Sunday, September 7, 2014

Holding On To Little Things

I've forgotten how rewarding yet hard the first few weeks of school can be.  I forget every year. Maybe because the learning and growth of the previous class is still on my mind.  Maybe we as teachers are programmed to forget so that we keep our expectations high.  Whatever the reason, the beginning of the year always rocks me physically and mentally as we set up routines.  I've been trying to hold on to little things as the weekend approaches so I leave with some feeling that what I am doing and what my kids are doing matters.

This weekend I held onto two little things.

The first was reading alongside a student who is learning to become aware of her strengths as a reader.  We met about a text I had pulled for her to support her. She has been finding a number of books that she enjoys and reads some of the ideas and soaks up pictures. She is unaware yet of how to self correct herself and solve problems when reading, so I was ready to supplement with text that she could practice everything including reading fluently and understanding. As I introduced it to her, I asked her to think about the the story (and pictures of course) whenever she encountered a problem.  I watched her read this and self correct herself for the first time in the 12 days we have know each other.  It was a small piece of joy when she used meaning to fix up things on her own.  Afterwards I asked her about what felt good about the reading and she said, "I figured words out."  It gave us both some happiness and hope for the year.

The second little thing I came across today as I was in my classroom skimming book bins.  I noticed the book bin of a little girl who had been sick for a few days this week.  I noticed her reading log and some post its on the front...
It gave me a little smile to think this little third grader was taking her reading in her own hands. She was taking the invitation to independence seriously.  

I've decided to not only to hold onto the little things as the week ends but to try to hold on to one each day this week. Our kids and our work matters.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Equal Shmequal

I'm learning with third graders this year and beginning to get used to what makes them think, laugh and learn.  It has been interesting experimenting with picture books and learning from my teammates which books may work for read aloud.

Today I encouraged my students to think about what equal means.  The book, Equal Shmequal, is one of my favorites for helping kids begin to think deeper about the word...equal.  What I also realized as I read it aloud  that it made my kids laugh and think. They were turning and talking to each other on their own as I read it.  It was nice to see kids engaging after being together for 12 days.

To help build understanding, we jotted our thoughts about the word equal before reading the book and after reading it. The conversation we had will be one that we can refer   back to throughout the year.