Friday, September 13, 2013

Frustrated Friday

It was Friday, I was frustrated and a little tired. I was frustrated because Little B was having trouble all day focusing when it came to working independently. Each time he would start to settle into a spot, he would jet across the room to often interrupt other students who were focusing on a book or writing a story. Knowing we have had lots of conversations about what focus is, characters who think about focus and what it looks like,  I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt each time I noticed him. I often would slyly walk over to listen in on the conversation.  I kept crossing my fingers that is was about a book he was writing, sharing or any thought about ideas or even a story he was sharing about himself.  I realized it wasn't.  So, I  talked again with Little B helping him remember the lessons about focus and then I found a spot where he could focus during writing workshop. It is Friday, he is 6, I said to myself. But I was still frustrated that others weren't getting their work done.

I looked at my notebook to see which kids were on my list for conferring when I noticed Little B.  His
 page had nothing written on it. While other kids had 2 -3 quick check ins, I realized I had not spent time with him. I immediately felt that ah-ha at that moment.

 I sat alongside him joining the other kids at the table that were writing. He shared his book called Ben Where He Goes ( I smiled thinking how clever his title was) and he read all about the adventures he had this summer in New York, at an OSU game and with his family on vacation. The little girl next to us talked about how she was going to go to Slovenia when she was old enough to visit because her dad was born there. Little B piped up next about how he was going to visit Guatemala when he was old enough because that was where he was born.  He smiled and talked about how he was adopted. We all chatted for awhile after that.  While I had know Little B's background it wasn't until I slowed down to talk with him about his writing that he was able to open up. It wasn't until then that we had actually had our first connection. I know this day was important for both of us.

I was fortunate enough to hear Ruth Ayres speak this weekend about celebration.  She has this amazing perspective about how our teaching with writers is really all about celebrating.  She takes hard and tough situations and find the good in them. She has a true knack for making personal connections.  I left with so many new things to think about, one of them being the power of taking time to relate and connect with our students. Hearing Ruth in person was incredibly valuable for me. And sitting down with Little B was as well.  I am keeping her wisdom in mind this week and remembering to find lots of opportunities to keep talking and connecting with Little B.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Kids Engaging Kids

After 3 weeks of school, I feel like my students are beginning to get the hang of  some of the routines evolving in our room.  They are remembering (with less reminding) to put their folders away and to make a lunch choice. They are beginning to understand workshop and anticipate their time to write and read. And, they are showing more engagement in choosing books that they know, that look interesting or that I have read aloud as they settle into what we call Books in the Morning. I don't know if I love the name of this routine but it is simple enough to remind kids to grab a book.

On Friday, as kids wrapped up their choices during this time, I noticed a little reader, Jack, had tried to read a book that I talked up the day before.  It was Hello! Hello! by Matthew Cordell. (Love Cordell and his books Trouble Gum and my boys love the Justin Case series)  Jack told me how much he loved electronics and how he just had to try this book.  I asked if he would share what he thought about the book with everyone.  But instead of just talking about the book,  he walked over to the document camera, slid the book underneath and began reading the book aloud to everyone. I'm not sure if he didn't pick up on my directions or if he had his own plan in mind but what I saw was complete engagement with the class. Kids were joining in the text as he read.  Eyes and ears were locked on Jack as he helped the character come alive, commented about his favorite page and stopped and reflected during the reading.  It was a great way to start our day.

Jack talked about how he loves electronics and that's why he loved the book.  Other students talked about how they felt like the story teaches them not to stay on electronics all day.  It definitely has a powerful message for young kids today.  Katie Wood Ray writes that kids just notice more than adults do, it's that simple.  After watching Jack, I will say... kids can engage each other more than adults do, it's that simple.