You don’t always need a plan. Sometimes you just need to breathe, trust, let go, and see what happens.
If you’ve spent much time around me (virtually or in person), then you know I have a favorite shirt. It’s a baseball tee that proclaims, “Family is More than Blood.”
I slipped it on to take Albin Lederhilger to the airport. Albin is a high school student from Norway who has lived with our family since late summer. His exchange year wasn’t supposed to end in March. We were supposed to have time for a good-bye party and a chance to watch the movie Hoosiers. He returned home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and was on one of the final flights allowed into Norway. It was an abrupt change of plans.
An abrupt change of plans is what we are all experiencing. Although I live in a small corner of the world, in the middle of a cornfield, what I feel so acutely right now is the hole that “distancing” digs.
Most of us spend our days making connections. We create safe places for people to belong. We make connections between new learning and background knowledge. We look for common ground to overcome conflicts.
As schools close and communities shut down, the creativity and kindness of people surges. Many educators and authors are offering free video lessons for readers and writers, there are scads of online learning options to keep the focus on creating rather than consuming, and people are sharing their best ideas through social media as they hunker down at home.
We’ve wondered about suspending the Big Fresh newsletter because there is so much uncertainty in the world right now. But that’s never happened before, and it seems more important than ever that we keep publishing new materials for you. Predictability brings peace. So we’ll continue our regular schedule, but we’re going to offer more content in the free section with guidance for how to share the materials with teachers or families remotely.
We’ll also be providing adaptations of some new content for our paid subscribers, explaining how to use the resources as you coach teachers or work with students in virtual contexts. And we’ll still provide new resources that are classroom based, since we know many of you are taking advantage of extra time at home to make new classroom plans and hone your teaching and coaching skills.
This week we look at working with the youngest learners. Plus more as always—enjoy!
Lead Contributor, Choice Literacy
Dana Murphy realizes the best way to introduce students to reading in kindergarten is to apply the principles that work at home with her own children.
Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan give wise advice about launching workshops in kindergarten.
Cathy Mere shares her three favorite picture books for young readers that include a character who lifts another up.
We’ll be sharing more videos with advice for use in remote learning contexts. This week’s video is open to all newsletter subscribers. Hayley Whitaker meets with a group of kindergartners and takes them through a picture walk. This would be a good link to share with parents of young students to demonstrate how picture walks can open conversations about books.
You can meet many of your favorite Choice Literacy writers this summer at The Lead Learners Summer Institute in Warsaw, Indiana on June 22-23. Choice Literacy members receive discounts of 20-40% off the institute fee based on your membership tier. For more information on presenters and workshop descriptions, click here.
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.
Some emergent readers happily browse for books and explore them independently. For others, it’s a struggle. Cathy Mere shares her favorite strategies for helping all readers get comfortable with selecting books on their own.
Bitsy Parks explains how she integrates technology into her workshops with first graders in a way that is simple, effective, and natural.
In this week’s video, Stella Villalba confers with first-grade English language learner Eric about his writing on Angry Birds, with classmate Esmeralda also giving advice.
In an encore video, Mandy Robek guides her kindergartners through a shared writing activity.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share their coaching strategies when they are working with kindergarten teachers in writing workshops. They provide solutions to the most predictable issues that come up. This might be a useful format for online coaching of a grade-level team. Choose three predictable, common issues in a specific reading or writing context, and then brainstorm practical solutions together.
Clare Landrigan leads a demonstration small group of emergent kindergarten readers focused on inferring. They are reading Cookie’s Week. The lesson includes a prebrief and debrief with the teacher.
Are you experiencing a “baby boom” among teachers in your school? Melanie Quinn has advice on assisting in classrooms where teachers are going on parental leave.
No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to a human spirit.
That’s all for this week!