Celebrating this week with Ruth Ayres is a weekly ritual. Last week I missed it. So here’s to catching up with five things to celebrate this week. Find more celebrations here.
ONE — My daughter passed her driving test. This means she is driving me to school, rather than the other way around. Strangely the added bonus here is time to catch up and have time with her. She appreciates the car and I appreciate the time. A good deal for both of us.
TWO — Our classroom Scholastic News magazine has finally come in and we are loving the weekly informational read. I can’t recommend this magazine enough. It does cost, but the high interest content and well designed articles adds up to perfect for informational text reading and mentor text for writing.
THREE — Student blogging is a huge bonus to our writing workshop. Students reading students’ writing makes the writing real and responsive. My students have been so fortunate to connect to the classroom blogs of teachers Erin Varley, Margaret Simon and Michelle Haseltine. So much learning going on and they love it!
FOUR — Thursday Genius Hour time has become the place we work on passion projects: what we are passionate about or frustrated with. Many students are bothered by people being “mean” or “just not right.” This applies to people, animals, and their community.
One boy, who is usually very social, was sitting by himself during Genius Hour time. I walked over to him and asked what he was working on. He said it really bothered him how people act better than others. “It makes me feel bad.” To fight this he came up with the “Awesome Project” or how to make people feel awesome. He’s not quite sure how to do this but I love the idea.
Another group is writing a play to about bullying. Another group wants to fund a camp for kids who have challenges (they aren’t sure what challenges or how to fund it but that’s part of the process). There are groups that want to improve on Mindcraft, perhaps letters to the developer.
Many thanks to Joy Kirr and her genius hour treasure trove of resources. If you have any interest in doing this kind of work, click here.
FIVE — Parent conferences are in full swing. While there is so much to cover and it is stressful, today I want to celebrate the huge value these conferences bring to teachers. Hearing parents’ concerns and students thoughts offer a surprising opportunity for assessment. In one conference I asked,
Me -So tell us about your reading.
S – Half and half.
Me – So what’s one half?
S – I half struggle and half get it.
Me – Say more.
S – In Huck Finn I got it, it was good. But in Tuck Everlasting I struggled.
In the end, we talked about what the struggle was specifically, how often this happens and what to do about this. Just like teaching, I’m realizing my whole positioning on parent conferences need to be reorganized in my brain: less on me telling more on me listening.