Gasping for Air

The last sentence is just beautiful

It is no surprise to regular readers that I am a huge fan of the work of Bob Probst and Kylene Beers. I work with my students to help them understand and discuss text better with Notice and Note and I try to get them to connect to their text with the Book Head Heart Framework. Earlier this week Kylene tweeted out this gem and I just had to capture it in a Canva poster.

Last night my sister sent me a text concerned over some information she read on my niece’s new school web page. The main point was that the school relied on a computerized screening exam (Star 360) to assess all students k-12 in their division twice a year. My sister is concerned because my niece already has assessment anxiety in grade 1 and the teacher told my sister that my niece was behind by a letter compared to her peers. I can imagine the regular reader of the blog know what happened next but for the first time readers I will just lay it out.

First, because I know Renaissance Learning when I see it, I told my sister what the test would be like and that hopefully they don’t put much weight on the results because well it is terrible. Second, I told her that if AR was even mentioned to demand that my niece not have to do it and that any school based competition include an alternative way for her to participate. Parents don’t always know the damage these programs like AR do (not talking about all program type things, some have a purpose, AR however only has one to kill reading joy), luckily for my sister she can send me a quick message and we can talk through it. My sister shouldn’t know what letter my niece is, my niece isn’t a letter she is a 7 year old girl that has the most infectious laugh in the world and a joy that literally pours from her soul but she is a frustrated reader because she knows she struggles, she knows she is behind her friends and by all means why don’t we add some computer tests to her life. Perhaps the goal really is to extinguish reading joy.

I was fired up last night and then went back to Kylene’s words above. I decided I really needed my students to see them because I need to make sure they know what I believe in deep in my soul and I could not write it better, so I shared it with them and we wrote.

Below are quotes typed because it was a quick write not a neat write haha. I will put in the pictures at the end.

I agree with that quote! You don’t get better at reading by taking tests or being told you have 3 minutes to read a paragraph full of words you don’t understand and can’t read.

Grade 7 Student

I know that Kylene Beers is right. That kids should be able to pick their own books and read what they like, not what they “need” to read…Teachers need to let children know that it’s okay to be behind and they can get help with reading.

Grade 7 Student

Books are important because they help you read and they get you off your phone and tv. They allow you to have a world away from reality, an imagination. They give you more than a movie or your phone.

Grade 7 Student

I think Kylene Beers quote is verry accurate and smart. What would be the point of time testing a kid in kindergarten?

Grade 7 Student

Thinking about what might happen next can make the book more thrilling. (on why students should take their time)

Grade 7 Student

Books are for reading. Not for taking tests on them for prizes. They are for people to have fun with what they are reading.

Grade 7 Student

“Readers need a book not a lexile level” I agree with this quote as well because I never really liked AR. It wasn’t very fun and you kinda lost some motivation to read after you got your certain amount of points in order to go to the pizza party.

Grade 7 Student

I agree with Kylene Beers on what she is saying, I was timed at grade 3-4 cause I had a problem which makes it hard to read every sentence. I would stutter and it made me mad. I would write a letter to that school to if that happens.

Grade 7 Student and reading this response made the eyes itch a bit haha

Sometimes you should let kids read picture book even if it’s to easy.

Grade 7

When Kylene say’s that “they need to dive into books and come up gasping for air so they can dive back in” that really stood out to me because finding books that I enjoy can be really hard but when you find that really good book that is how you feel.

Grade 7 Student

“they need to dive into books and come up gasping for air so they can dive back in” I love that comparison. It really makes you think and physically feel it.

Grade 8 Student

“They need to dive into books and come up gasping for air so they can dive back in” This made me think of when I am reading a book and the character is holding their breath and I’m holding mine. When I am so into a part of the book I stop to breathe and just keep reading until I all of the sudden need air because I forgot to breathe.

Grade 8 Student

I remember (in elementary) that the teacher won’t let me read my books that I want so at lunch I go to the library and sneek a book hide in the corner and the teacher got after me and I got in the “Blue Book”! But now I can read the book. Yay!

Grade 8 student (I tried to type exactly as written)

AR is like a bribe to read, once you got your goal there was no more incentive to read.

Grade 8 Student

Last year reading felt like a jail. I felt I couldn’t read what I wanted to and it seemed like they were challenging me. It was also harder because we weren’t reading for fun. But with Grade 7 it is so much fun I actually read at home.

