Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Reflection Series: Part 1

If you haven't already, you must read The Short and Incredibly Happy Life of Riley. Bob Wortman introduced me to this book at a literacy conference in Birmingham last fall. It made me think about about how much we rush rush rush in this world to do more, buy more, receive more, eat more, and skip over the happiness, the growth, and the joy of today....simply to move quickly in the to race to the top. Fortunately, Riley, the main character in this book, reminds us to be happy just where we are and dwell in the moments of these fast moving days. In classrooms across the country, it's that time of year to stop and look back at the work, the learning, the growth, and the memories made with your students. It's time to find out what they internalized and what they will go away with as they walk out the doors of our classrooms on the last day of school. As tempting as it may be to "cover one more thing" or shove a few more standards down the throats of the children in our advice is DON'T DO IT. It's time to release our inner Riley....slow down....dwell in the happy moments of today....celebrate student growth.....and reflect. This post will be the first in a series of ways we can slow down, reflect, and give our students time to celebrate their growth as learners and as people. Last week I asked my students to name the top three things that helped them grow as readers writers and people. Below are a few of the student responses. Try it in your classroom today. You will be amazed, surprised, and will feel the need to cheer and mail the responses to Arne Duncan with a LEAVE US ALONE WE KNOW WHAT'S BEST FOR KIDS message attached to the front of the envelope.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Preparing the Soil for Growth

Just as soil has to be prepared for the growth of your favorite garden flowers, the classroom requires that same preparation and tender loving care....for the children who will grow to be readers, writers, mathematicians, social scientists, and incredible human beings inside (and outside) those four walls. Yesterday, my friend Andrea emailed me about classroom setup. We have about two weeks of school left in the year, and she's already thinking about next year's classroom arrangement! I'm thinking about just making it through the day without my amazing student teacher, who's been by my side for the last seven weeks. Our room will feel different today. Someone special will be missing from the thinking, talking, writing, reading, and learning. Environment is important, but what makes a classroom come to life are the people who inhabit that space with you every single day. Today's post is for you, Andrea, and anyone who's already thinking about arranging or re-arranging your classroom to fit the needs of the children in your care. Below are several shots of classrooms of mine over the years.... Hope this helps! love, AM