Archived Posts from this Category

A really good teaching moment…

Posted by on 01 Feb 2012 | Tagged as: Learning Styles, reading, teaching, Uncategorized

I was in a friend’s elementary classroom for a couple days, and was able to create a couple lessons (one social studies based, the other language arts) in advance. They were engaging and most students were very successful. I will probably repeat those lessons in other classes since they worked so well. Perhaps because I had spent time thinking about the capabilities of students at that age, or this particular class, I was already “tuned in” to possibilities when an opportunity for in-the-moment lesson creation occurred.

I was in need of an activity to fill a gap between when one set of kids finished a math activity and the others were still working on it, with half an hour or so left to go in the class.

From experience, I know that kids at almost every age need to work on how to “do” story problems in terms of interpreting from the words to the concepts they need to engage. I also knew this class was working on multiplication: basic facts as well as how to interpret real-life situations that use multiplication.

I know that when kids can work together that it supports many learning types and issues, and that the process of thinking about a good story problem and writing it down engages many areas of the brain. What I think I would do next time is add in the idea of drawing a picture to illustrate the story problem…

Other experience, as well as research I have done, tells me that “content area literacy” (the current buzzword) is something that all teachers should be thinking about. In other words, even in a math class, there are things to read, write, talk about, present…

So I decided to use several things:

  • group work (mostly self-selected groups)
  • student-generated story problems
  • student presentation and explanation
  • individual thinking work
  • whole-class discussion

Most of the groups had about 15 minutes to generate two or three problems (which meant that they also engaged in self-monitoring for time, complexity of task and “keeping it real”). A few kids were not able to participate because they took the entire time to work on the previous activity. One or two students managed to individually write story problems!

We had about twenty minutes to share, and got through all (or most of) the groups, choosing their best story problem.

Listening to them, reading over some of the work a few turned in (I hadn’t asked them to turn in their work, I will next time), I discovered things about what they do and don’t understand (formative assessment). What I didn’t expect to get from the experience was the robust understanding of how the kids are connecting different parts of mathematics and literacies. Or not — the insights into why they might be struggling in specific areas were good for me to get.

The kids were:

  • engaged
  • productive
  • cooperative
  • respectful
  • learning!

And when it was time to go to lunch… they actually wanted to stay a little longer!

Yep. A really good teaching moment.

Supporting our Youth

Posted by on 25 Nov 2008 | Tagged as: celebrations, children, education, Giving, good things, Interesting Websites, Making a Difference, reading, school, social justice, Uncategorized, writing

I LOVE the way WITS (Writers in the Schools), based in Houston, Texas, supports and promotes literacy and writing. I periodically visit this blog that has a poem written by a child each day. There is so much talent, so much sharing that goes on! It makes my mama/teacher/writer/human heart glad.

Today only (Nov 25) there is a contest for people that will give an gift certificate to a random reader who mentions a poem they have enjoyed reading on the WITS blog.

WITS – A Poem a Day

Finding one’s voice is a major goal of growing up. WITS provides children with an opportunity to learn from published authors and participate in activities that help them develop their voice.

Want to get involved but don’t live near a WITS program? This is an idea that might encourage you: find a local school — or a library — with a need for adults to read with children, a need for people to listen to children read. Half an hour a week… or every other week. Take some time. Make a Difference.

Helping in High School

Posted by on 02 Nov 2007 | Tagged as: books, books and authors, children, education, fun, hope, parenting, reading, school, Uncategorized, words

I never thought I would do it, but I did.

I am helping in one of the kids’ English classes at the local high school.  They have book discussion groups, and I am working with one (my kid and two others chose to read the same book).  Today was the first day I got to sit down with the kids, and I think it went pretty well, considering none of us really knew what we were doing!

I was nervous, but apparently this book is too “highbrow” for the rowdier kids, so I got lucky.  The three boys in this group and I had a great time, and I am looking forward to next week.  There is a lot of good material for discussion — if time were unlimited, two hours’ discussion at a stretch would not be impossible.  I don’t know how many parents bother to volunteer in schools at this age…  but I think it is good that I am there.  If nothing else, these are three children the teacher doesn’t have to monitor for an hour, so he can focus on other students who need more help.  Maybe when this book is done I will keep coming back and helping in other ways.  I would like to.