Grade 7 Student

I think [the tweet] is telling us that instead of making kids read books let them pick between millions of books that they love so that they can take the million pound weight off their chest to love books in the future.

Grade 7 Student

Reading through all of these responses from my students I am so proud. I am proud that they felt safe enough to express their thoughts on reading. As teachers part of our job is to protect our students. While they might not be physically harmed by these practices there is no question harm is being done. With phrases like “jail” and “forced” being thrown about without hesitation I can’t understand how some continue to justify these practices.

My students were horrified that my niece was going to have to be taking tests so young, that she was already aware she was behind. What are we doing?

The picture to follow is a students response. I decided to leave it as is. My students know Kylene Beers as the lady who’s words are on our wall, as my teaching idol and today they know her as an inspiration for their writing. I am grateful to know so many wonderful teachers and so many wonderful students in the pursuit of becoming readers coming out of their books for gasps of air.

Love the Notice and Note reference šŸ™‚
The lady who’s words are on our wall šŸ™‚

Book Clubs Revisited

The Books

Why book clubs?

I started working with a book club approach a few years ago as an experiment in 6th grade. I wanted to move away from whole class novel after whole class novel as had been done in the past. Now please don’t take that to mean I don’t like whole class novels because I do… a lot. I also believe that WCN can be more a training wheels event with the book clubs becoming the two wheeler down the road a little shaky but trying. In all 3 of my LA classes we have finished our WCN, Peak by Roland Smith in 7th grade and Refugee by Alan Gratz in 8th. We have reflected and done a little work post text to explore conflict and characters and now we are going to move to a more independent set up with the book clubs. I love book clubs because it provides choice, opportunity to have meaningful talk and meaningful writing time each period. Students get in groups and by the end of the week are responsible to be members of their book club asking and answering questions and sharing their thinking.

How we do book clubs in Room 157

We are starting tomorrow which means speed book dating. All options are going to be out at different tables for students to work their way around and read small portions (first pages, book jacket, review blurbs) they will then indicate their top 3-5 choice on a list. I will be taking the list to look at pairings and if certain groups are going to need much higher levels of support, access to another supply of texts and so on.

From there we will be looking over our reading journals, it is the only “work” requirement they have during the book clubs. No tests, no worksheets, no programs, no clip art. Last year they had to have a pages for each day to show they were reading daily. Because this was a stupid idea on my part I am shifting things this year a bit. I saw a tweet talking about Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle and their 2 page spread requirement. I love the idea and it gives kids the chance to reflect in a way that works best for them.

Now it is not just a free for all assignment. Weekly there is a guided focus question or task that is assigned on Monday and I check for completion Friday. They also are asked to included signposts they find, thought log stem responses and questions for their peers. We meet on Fridays to discuss all we have noted in our books and then set goals for the next week. At the end of the book club cycle they are responsible for a written response that fits into our curriculum and last year they did a partner project. Time became an issue but I am looking at still having a group assignment but it would be closer to Pernille Ripp’s 12 word summaries .

How we DON’T do book clubs

This will be quick. No booklets, No Teachers Pay Teachers, No purchased “Novel Studies”. Moving on.

Excited for the possibilities

Giving students and chance to read and showing them that we value their thoughts and ideas is empowering. We want students who read and think. I am not interested in marking booklets tied to a novel like I was subjected to in Junior High and High School. I am excited to listen to their conversations, check their meeting notes and sit down to go over their observations with them.

I see book clubs as a way that we can cover multiple outcomes and in a way students enjoy. It is work but it is work worth doing. The same can’t be said for the booklet novel studies.

Choice+Time+Access= Joyful Reading, adding in the group dynamic just increases the possibilities for students to explore their thinking.

Moments

In November I signed on to help with our varsity basketball program. I still chuckle about the notion as do many others who know me. This season for the boys has admittedly been bumpy. We are a relatively young team with only two returning varsity players after a large group graduated. Last night was our last game.

I learned a lot this season, a little about basketball and a lot about life.

First I want to say to both our teams, the Zeniths and Pandas, I am proud of you and you bring honour to our school and community. Anyone that says otherwise based on a win-loss record or a few lost moments is not focused on what matters.

As coaches and adults involved in the lives of student athletes our duty is to build up not cut down, criticism must be constructive not destructive. What are we helping by reminding students of the moments things did not go right and placing blame on them? How can we ask students to keep their head up and keep going as we pile the weight of their mistakes on their shoulders and don’t let them forget?

