Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Opening Minds #2 #cyberPD

After reading Chapter 4, "Good Job!" Fedback, Praise and Other Responses,  I found myself wanting to cringe at the number of times I say those praiseful words: good job, super or nice job during the course of the day. I feel like I have used these phrases as a way to manage kids by finishing a conversation with "praise" instead of telling a student I need to talk with another student or that is is important to keep thinking and persuing their thoughts about the writing or reading they may be doing.

This chapter also reminded me of another book I have read called Nuture Shock in which authors Bronson and Merryman also note the research of Dr. Dweck who summarizes "when we praise children for their intelligence; we tell them this is the name of the game, look smart, don't risk making mistakes."

My big take aways from this chapter:  Praise is about us.  I stopped to think about how I could focus on process oriented feedback.  To do this I had to think about what person oriented feedback I am in the habit of and then set next to it some options for process oriented feedback that I want to work toward.
 Language Habits I want to Change                           Language that will work better

Wow, great job                                                            Look at how you
                                                                                    You could teach others
                                                                                     What can you do know
                                                                                     How did you do that?

Nice job noticing                                                         Thank you for sharing...
                                                                                     You tried hard...

In Chapter 5,  I found myself loving the conversation between Manny and Sergio.  I liked thinking about the importance of making meaning in a conversation and the importance of modeling this for our students.  I think so many times adults and kids are too focused on taking responsibility for the temporary meaning they have made. The conversation becomes about the power (expert vs. novice) rather that making meaning of the topic. I also thought about how I could help encourage these symmetrical conversations in my classroom and in my life. After reading the examples in Cheryl's classroom. I began to think about how the language I need to use needs to be inclusive.  I wote down a few phrases that will guide this work:
What do the rest of you think?
So we have two different ideas...
We have listened to one another and have so much to learn from each other...

Lastly, in Chapter 6,  Johnston states...
"We have to help them learn to imagine what goes on inside heads and not just the cognitive strategies begin used to solve problems, but the complex social-emotional logic that lies behind behavior."

This chapter had me thinking about the importance of social imagination and how to incorporate it into the classroom. I thought about  how explicit I can be with social cues (When I picked up this book I made a face, what was I thinking?), modeling how to listen effectively and how to solve problems.  These behaviors all seem to fit so nicely into workshop routines where kids learn to go and think with a partner or group. I know using fish bowls to involve students in explicit modeling of social behaviors will be key.

I have to say I feel like this book has had the most impact and push to change my behaviors as a teacher this summer.  I am loving it.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Opening Minds : #cyberPD

Thank you Cathy for hosting this PD online around the book: Opening Minds by Peter Johnston. I remember devouring Choice Words and really beginning to think deeply about how my language can impact, first, my own children.  They are always the guinea pigs for me and the practice before the classroom.
After reading chapters 1-3, I found myself nodding my head in agreement with Johnston.  His research and beliefs about the impact of language in almost spiritual for me (especially the pages on praise when reminded that praise is about us vs. the children). There were a few places in these first few chapters where I tagged the pages with little post-it flags (that I drew a heart upon) signaling my love for the explanation of his thinking.

1) My first flag appeared on page 14 when Johnston begins to dig deeper into explaining the fixed and dynamic learning frames. On this page, I began to synthesize what he was saying into my own understanding:  We have to teach children the value in learning and perseverance; not in feeling smart and achieving the highest test score. While I believe this, executing it with supporting language will be the challenge for me.  I began to look forward to learning more.

2) On page 18, I also flagged the line describing how dynamic learners work toward improving the group relationship:
"When people are trying to learn something together and they disagree, dynamic-learning theorists focus on the conflict in ideas and try to integrate their different perspectives. In the process, each develops a more positive view of his or her partner's ability."
This section hit home because I began to think about the importance of modeling. What kind of language will allow me to do this?  What do I say now and how will that change this year?

3) In chapter 3 I began to write ideas for language prompts that will support my students in the classroom.  I love to draw on expert teachers and learn from them. Pegeen and Susie certainly know how to honor children and their ideas.  On top of each page I found myself collecting phrases that support the dynamic learning frame and rereading them to solidify them in my brain. Here are a few I collected:

You have learned so much!
He just made a bad choice, don't you think. Not a bad guy, just made a decision with out considering others.
Look how you figured that out! you made a plan, you listened to one another...
How did you do that?
How did you know that?
Thanks for teaching us that.
Are you ready to get started?Do you have a plan?You don't need to tell me your plan. I might be able to figure out your plan from your behavior.

This book is reminding me again that so much of our work in the classroom has to be selfless.  The work that goes into begin selfless can be hard and takes practice. Kids come first.