Thursday, December 15, 2011
Sunday, December 4, 2011
It's a large PDF of student writing samples across the grades. Not all genres are included, but it's still pretty awesome.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
The book mentions Words Their Way as an effective spelling/phonics/word study program that is rooted in the current research about spelling. I love this program and have used it for the few years that I have been in schools, and I do notice success for most of my students using it. One of the biggest challenges in implementing the program, however, is finding a structure that works while differentiating to each child. Whole class spelling lessons where everyone is learning the same words - WAY EASIER. For me - not necessarily the kids. It's been a challenge to find ways to organize both the time and the materials to implement the Words Their Way program, or even a modified version of it, to such a diverse group of learners - I have students who are Emergent Spellers all the way up through the Derivational Relations stage of spelling.
I was shocked to learn that there is apparently a controversy about whether to teach cursive first when we start teaching handwriting. I'm not sure I can back this opinion up with reasons, and it might stem entirely from longstanding tradition deep in my veins and early school memories; but I think that's an AWFUL idea!
But here's my attempt at reasons. I'm thinking about how Jackson reverses his lowercase B and D. I'm also thinking about the close relationship between writing and reading - and in those early grades, forming letters in handwriting is a kinesthetic way of learning about the letters they are later going to be reading. Books, websites, all the things we want them to be reading in the primary grades (and even in most of life) are in print, not cursive.
I do, however, think cursive should still be taught. I also happen to think keyboarding should be taught. I realize that fitting both, or even either, of these things into our extremely crowded curriculum and days seems damn near impossible. Then again, we did it.
On the other hand, writing back then was less about content, meaning, writing-as-in-putting-cohesive-thoughts-on-paper. My parents still think I'm talking about penmanship when I talk about teaching writing.
As you can see, I go back and forth on the realities of teaching handwriting in school. My sixth graders are begging me to teach them cursive. I promised them some practice pages, but do I actually have time in the school day to teach cursive the way good old Mrs. Hrehocik taught it to me back in second grade? Is showing them how to make one letter a day enough?
Ah, it's all so overwhelming sometimes.
"They bring two complementary abilities to bear on problems involving quantitative relationships: the ability to decontextualize - to abstract a given situation and represent it symbolically and manipulate the representing symbols as if they have a life of their own, without necessarily attending to their referents - and the ability to contextualize, to pause as needed during the manipulation process in order to probe into the referents for the symbols involved."
Saturday, November 5, 2011
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Monday, October 24, 2011
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Monday, October 3, 2011
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Monday, September 19, 2011
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Monday, June 20, 2011
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Sunday, May 1, 2011
Been interested in school design and how it influences learning for some time. Here's a shot of part of our local school's library, much of it a remnant of its inception as an "open school."
Saturday, April 30, 2011
"No, no, run the other way!"
"You missed a base!"
3 runners on 3rd base, all at the same time.
"Throw it to first!" "What's first?"
Friday, April 29, 2011
Thursday, April 28, 2011
If we drive out those who are motivated by social norms, who will teach? How can we hope to have a stable education profession if we lose those who want to make education their career knowing full well that they will never get rich?
I can't believe how long ago already it was that I last wrote. Amazing how the hustle and bustle takes you away from things you love, but simply can't find time for.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
18 boys. 18 boys and 10 girls. Sometimes I think those boys were on a mission to drive me insane. Other times, I thanked god (and my mom) for my two brothers. (Who had long ago accustomed me to the symphony of farts, burps, and other inane humor that is so attractive to the 10-ish year old boy.)
I gave my fifth graders cool, empty notebooks at the beginning of the year. Wanting to distinguish them from our writing class notebooks (which were to be for class notes and such), I called them their writer's journals. They were for whatever they wanted - to explore themselves as writers. My only rule was really that it needed to have writing in it. (Illustrations to accompany writing, yes; all illustration and no writing, no.)
The motivation behind this was really two-fold. One, I needed something for my early finishers to work on that didn't involve much work on my part. Two, I wanted room to try to fit in the kinds of writing that weren't in the plan for the year (as a long-term sub, I was trying to follow the plan for the most part).
At various times throughout the year, these notebooks got my kids in some degree of trouble. Reading Ralph Fletcher's Boy Writers now, it's all coming screeching back through my memory with the kind of clarity that only ever seems to appear in retrospect. One boy's (very incredible) comic, depicting some kind of violence and/or guns; albeit with animal characters and a legit plotline. Mostly stories and comics that involved violence.
It's trickier than I thought, figuring out ways to help my boy writers grow without them getting sent to the guidance counselor.