Coaching and teaching have so many parallels. The other day I was going over some writing with a student and there were a lot of errors, a lot of areas that they could improve. Telling them all of them, piling them on would only weigh down the student and make the task seem impossible. So we look at the positives and then constructively add support to the weak areas. As a teacher I want to see my students succeed but not to the detriment of their self worth.

I have had a few examples of great coaches in my life. My father obviously to me is the ideal to try and attain. He taught me that sportsmanship was just as, if not more, important than winning. That players should be taught to help build teammates up, to support and not tear down and coaches should be the same. He also taught me that we can hold players to a high standard and help them get there when they stumble. The other example I now have is Ryan Blackmore who invited me to join him on this adventure this year. I still struggle to adjust to the rougher coaching style of Southern Alberta sports and sports culture. I am not really a fan of the “this is how it has always been” thinking that supports abusive fans, un-sportsman like behaviour and other things I see as issues and when Ryan asked me to join him he said things would be different and they were. He was a great example to the boys of passion and dedication with the occasional language violation that I came to appreciate and laugh about. What was most apparent was his dedication, respect and deep sense of caring for the players on the court, he took the time to build, we improved as a team and as people as the season went on and I am grateful for the time I had to learn from him.

Finally I just want to put in to words my gratitude for the kids. I am not a big speech person, i like to think and ponder and then write. To the student athletes I got to work with and support this year both the boys and girls. Thank you.

Thank you for holding your heads up when things got tough.

Thank you for being an example to the younger kids who come out to cheer you on with their homemade signs and funny costumes.

Thank you for the opportunity to get to know you all in a different role than a teacher in a classroom.

Thank you for laughing with me on the bench as I try and learn a game that is far more complicated than I ever knew.

Thank you for including me in this journey.

Your community is prouder of you then you will ever know and don’t let anyone tell you differently. If you really need proof look at the eight year olds who are following in your footsteps, the kids lining up at the end of a hard fought game just to show you the sign they made. The kids who proudly say they want to be a future Zenith or Panda. Look to the sweet old lady that travels in from out of town to zones just to cheer on “her teams”.

Losses are tough but those moments do not define you and they certainly do not diminish the honour you have brought to our community. You are teenagers and the weight of a town should not be on your shoulders.

Thank you for the season, for the great moments and the tough ones, they are what shape us.

March Madness

Oh it is that time of year where the March Madness crazy starts to over take the world. I tend to love seeing the different brackets on books, poetry and other worthy endeavours to help tap into some of that excitement. I admire the teachers that present their students with wonderful short stories, picture books, novels and poems. I think it gives such a great opportunity to read and write as we personally evaluate the text in front of us to determine what we liked the most.

Today I was shown a post from instagram. The teacher is smiling and pointing to their March Madness bracket. The description below talks about all the different ways teachers use these brackets and then we get to the truly mad part of this, or at least the part that made me instantly open up the blog and write. The teacher in the picture had set up March Madness for iReady a computer based program similar to my nemesis AR in which students with the most points would move on each week in their bracket. So first public displays of students points on a program for all to see and then instead of celebrating beautiful text we are using some awful computer program to put our students in to reading competition.

THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS!

What would motivate a teacher to take an idea that is fun and engages students with wonderful literature and turn towards a program? What would possess them to think it is a great idea to publicly display the short falls of students who do not pass enough tests?

I know this post will likely get me accused by some for teacher shaming. I am good with that. Why do we need one more thing ruined by quest to support computer programs over real books. And while I am at it why have we turned instagram into some kind of showroom for terrible practices in a quest for enough likes to become an “influencer”. Clearly that is a topic for another day.

Today I am going to set up a few different brackets. Short Stories, Picture Books and Poems and we are going to work on skills and celebrate beautiful books and there sure as heck will not be a test in iReady or AR after.

If you read this and feel the need to defend those programs please move on because I am not interested šŸ™‚

Expectations a #SOL19 post

I missed my post yesterday. The least busy day of my week and I spent it researching and watching a movie and reading and relaxing and completely forgot to write. Funny how that happens.

I wonder often if the expectations I have for myself are at times too great. I want to have these great lessons in this beautiful literacy-rich classroom and some days things don’t go according to play.

