Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.
My sister got me hooked last year on free walking tours when I’m a tourist in a new city. When travel finally returns to normal (hopefully sometime next year?), I can’t wait to try them again. If you do a quick internet search of any city + “free walking tour” you’ll find they are available almost anywhere. The premise is simple—you sign up online to show up to a central location at a specific time. A local guide then takes the group on a tour of local sites. I’ve been on themed tours for cathedrals and food tours sampling tapas in hole-in-the-wall spots.
As with any tour, you learn things you could never pick up on your own. My sister’s favorite moment on a recent tour of a monument in DC for fallen soldiers came when the guide had them all stand in a specific spot. Everyone cupped their ears. Through a trick of acoustics with the wind and a water feature, it sounded like those veterans were being applauded for giving their lives in service.
My tour guides have included a stay-at-home mom, a stained-glass artist, and a graduate student from the local university. All have been as good or better than paid guides in terms of their knowledge, cheerfulness, and good humor. And it’s no wonder—their wage truly depends on it moment by moment, and I know we end up tipping more than we’ve often paid in the past for guided tours. They are that good.
I think a lot about the choices these guides make every day when they show up cheerfully to give a tour, with no idea who will come and what they will be paid. They are willing to
trust human nature,
share their knowledge, and
shrug off a cheap crowd.
But watching those guides just show up—happy, eager to share, and ready for anything—reminded me of the teachers I know back home. In spite of all the pressures we face now, teachers show up cheerfully, day after day, for the reward of seeing a child learn.
This week we look at how to teach realistic and historical fiction. Plus more as always—enjoy!
Founder, Choice Literacy
Google has compiled a terrific resource of historical artifacts for teachers and students working from home—museums with virtual tours and exhibits. There are hundreds available for free at this link.
Tara Smith finds her sixth graders love historical fiction, but the units need a careful launch. She begins her historical fiction unit with a mix of discussion, anchor charts, and shared texts.
Melanie Meehan helps elementary students move from narratives to realistic fiction by beginning with “facts” about their fictional characters.
Our online course from Ruth Ayres, Better Student Feedback, will help teachers and coaches think through how to talk with students about progress and goals, as well as what to do with their responses. The course fee of $39 includes two months of access to the entire Choice Literacy library of 4000 articles and videos. If you have a current paid subscription to Choice Literacy, there is no charge for the course. Click here for details.
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Tara Barnett and Kate Mills explain how they use examples from YA authors of how to mine everyday life for powerful ideas. They then help students move from ideas to blurbs as they start their realistic fiction drafts.
Tara Smith finds that students in book clubs reading historical fiction are often confused because they lack background knowledge. Her solution is to create background folders that include key documents to support the history in the texts.
Mark Levine has many students who haven’t traveled much more than 100 miles from home. He makes history come to life for them by bringing artifacts into his middle school classroom.
In this week’s video, Christy Rush-Levine confers with Griffin over his reading responses. They consider the differences between dystopian literature and realistic fiction, as well as what motivates characters.
Melanie Meehan explains how she takes students step by step through the process of creating realistic fiction when she is coaching in intermediate classrooms.
Tammy Mulligan leads a demonstration small group for fifth graders using a graphic novel about Nathan Hale to teach point of view. The demonstration includes a prebrief and debrief with the teacher.
Here is some timely advice from Suzi McAlpine on four things leaders should avoid when delivering bad news.
The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.
That’s all for this week!