Practice means “to try things that we can’t already do-to take chances, to make mistakes, and in short, to learn”-Gravity Goldberg in Teach Like Yourself quoting Trish Huston.
So I am sitting in my classroom working with The Chilling Tales of Sabrina playing in the background. Snow is starting to fall outside and I just finished going through reading notebooks.
Notebooks or Journals… Just a name
My students are required to use their Notebooks to practice the skills we use in class to help them become better readers and writers. I understand that there are some that would claim this work contributes to Readicide and I would have to disagree. I started using Notebooks (I call them journals) a few years ago. I saw some on social media and I loved that it collected the students work and also illustrated their year of growth. I have spent the last few years grappling with the idea of how best to apply this practice without making it TOO MUCH.
I have tried to be a free spirit and give 100% of the choice of “how” to my kids. TO let them tell me if they need to practice or not. That did not work as they rarely wanted to record any thoughts on paper. I went the opposite direction and required it for all reading both class and independent and well…that was TOO MUCH. So we restructured again. Now I feel like I have found a balance that works. We practice in the notebooks with shared texts and discuss our thinking, our writing in discussions in small groups, maybe adding to the TQE process and at times we work individually putting our reflections in to support later work.
Independent work without fear
My fear was not about going up high but of falling.-Gravity Goldberg “Teach Like Yourself”
The practice time is perfect for not getting things quite right, for sharing our ideas and making strategies fit our needs instead of making us fit the strategies. It is already December, we have finished our first round of practice looking at the wonderful story Restart by Gordon Korman and short stories like Fish Cheeks by Amy Tan, Poems like Mama by Jacqueline Woodson and the North Star by Peter Reynolds. We practice, practice, practice because in these moments we grow, we climb higher and then when we approach a text alone we are less afraid of the potential fall. Because, well, we know we can get up to climb again.
Here are some examples for this last month in room 157. 7th Grade Journals with general reflections, different summary strategies, visualization strategies and BHH at work.