It is ok. Today is short and sweet. It is ok to not always be adding to the highlight reel some days we are just working on the practice film šŸ™‚

#SOL19 The slightest pain

March 2, 2019, Post 2 #SOL19

Gym Thinking

I start every morning but Sunday in the gym, by morning I mean I am there between 5:00-5:30 6 days a week for about an hour. Saturdays are my favourite because I can work out a bit longer. Today was a leg and shoulder day. As I moved into my squats I had this little pain in my knee. I ignored it and continued to work out, switching to another type of movement and the pain increased a bit. I rested a bit and returned to my activity but the pain soon returned.

I got to thinking about how we ignore little pains, little annoyances until they get bigger and then perhaps at that point we are too late. I look at the classroom and how we might have an issue with behaviours or academics that we ignore because they start small, how if we just paid more attention to them in their starting phases we wouldn’t have catastrophic damage to repair later.

I look at the simple interventions we might put into the classroom as so easy that we sometimes take them for granted. Rest and relaxation give the body time to heal just like small changes in other areas when trouble starts to develop can reset the course and make things right.

It is March 2nd and the coldest day we have had so far this winter. The promise of warmer weather is on the horizon. So much connection in all the thinking today I have been doing but the down feeling I had today could really be due to this obnoxious Arctic air mass. Gratitude for a warm home and Gym.

Until tomorrow. #sol19

#SoL19 The journey

Ok, so this is my second kick at the Slice of Life Challenge. The idea is to write every day in the month of March. It doesn’t have to be long just a chance to write. I love writing on the blog and getting my thoughts out there but some days I struggle to find a message I think is worthy to be out there. Some days this month it might be just a quick thought or reflection and others, like today, might be a bit of a deeper dive.

Basketball is nearing the end

This year I was asked to help out with basketball, I don’t really know how big of a help I have been if I am being completely honest. I don’t know much about basketball but I am learning. I guess that is kind of what this season has been for our team, a learning process. Last year our team won the Zone title, the year before that our team won the zone title. This year we are young as a team and currently, have a record of 2-9 I think maybe 2-10 in regular season play. I have learned a lot of things over the last few months.

  1. Basketball season is long, not hockey long but long and everyone starts to drift off as we approach the end. The kids are less focused, other sports they also play are getting closer to starting up drawing away some attention and for myself, the school work that sits in piles on my desk is really calling my name. Holding to that dedication can be hard but the fun in practice or the close games we are not expected to win but sure get close remind us that we have a commitment. Success can’t be the only indicator of progress and focusing on other things has sure helped us as a team.
  2. Even the most confident of players need reassurance. We have a lot of really talented boys on our team. Many are just learning what playing at the High School level is all about. As we start to fall behind in the score and struggle to keep our heads up I am reminded that everyone needs that positive affirmation.
  3. We can do hard things. This week we played one of the top-ranked teams and controlled most of the game almost winning in what the community at large would have viewed as an upset. As I mentioned we don’t have the winningest of records. But we started strong, the boys came together as a team and we worked off each other’s strengths. It was incredible watching them realize their potential. We sure had some hiccups, about 3 minutes of them in the third quarter but it felt like a turning point for our team.

It is funny as I look at the list how much of it can be applied to teaching. How the year is long but we need to focus on the great stuff, how even the most seasoned teachers need the reassurance that what they are doing is right and that we can all do hard things. I love teaching, I have loved coaching and am really enjoying the journey this year.

Now if spring would come that would really be the cherry on top haha.

Its the weekend I have thoughts

This last week we have had off school. A provincial holiday kicked the week off followed by a board appointed holiday and then finally our area Teachers Convention. Lots of different thoughts have come to mind and so here are a few topics I have been pondering.

Classroom Libraries

This week I have had the opportunity to partake in a lot of discussions and twitter chats around books access, what types of books we are using in the classroom and how we decide what books hit those shelves. The fact is, books cost a lot of money when you are looking for quality. Beautiful picture books and hardcovers are 20+ dollars or more and so as you build your library it is important to be purposeful. It is also important to know that not every book in your library needs to be a hardcover. I have started to follow conversations around increasing diversity in my classroom. It started years ago really as I noticed that I did not have a lot of books with strong female characters. I added books like Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu and Monsterous by Marcy Kate Connolly and the amazing Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand. All books with strong female characters that have received a lot of love in my classroom. Both Monsterous and Some Kind of Happiness have been read so many times the covers are falling off. But it makes me so happy I can’t replace them until they disintegrate. I started to fill gaps that I had unknowingly created by looking for books with underrepresented groups and now have a great start in a collection including popular titles like The Crossover, The Hate you Give, All American Boys and Miles Morales: Spider-Man. My newest addition to my classroom library is filling another gap that I acknowledge I have created with The Whispers. A beautiful story that will have an audience in my room. I am fully aware not everyone is in the position I choose to be in as I buy books with almost reckless abandon. But we can all be in the position to slowly build up classroom libraries that reflect our classroom, that reflect our neighbourhoods and reflect our world. Followed by allowing our students to have time to read them and discover the books they love, the characters they want to learn more about as they turn the final pages and not worry about some test to prove they read it. Which brings me back to my arch-nemesis.

