what is left? That is how I explain theme. The Take Away. How can you apply what the book was about to your life? The life-lesson. The best part about theme is that it's debatable at times. Everyone takes away something different from a book. When students truly understand the theme of a book, they get that it's not the color of shirt the main character wears, or what is the 8th word on page 87. They take the book with them even when it's still on the shelf.

I found these Bloom's Flip Books I'm using for my discussion of the book Crispin by Avi.


A quote I found today that I liked.

"There is a difference between impressing someone and influencing someone."

I think it's a humility thing. When you influence someone there is a transfer of power from one person to the next. You're saying, "Hey, this is so important that I want to share it with you so that you are benefitted as well."



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