There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.
Margaret J. Wheatley
In the book Norwich: One Tiny Vermont Town’s Secret to Happiness and Excellence, Karen Crouse shares how the town of Norwich, with only 3,000 residents, has put an athlete on every United States Winter Olympics team except one since 1984. Now, you might be thinking–What is in the water in that town?
Crouse explains, “The town’s adults, generally speaking, have traded the acquisitive treadmill for daily nature walks and other grounding experiences. The residents look out for one another, and their connectivity provides a social safety net that no amount of money can buy.”
Here are some interesting observations she makes:
- The unofficial den mother in the town is Beth Reynolds, the children’s librarian.
- Instead of making cuts to their recreational athletic teams, everyone can play. Kids are encouraged to play different sports all year, so that they build different muscles.
- When the town sent Hannah Kearney, their gold freestyle Olympian, to her third Olympics and she came back bruised and without a medal, the town celebrated her participation with more fanfare than ever.
As I read the book, I couldn’t help but think about what we elevate in society, in our schools, and at home. Do we honor librarians publicly? Do we celebrate students’ attempts rather than their wins? Do we teach students to notice the small moments each day?
I wonder what would happen if we altered what we noticed. What if we started conversations by asking children about the books they are reading, the games they are playing, or the objects they are making? What if we asked about who helped them today or what kind acts they witnessed?
Since I learned about Norwich, I am paying closer attention to what I talk about with children at school, my nieces and nephews, and the kids in the neighborhood. I want to make sure my questions and our conversations celebrate what truly matters.
This week we look at how to plan meaningful special events and activities for the coming weeks and months after the holidays. Plus more as always—enjoy!
Contributor, Choice Literacy
Tammy Mulligan co-authored It’s All About the Books and Assessment in Perspective with Clare Landrigan. At work, you can find her teaching and thinking alongside elementary teachers and kids. On other days, she is in her garden, hiking in the woods, or hiding behind a pile of children’s books. Connect with Tammy on Twitter @TammyBMulligan.
Gigl McAllister explains why you have to be a bit choosy about reading and writing events since there are so many possibilities. Here are some she values in her fourth-grade classroom.
Franki Sibberson shares how scheduling big events can do important work in building the reading community.
Katherine Sokolowski hosts Writing Wednesdays to encourage students to write beyond daily workshops.
Celebrate the Caldecott Awards this winter by previewing the books that are in contention with your students.
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.
The 100th day of school has become an opportunity for classroom and schoolwide celebrations. Shari Frost provides many resources to ensure reading and writing are front and center on this special day.
Katherine Sokolowski uses the Community Timeline Project to bring together students and older community members around history and writing.
In an encore video, Gigi McAllister shares a quick daily routine of asking students to celebrate books they have finished reading, before she introduces a new book to the class.
Busy fall? If you find yourself with extra time over the holiday break and you want to catch up on new content at the site, you can view the Big Fresh archives at this link.
Lead Literacy now has a new home as the Leaders Lounge at Choice Literacy. We’ll be posting the new content updates here in the Leaders Lounge section of the Big Fresh newsletter.
When things get hectic around the holidays, a debrief in the midst of a coaching cycle can seem like one more meeting there isn’t time for in the school day. Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share a virtual debrief option they have developed to use at times when it isn’t possible to meet.
Stephanie Affinito explains how you can spice up a winter professional development session with a read-aloud book tasting and competition modeled after the March Book Madness initiative.
Cathy Mere discovers that her routine for celebrations at the start of staff meetings is leaving some colleagues out. She revises her thinking and practice for celebrations among literacy coaches all year long.
There are many wonderful things that will not be done if you do not do them.
That’s all for this week!