“Accelerated Reader is liked by kids”…Nope

Can we please just consider the wise words of Maury Povich, “The test determined that was a lie.” Teachers will often hold on to the idea that kids like AR and that AR creates readers despite the figurative mountains of evidence and in-class observations and accounts of students complete and utter disdain for this program. Between the students who tell me they don’t want to read because they are not interested in books at their “level” to parents who have discussed while they like that it recognized their children for reading because of the parties it also was limiting them because their children were reading books only for points and not because they passionately enjoyed a book. They would fail the STUPID tests purposefully so their teachers would not force them in grade 6 to read Pride and Prejudice that was their level. They would watch movies of books to squeak by on the tests to get their cardboard-esque piece of pizza or 5 cent eraser topper. I have had students, year after year, as they leave elementary and those who cling to AR like it is some miracle cure to kids not reading recall all the ways they trick the system, the fake reading and movie watching, the reading ten low-level books and taking the tests to make that last 5 points for the party, the telling friends the quiz answers. They all cheer when I tell them AR is not happening in my class, we discuss why they dislike reading at the start of the year and before my position on AR is made clear the comments that AR is the main reason they dislike reading is made clear as day. It is just not true that students are motivated to read because of AR, they are motivated by prizes because they are 8 years old and like bouncy balls and doughnut parties but the damage that is being done to their future reading lives needs to be acknowledged so please enough with “but kids love AR” It is not the kids you are thinking about.

Barriers

Yesterday I was in a session at teachers convention that discussed innovation and how we need to change the way we are teaching to help students realize their true potential. I loved the message the presenter set out and how we as teachers need to be innovators to allow our students to see it is important. Points around the idea that failure is ok because it is just a point in the journey and that creativity and innovation are the product of passion and purpose were very motivating. I did get hung up for a moment on one point, however. The presenter mentioned that teachers need barriers removed FOR them so that they can be innovative so that they can change the way they teach. I disagree that this should be on others to do for us. I think if we want to change the way teaching is done we need to be that change. It doesn’t have to be fast and I know I am speaking from a point of privilege. I work in a great school with great admin that trust me to try new things. But the fact remains I had to be brave enough to ask, I had to take those first steps and I have not always worked in supportive places and had to take the steps and show the evidence of why it works when barriers come up. Things like financial barriers will always be there so we need to look at changes that can be made without a cheque book when nothing can be done about money access. Student Voice and Choice costs nothing, cutting AR SAVES money. Working with real books over textbook teaching is joyful and cost-effective, students pursuing their passions in learning is FREE and FUN. If we want change we need to take a leap and try it. If we fail we dust ourselves off and try something else. A year does not rest on one success or failure, but a students passion for learning does rest on if we can help them find their passion and purpose.

Have a great weekend.

The Whispers a Book Review

I remember last year around the time Love by Matt de la Pena had been released and I was struck by a few of the scenes in the story and one in particular of a child sitting under a piano with evidence of domestic dispute surrounding him. I remember reading an article that addressed the importance of not all books for children being these wonderful happy perfect examples of life. That kids need to see tough things because for some this is sadly the only time they might see their own experience in books and that from that we can learn and we can perhaps ask for help. As I read The Whispers by Greg Howard these thoughts came back to me. This is a book that deals with so much, it isn’t always happy but without a doubt, I know that having this book in my classroom, that talking about it with my students I will have a student that connects to even just a part of the tragic and yet hopeful story of Riley.

I don’t tend to dedicate blog posts to single stories but there is so much in this one that I just feel I need to get my thoughts on the “page”. To begin this story has a lot in it. The main character that is dealing with being bullied for being “funny”, the grief of a missing loved one, family dysfunction, ageing family members and pets, friendships, crushes and all sorts of typical teenage issues.

