Product of: Starbucks, Conversations, and Dreaming

Yesterday I was trying to figure out if we have been in school for two weeks or three. I’m starting to feel a sense of urgency in just about everything I do. During the summer there was Starbucks, conversation, and dreaming. Now I reflect, plan, and do, praying that a little bit of sleep makes it into the equation somewhere.

But, I feel like we are gearing up—I’m giving them the tools and structures they’re going to need for the journey this year.

  1. Lots of Reading & Post-It making
  2. A ton of Partner Talk
  3. Generating Ideas to write from

Post-Its. I’m a teacher; I love them, that comes naturally with the job. However, it wasn’t until this summer at Columbia University’s Reading Project that I understood their value for my students. I’m modeling strategies for responding to text in ten-minute mini-lessons and then watching the kids use that strategy on Post-Its in their Independent Reading book. It’s a beautiful thing to see their thinking sticking out on brightly colored notes between the pages of a book.

Partner Talk. I was pretty good about remembering partner talk last year with writing. I understand the importance of talk within the writing process, but this year I added reading partners to the mix. Now, my kids are talking purposely at least twice during the block. Once during reading; once during writing. I’m modeling this talk with my coteachers and other kids in mini-lessons, and mid-workshop interruptions. Sure, I’m hearing off topic talking. Sure, this is taking up valuable time. But, I’m thinking, give me another week or two and everyone will know my expectations for both reading and writing partners—from that point, these partner talk relationships will become invaluable to my instruction.

Generating. It’s weird to say I teach my kids to think up their own ideas. It’s even weird to me that they can’t just do it on their own. I mean they have facebook; they like to post. But, in response to their cries of, “What should I write about today?” I’ve learned the importance of teaching them to generate their own ideas. I try to give them about one generating strategy a week in the beginning of the year to get them going with ideas. Then later in the year, if they come to me with the awful, “What should I write about today?” question, I can simply point them to my wall charts and move on with a smile.

It’s the end of week two, it’s the product of: Starbucks, conversations, and dreaming.