Labor Day weekend has come and gone. All schools are in session. Some have been for a week or so. Others have over a month in. It’s that time of transitions. No more “wearing white”. Getting out the college football colors and fall clothes. Trying to prep fo hot weather in un-airconditioned buildings.
I remember kindergarten in a country school. It was less than four miles from our house. Easy access. A true neighborhood school. The old “be careful what you wish for” as it was a small building and classes were combined. I loved that I was allowed to read. I hated that we wasted our time on silly worksheets and coloring pages and so much Dick, Jane, Sally, Spot and Puff. Their lives didn’t match our rural farm lives.
And then first grade was in town. In an addition to the school. First grade with other first grade classes. First grade where I could only read books off the first grade shelf in the library. First grade where I read all the books by the end of the first quarter. First grade where my teacher tore up my page with a red sun, a purple sky and green flowers. That wasn’t her picture. First grade where it didn’t matter what I needed or wanted to learn. First grade where I was going to conform. First grade where I was sick. A lot. first grade where I can still remember the number of tiles on the bathroom walls, the floor, and even the ceiling.
First grade when I hated school.
Hated the Dick, Jane, Sally, Spot and Puff stories that I already read the year before. They were awful the first time. They were an even bigger waste of time the second time around. I didn’t excel at coloring inside the lines. I wanted the task to be done. I wanted to be able to read, write and draw. Creativity was not prized. My pictures never made the wall. I know exactly how Lois Lowry’s Anastasia Krupnik felt when her teacher gave her an F for her free verse poem and this poem by Robert Gianni was praised.
“I have a dog whose name is Spot.He likes to eat and drink a lot.When I put water in his dish,He laps it up just like a fish.” *(Anastasia Krupnik by Lois Lowry)
Which school better met my needs?
Access and Equity matter. All students need access to quality education. Equity is huge. The books that I was mining this holiday weekend are here. There are many others I could have consulted, but these were at the top of my stack!
What’s our goal?
If it truly is to “grow readers and writers” – students who want to read, who do read, and who love to read – kids need access to books. That’s an equity issue whether the school doesn’t even have books – due to their zip code! Or because the students have a new teacher and of course there is NO classroom library set up magically waiting for new teachers!
And then time to read glorious books. Self-selected books. Books that match their interests! Books that make sense to them!
Literacy for ALL . . . What does that mean?
Communicating as a priority. Classrooms not existing as rooms of silence!
Books that reflect the composition of the classroom and the communities around the world. No more “Boy Books” or “Girl Books”! Has you thinking been challenged?
A focus on learning NOT assessing.
The real tangible goal. Are ALL students progressing? Are all students learning self-assessment? Are students developing their own goals and agency? Are students transferring their literacy work to other content areas? What are your students telling you? Do they love learning? Are they curious?
Here are a few of the quotes I’m still holding onto . . .
How did you grow your knowledge and skills this summer?
What are you still wondering about?
What questions do your need answered?
What quotes would you add?
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
That big star? Always in the North?
Easier to see out in the country
Away from “city” lights
Easily 100 carats bright
A stationary beacon.
It was a lab extra credit. We took turns looking through a telescope. But we really liked the view from the quilt on the ground. The sky sprinkled with twinkling lights was mesmerizing. And the “city slickers” slowed down to observe just a bit of nature. I didn’t want to be there. The ground was hard. It was late. A book was surely calling my name.
Read me. Read me.
But the uncertainty of whether I needed the extra credit made me linger. I knew my lab partner probably needed my points as well. That night – a peaceful view, a bit of learning and the company of friends and classmates.
I knew this. I didn’t have to be there. But it was Easy. No challenge No stress. Just time, a different location, and an opportunity for an out of the ordinary instructional experience.
There’s something magical about the North Star. I’m not sure if it’s the “constancy”, the fact that it doesn’t move, or just the symbol that guides us that sparks my curiosity (#OLW18).
What is your guiding star?
One of mine is my insatiable need to continue learning… and reading …and writing … I’m currently stuck on E’s
and these quotes from our #G2Great chats:
My current North Stars – my source of direction comes from:
What is your North Star?
Where does it come from?
What sustains it?
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
What is essential in literacy instruction?
How do you know?
Is this something you were taught?
Or is this something you have learned?
As you can see, “curious”, my #OLW is already in play for 2018. It sits on my shoulder daily encouraging me to wonder about new and old issues. So let’s take up “essential”.
What does essential mean?
“1. absolutely necessary; indispensable:Discipline is essential in an army.2. pertaining to or constituting the essence of a thing.3. noting or containing an essence of a plant, drug, etc.
4. being such by its very nature or in the highest sense; natural; spontaneous:essential happiness.” Dictionary.com
Why this book?
What additional information is available?
“”…without that culture of joy and celebration of strengths…we are never going to get our students where they need to be and where they want to be.” @ talks about her new book, Literacy Essentials:”
What makes this book so appealing?
- The format of the book.
The three big “units” are Engagement, Excellence, and Equity.
You CAN begin with any of those sections. They are very well cross-referenced so that you can dip into the pieces that you need!
2. The format in the chapters.
There’s a conversation with Regie with facts, questions, and anecdotes that illustrate the point. Then there is a detailed “Take Action” section. This is repeated multiple times in each chapter which has endnotes for a closing. A single teacher could choose actions to make changes in their classroom. A group of teachers could choose actions to make changes in their building or district. The possibilities for thinking teachers are endless.
3. The teacher in the book.
Calm, practical, thoughtful and thought-provoking conversations. Not a bunch of “mumbo jumbo” from publishers, test-writers, or those who have not been in classrooms recently or perhaps . . . EVER! Real solutions that will NOT add hours to your day. Real solutions that you can advocate for. Real solutions that will bring joy back into your life!
Not yet convinced?
Join the #G2Great chat Thursday, January 11th. Be a part of the conversation or listen in – whichever role is most comfortable for you. Listen in to hear the essence of the text, the indispensable actions, the natural, spontaneous actions that can bring JOY back into your teaching life. Then consider your next steps!
Why does this matter to me?
I remember meeting Regie at a Regis Literacy Institute in the late 1980’s or early 90″s. She was the first real live, up close and personal “edu-hero” that I ever met. She was so kind, so thoughtful and so willing to talk to me even though her coffee was growing cold in the cafe and I was totally interrupting. She’s a teacher. She’s a leader. She’s a reader. She’s a writer. Regie’s amazing!