Riley has two conditions. One he was discovering before his mom disappeared and a second he developed after. The second condition is that Riley wets the bed nightly since his mom disappeared, he is ashamed of this and feels ashamed and judged by his father. To make matters worse Riley blames his first condition on why his mother is no longer there. We discover early in the story that Riley is likely gay (I don’t recall it ever using the word though), he has no interest in girls but has a crush on a neighbour boy who also serves as his protector at times. The other kids at school have always made fun of him and to make matters worse he blames his mom leaving on her finding out about his “condition”. He feels his brother and father hate him because he has placed this blame on himself. He is a religious boy and throughout the story even recalls praying to not have this condition. He feels his father hates him and he has heard members of the community say that it would have “killed” his mother to find out that her son was “funny”.

Focusing on just this sense of isolation that Riley expresses in the story, the need to hide his condition the shame of it, the blame he places on himself, the feelings he has that his family doesn’t love him, wouldn’t be sad to see him leave, pushes him to the forest to explore an old legend of The Whispers, magical creatures that he believes will help him find his mother again.

I don’t want to spoil the story because it is full of twists and turns but I do hope that people will read it, that they will put it in their classrooms and that they will not be afraid to share it with students because the messages in the story, the themes it discusses are not always nice, but they are real. These are struggles kids very well might see themselves in and if The Whispers does anything it tells us a story of a boy who has suffered loss, has suffered bullying and suffers guilt for past actions but still holds on to hope.

Disclaimer: I don’t want to spoil the story but the ending is really nice so don’t give up on it during the sad parts šŸ™‚

Exploring Inquiry

Every year I look at ways to improve my teaching. How I might be able to better meet the needs of all of my students and prepare them for the world going forward. Lately, a common question has come up and really more and more every year, “Why do we have to learn this?” That question really started when I was teaching in a testing year. As part of that, the students had to do a writing assignment based around a picture that was provided to them. The constant “Whys” didn’t stop at the picture prompt writing, they only accelerated as they had pages and pages of math work even when they showed they could do it right the first few questions in, or the science lab write-ups for the kids that hated science or as the kids told me this year the terrible Ancient Athens stuff they had to do two years in a row for Social Studies (Side note I loved teaching grade 6 Social Studies and this list is from the grade 7-8 kids that I am teaching now and never taught them grade 6) All issues that seem rooted in the fact that school is not addressing OUR students learning wants but only focusing on what others have decided are their learning needs.

All this thinking has been circling around me the last few years as I try to explore student voice and choice more. Allowing students to have more of a say in what they are doing and to voice what is and is not working for them. This journey has brought me to the battlefield with things like Accelerated Reader which my young readers rate as a non-desirable activity easy to replace with authentic reading conversations. It has saved me a ton of money by helping me see that worksheets and drill and kill type work, novels studies brought to you by the letters TPT and other quick fixes that profit off the backs of desperate teachers are not worthy of my students and certainly not worthy of the time we have, no matter how cute the activities look. Truly listening to my students has taught me that for so much less really is more. We write with paper and pencil in duo-tangs with paper (I know shocking) we read and talk about books and put our thinking on display and my students are taking the lead more and more. But I am still many steps away from where I want to be.

I started getting my feet wet in project-based learning (PBL) a few years ago. I have enjoyed it but again the complaints started to creep in, “why?” Aside from the answer because it is in the curriculum I couldn’t really support much else. I didn’t have a reason for what I was teaching aside from people told me that was the content to teach. I fully support skills and concept-based curriculum but I too struggle with the idea that students have to operate with the confines of examples that do not address what they are interested in.

I have a student who at the start of the year begged me to watch Prince EAs “What is School For” I have linked it if you want to check it out. The video spoke a lot to what I have struggled with and the kids had some great thoughts and reflections as well. What are we doing? What is the purpose behind the practice? How can I do better to communicate that? What can I let go of to give my students even more control? The answer of Inquiry projects came to mind. Open-ended with a focus on skills. Providing my students with a Question and allowing their interested to answer it.

That lead to the idea I am working on this week as we have a winter break. An all-encompassing literacy inquiry project. Containing elements of reading, writing, representing and speaking the project is going to take us a few months to complete potentially but I think it will be easy to stay engaged because it will be topics that matter to them.

Project Speak

This will be new to me, the adventure is exciting and hopefully, it is the start of changing how I teach Language Arts long term. The goals being more students say, more student control and more time to help with individual needs and less with what others say they all need. Beyond that, I am just excited to see what they care about and want others to know. I will be keeping a record of every step along the way here on the blog.