Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.
[Now you can listen to the Big Fresh as a podcast!]
Finding the Greatest Secrets
I love the way a rainbow forms by sunlight entering a water droplet and bending as it moves from air to water. The light reflects and separates into a beautiful arrangement of color. I know it’s science, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t magical. Because I’m intrigued by rainbows, I always pause when I see them. When my kids were much younger, we enjoyed spinning stories inspired by rainbows. What is at the end? What might it be like to ride down it like a slide? What would happen if we could get close enough to look through it?
In my corner of the world, we are in a season of rainbows. Now that the boys are teenagers, they no longer spin rainbow stories with me. Sam likes to remind me of the science of light whenever I allow a rainbow to capture my attention. Jordan usually has something more pressing to do than watch a rainbow.
Imagine my surprise when in the thick of the morning routine, I heard Jordan’s deep voice. “Mom, there’s a rainbow in the backyard.”
I went outside to the back deck to stand and stare. Roald Dahl wrote, “And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” I thought about these words as I soaked in the pleasure of a perfect rainbow.
“It’s getting brighter,” Jordan said. I looked around, but didn’t see him. “Up here,” he called, waving at me from his bathroom window. “It’s good to start the day with a rainbow,” he said before closing the window.
Sam came out to the back deck, a towel wrapped around his waist because he was fresh from the shower. “That’s a good one,” he said. “You know, it’s just light reflecting from the inside of water droplets. It’s because it moves from air to water that it slows down and bends.”
“Yeah, I know,” I responded. Sam was content to stare in silence at the rainbow.
I like to think it’s a little bit of magic, though. It’s the kind of magic that surrounds us in schools and classrooms and virtual spaces with kids. If we watch with glittering eyes, we will find the greatest secrets hidden in the most unlikely places.
Pandemic teaching is an unlikely place to find magical moments. But they exist. This week, we share more hidden treasures that can be found in literacy instruction, even during an unlikely school year. I do hope you’ll take the time to discover some in your corner of the world. Share them by hitting Reply to this email or tagging us on social media @choice_literacy and #choiceliteracyhiddentreasures.
Editor, Choice Literacy
This month’s Featured Contributor is Dana Murphy. Dana has been an educator for over two decades in Illinois. She has served as an elementary teacher and instructional coach. Dana wrote for the Two Writing Teachers blog for several years and is now teaching elementary school in the suburbs of Chicago. Follow Dana on Twitter @DanaMurphy__ or Instagram @murphy_teaches. This month you’ll find her on the Big Fresh podcast and offering Choice Literacy courses. Find all of Dana’s articles and videos on the site by clicking here.
On the podcast, Jen Schwanke shares about her mindset for finding the positive practices inspired by COVID.
Pre-COVID, Dana Murphy develops a love-hate relationship with the faded anchor charts peeling away from her classroom walls. She finds that a move to anchor charts in a sketchbook and a website for chart images improves the quality of her charts and their usefulness. (This article was first published in 2019.)
Stella Villalba shares three strategies teachers and literacy coaches can use to pause, recenter, and renew themselves throughout busy, stressful days in schools. (This article was first published in 2020.)
Join the Choice Literacy Book Club! Matt Renwick selected the picture book Neville by Norton Juster and illustrated by G. Brian Karas for our April read. Click on the link to hear a book talk by Matt and to download the printable bookmarks. Join the conversation using the hashtag #ChoiceLiteracyBookClub.
New members-only content is added each week to the Choice Literacy website. If you’re not yet a member, click here to explore membership options.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills consider the power of asynchronous lessons in creating a student-centered learning environment.
Gwen Blumberg teaches an asynchronous lesson for a spelling strategy.
In an encore article, Tammy Mulligan finds shared writing is her go-to strategy for teaching young learners online.
Check out our Field Experience courses! Classroom observations are some of the most valuable learning experiences. The Field Experience collection is organized by topics and grade levels, including more than 15 unique field experiences. Each field experience includes 6-10 video observations and several companion articles to deepen your understanding of pedagogy and inspire reflective practice. Free to members.
New PD2Go: Reflective practice and goal-setting are important practices for educators. In this session, participants will consider the positive outcomes after a year of pandemic teaching and use them as inspiration for setting professional goals.
In a course, Choice Literacy elementary contributors share ways to empower choice even in uncertain times like the 2020-2021 school year. We know choice is the heart of teaching readers and writers. Sessions are as follows:
- Celebrating and Affirming Student Identities with Picture Books by Stella Villalba
- Citizenship Choices with Bitsy Parks
- Choice in Interactive Read Aloud with Tammy Mulligan
- Co-Organizing the Classroom Library with Matt Renwick
For those who are willing to make an effort great miracles and wonderful treasures are in store.
—Isaac Bashevis Sing
That’s all for this week!