Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Who's Slow Now?

We were out and about again, so just a quick token to say that I didn't skip a day.

I saw a great quote today, and for the life of me, I cannot remember where.

  • If you've told a child a thousands times and he still does not understand, then it is not the child who is the slow learner. Walter Barbee
Yup, I totally agree. How easy is it to repeatedly teach stuff the same way? It is something I have to constantly remind myself about. We have to use different learning styles, different language, and whatever other tools might help turn the light on for each student in our class. When we refer children to the resource teacher for testing, we should be sure that we have given them every opportunity to demonstrate what they are capable of. I am kind of glad that our new IEP process requires that, to open a new IEP, the teacher list all the interventions and assistance that have been tried. Try it a different way first.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Coordinated Decore Queries

I have been enjoying the extra time that I have available for browsing Pinterest. I find it quite relaxing to skim through and look for interesting ideas that I like. I pin lots of stuff in case I ever want to refer to it again, but really, it is the searching and the considering that I enjoy.

You see, I am not a particularly crafty person. My idea of a relaxing summer is not creating a new colour-coordinated theme for my classroom and applying it to everything I own. A project like this would leave me frustrated and saying foul words under my breath. Let's face it, the clutter in my room is going to bury all those pretty do-dads before the end of September anyways. 

I have been thinking, though, about how many teachers seem to (if you go by Pinterest), re-decorate along thematic lines each year. I am not just talking about a new welcome theme on the classroom door. These teachers go all-out! They do their hall passes, bulletin boards, curtains, seating, classroom rules, and more.

I wonder why these teachers do this. I don't think that a cute, coordinated classroom is inherently more welcoming than one with an eclectic array of items. Perhaps these are simply teachers who prefer to work in such an environment and who are doing it, at least in large part, for their own enjoyment. Maybe there is a section of some teacher evaluation rubric that includes whether the character on the worksheet matched the classroom theme for the year. I don't know.

As for myself, I think I will keep looking for and pinning ideas for math games and hands-on grammar activities. If I get really ambitious, I might even make one or two of them :)

Friday, July 5, 2013

Finding Summer

I have almost found summer, I can see it poking over the horizon!

I don't know about you, but it takes a few days or weeks after the school year ends each year before I can really unwind and enjoy summer.  At first, I find myself still thinking about the school year that has just ended, heading back to school to organize just one more thing, etc.. Also, the fact that for the first while, I need daily naps to recover from the exhausted state in which I finished the year

Then there is the organizing at home. Let's just say that I neglect the cleaning and tidying at home even more in June than the rest of the year. Once school ends, I must try to get on top of things. I try to motivate myself with the threat of having to spend the last weeks of summer in intensive cleaning mode - ick! I'd rather do it now.

But I can see summer peeking at me and I know it is not far away now. I am beginning to be able to consider cooking interesting meals for supper rather than the quick, stand-by meals that dominate the menu during the busiest times. A garage sale in two weeks offers hope for removing some of the unnecessary clutter in our house. I even looked at a teacher book beside my bed yesterday and almost felt ready to dive in.

Here's hoping summer will arrive next week. (Maybe it will even bring some sunny weather without so much rain! I like a rainy summer day spent reading as much as the next person, but it sure has been hard to keep the lawn mowed this year!)

I hope that you are finding your summer groove too.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Are We Teaching Kids to Dislike Writing?

We were away from the house all day today, so I gave my son a day off from writing. I thought that I should write anyways.

I wonder why some kids who can write don't like to.

I am talking about students who don't have fine motor issues, have a decent vocabulary, don't struggle with expressive language, and who have reasonable enough phonemic awareness to sound out readable text. There is no impediment to these kids writing, and yet, they don't like to.

I worry that this mainly has do do with the opportunities and experiences that we give these students to write at school. Have we stifled their willingness to write about interesting things with interesting language by requiring that every word be correctly spelled? Have we killed their imagination for what could be written by always giving prescribed topics and prompts? How about forcing them to write in a particular genre (when was the last time you wrote a fictional piece?)?Are we teaching kids to dislike writing?

Most importantly, I wonder how to reverse this situation. Each year, I begin grade 4 with a big focus on draft writing that does not emphasize spelling, and personal choice of topic. This usually helps several students unstick and open up to writing as an enjoyable activity. Never-the-less, some students find this very difficult.

I will be searching this summer for more ideas to motivate reluctant writers, including my son.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Best Reason to Write

Okay, so my plan of blogging 365 was a monumental fail. I have barely even thought about my poor lonesome blog since the early days of January. At first, there was guilt that I had not blogged, then I put the whole thing from my mind.

So, I am NOT going to make another blogging commitment. I do, however, want to use this space. I have a plan that I think just might work. My son is entering grade 3 in the Fall. While he is an excellent reader, he does not like writing very much. Part of our summer plan is to spend 20 minutes writing each day. We have both chosen to do our writing on our blogs.

I am hoping that a little practice gaining fluency when he has complete control of the style and content will help him to enjoy writing more. I do enjoy writing, and I believe that it is important, but I seldom show it by making the time to writing. Just as parents should model reading at home, so should we model writing if we want our children to value it.

This time, my commitment is to helping my son become a writer for life. I think that I can make time to blog a little each day with that kind of motivation.
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