SOL16 Day 13, DigiLit Sunday: Transitions

Margaret Simon’s DigiLit Sunday’s link up this week is around the idea of transition. Having an idea or topic to consider is a nice way to get thoughts going.


When I think of transitions, I think of space in between. Between words and ideas, instruction and learning.  We want it to be smooth, efficient. But honestly, change is difficult. It’s unrealistic to not to expect trouble and bumps in the road. Transitions aren’t easy.

My students are transitioning from elementary to middle school beings. Whether they want it or not, the process is happening.  It’s confusing, disruptive, exciting and scary all at the same time.

Last week, D closed her Chromebook, pulled her Reader’s Notebook out of her desk, put her club book on her desk, and came to the carpet. She waited with ten other students who had just done the same thing. They did it because I had called them to Reader’s Workshop. They know how it goes.

I looked at the ten on the carpet and said, “You will all be very successful in middle school.”

They sat up a little straighter and smiled.

For those not on the carpet, transitions are tough. Taking their eyes off the screen can be impossible. It can hold them through recess bells, ice cream parties, and best friends leaning in. And that’s a worry. I worry about their ability to transition out of that space.

And it’s not just devices.  Some students are in their books. K is in the corner. Reading his book. K is always in the corner reading his book. E is on the other side of the room, head down, on the edge of the desk, book in his lap. M and D try to sneak books into every part of class. These kids would rather read that do anything else.

A big part of me wants to let them linger where they are. How can I be upset about a kid who would rather read or finish a blog post? I love it. I’d let them do it all day if I could. But, school (and life) demand more. We all have to be able to put down the book and do the other work. Yep. Sorry guys.

Students need to develop the muscles required to transition from direct instruction to non-digital or digital learning spaces and back again. We need to learn what works and how it works. And what works varies based on the task and kid at hand.

Yes, it is March, and we should have this down. A third of these kiddos get it. They transition well. For the others change is difficult. They need to be pulled out of their devices and their books to hear where we’re going next.

We learn how together. The work is new and old. I suppose we’re always in transition.

It’s confusing, disruptive, exciting and scary all at the same time.

Transitions and how we handle them can make or break us. They are so much more than space in between.

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers blog for the March Slice of Life Challenge. Read more slices here.



19 thoughts on “SOL16 Day 13, DigiLit Sunday: Transitions

  1. I sometimes wonder what would happen if we let them do what they wanted, how long they would do it. I have never tried. So like you, I call for their attention, and we practice to make the transitions smooth and quick.

  2. As an elementary teacher, I tried to make the transitions as smooth and seamless as possible. I wanted kids to have long chunks of time to immerse themselves, loved the days when they did that. And yet, like you, I know the real world beckons…

  3. Transitions/changes are often difficult for me. I have trouble with beginnings–the “getting to know you” phase of relationships. I recognize that same difficulty in some children too. I like your post because I see that you realize this difficulty too. Your students are fortunate to have you as a mentor.

  4. I struggle with transitions, and they pervade my life. I have SO much respect for how students spend their day shifting gears, especially in secondary school when they have to adapt to different content AND teachers! Julieanne, you are a master at capturing moments in your classroom.

  5. Transitions are hard for many kids. Your patience helps them through, but when you notice the ones who are doing it well, they will continue to thrive. The link up is ready. Thanks for writing and making the topic suggestion.

  6. You notice and analyze and that’s what makes a difference in your classes. Transitioning during the day, through life requires discipline and attention. We need to be mindful of all our transitions.

  7. And I’ve notice with a week of Spring weather and Spring Break just a week away, it is as if no one in my room recalls how to transition from one thing to the next!! I needed your reminder of what to say to those who do transition right away. I sometimes focus on those not. I’ll be echoing you this week! Thanks!

  8. What an excellent post! This IS such a transition time at school. My fifth graders are becoming 6th graders, and my 6th graders are becoming 7th graders. It’s not an easy time, and you’re right – some are fully equipped to make the transition, but for some, it’s much more painful. You’ve hit the nail on the head – “Transitions and how we handle them can make or break us. They are so much more than space in between.”

  9. It’s perceptive of you to notice those who are ready, & those who still need guidance & support. There are times when I still wonder why 6th graders should be UP in middle school, easy for some, very hard for others to navigate that system. I’m glad your students have you, & that you know you need to get them ready.

  10. These words: “Transitions and how we handle them can make or break us. They are so much more than space in between.” These words are an absolute gift to me. They are exactly what I needed to hear right now and I can’t even respond to the post because my mind is firing off in all kinds of directions. Thank you for being wise and brilliant.

  11. I love how you keep your eyes on all students in your room, Julieanne, at all times. Transitions are difficult but a reality of life. You are the guide on the side helping your students realize the importance of moving smoothly from one experience to the next.

  12. “Students need to develop the muscles required to transition from direct instruction to non-digital or digital learning spaces and back again.” There is so much wisdom in this, Julieanne. We talk about building stamina for reading and writing, but often forget that these executive functions that adults take for granted are skills that have to be developed, too!

  13. There was a time when it would have been a dream to see kids linger in books and with digital projects but we want it all for them, right?
    BTW, Julianne, please send me a photo for my video of writing spaces. I need you !!!!

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