Celebrate: Access and Permission

Wednesday the wind kicked up and dislodged dried flowers from trees surrounding my classroom. They floated onto the playground and children lifted their arms and spun around.  It was “the funniest thing ever” according to the three who took the longest to get back into the classroom. Wilder winds caused havoc to the north and south of us, but for my kiddos the wind is magical.

Wind, the impending winter holiday break, Christmas decorations on everything from sweaters to classrooms has heightened emotions and not surprisingly led to frustration and tears. This is a difficult time for students and teachers. Hurt feelings and worry bubble up in unexpected ways.  To counter these effects, I have focused on keeping the classroom inviting and low pressure by celebrating picture books and student writing.

This week students scoured potential Caldecott Medal winners. Every day my kiddos get a new book to read and evaluate. We are so fortunate to have a public library with access to these beautiful books.  I love this work not just for the conversations it inspires but for the discoveries. The selection of books are so diverse, students are engaged in many ways. World War I ships, Muddy Waters, poetry, the study of elephants, a bathtub version of Moby Dick are just some of the topics covered by this wide array of books. The stories are sweet and funny. A perfect way to celebrate books.

I gave my students spirals for poetry. My intent was to start a weekly collection of poems, but my students had other ideas.
“Can we write poetry?”
“Can we look at the poetry books?”
I had no idea they thought they needed permission or a notebook to read or write poetry.

I set aside thirty minutes a day to introduce and promote our new blog.  It has taken very little effort on my part to get the blog going.  I set up categories of narrative, informational, book reviews, poetry, and opinion. With those simple descriptors, students got the idea. After one week we have 48 published posts and nearly 200 comments. It never fails: giving students a way to write for each other is a way to get students to write.

This week I celebrate access and permission. A simple and often overlooked formula for engagement in literacy.

Read more celebration posts here, on Ruth Ayers Writes.