I would like to recommend this book, but there is a caveat.  There is quite a bit of un-necessary vulgar language and prurient topics…  though the book deals with a teen-age boy’s “coming of age” story, I don’t think some of the passages had to be quite as graphic as they were.  Still, if you can overlook this flaw (which could be rectified with judicious editing and small re-writes), the rest of the book reads well, represents the area I live in beautifully (many passages are quite poetic and inspiring), and isn’t “dumbed down” in any way.  By Jim Lynch, The Highest Tide has been a national bestseller in the United States, and may be available locally in a library near you!

Great Ideas in Education

Posted by on 10 Sep 2007 | Tagged as: art, children, education, good things, parenting, reading, school, Uncategorized

Okay, there are so many things that a teacher or school can do to engage learners, that it is pointless to try to list them all. So I won’t.

Of the very best, key are probably small classes/individual instruction, helping the students see how what they are learning applies to real life, and getting the whole community involved in the process in some way.

Our local school, thanks to the librarian, is engaging the students through the last method. He applied for a One Book One Community grant, and got it! The entire school (grades K-8) will be reading and receiving copies of the book Ah Mo, a collection of native stories collected by Judge Griffin in western Washington between 1884 and 1947. A series of additional events are being planned to bring the stories to life…

The most exciting thing I think is that the local tribe is going to be involved. The land the school is built on (deeded to the school by Judge Griffin), and the area I grew up in, was tribal land for centuries. There are many tribal members in the community, though most live in the neighboring county, and we are excited to have a partnership in which we can use the stories to introduce the history and culture of the people who were here before the Europeans. The stories were told mostly by members of tribes closely allied with (and speaking essentially the same language as) the local tribe.

There are many many possibilities for integrating the book into the school year, bringing in the community members, letting the kids do enrichment and extended learning… All classes will definitely visit the tribal museum! I am hoping they will also have opportunities to look at the environment and critters with new eyes. Most importantly, I hope that the tribal members who are students will see their own culture finally reflected in the curriculum and be able to take the lead.

We are still fleshing things out, but I am feeling optimistic that we can do some truly incredible things. More on this project as it develops…

Thursday after Vacation

Posted by on 01 Mar 2007 | Tagged as: broken bones, children, reading, Uncategorized, weather

No, nothing turns out as it should…

Tuesday evening was not as I had hoped. But that’s okay, we’ll cope.

Yesterday was not at all as I had anticipated. I showed up to the school nearly 45 minutes early, had a talk with one of the professionals there, asking how to get the ball rolling on several things prior to a transition in schooling for one of the kids. I hate having to talk to people. I just hate it. And it shows…

When kid gets to the library where we work, I take one look at him (having been forewarned by one of the secretaries that he had asked to have his temp taken because he wasn’t feeling well…) and we leave. Get in the door not five minutes and he’s throwing up.

Good call, Mama!

For once. For anyone who’s counting, that means we spent all but three days in the entire month of February with at least one of us not healthy! Well I wasn’t feeling too chipper myself, so spent nearly the whole day on the sofa surfing, playing games and being very unproductive. And watching the snow come down intermittently. Snow. On the last day of February! Here is a pic of the well kid and what should be my bright pink tulips…snow on kid and plants

On the plus side, I never plan on actually accomplishing things on Wednesday, so it wasn’t a huge disappointment. And I did have the energy later to watch Lost with Tom — it’s one of the shows he enjoys and I haven’t been well enough to watch it until recently. It’s not a bad show…

Today Mr. Blue Cast and I went to see how his arm is doing. Healing nicely, but the cast stays on for now. Another two weeks, they’ll X-ray again and probably take the cast off then. I am just as happy with the situation, it keeps him from overusing it and possibly hurting it in another fall before it’s strong. Better to do it this way than to have him rebreak and maybe worse.

So the other kid and I spent the day resting, doing algebra and talking. I am feeling better (actually still tired, but not dragged out). I think the echinacea I took the last couple days has helped me avoid getting this particular nasty little bug. I hope.

Now, to write an update on the story and think about dinner. Leftovers, anyone?

Another cute quiz

Posted by on 02 Dec 2006 | Tagged as: quiz, reading, Uncategorized

This one on reading style and preferences. It seemed pretty accurate for me.

What Kind of Reader Are You?

Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Book Snob
Literate Good Citizen
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz