There are always flowers for those who want to see them.
One of my favorite movies is The Princess Bride, and my favorite character in The Princess Bride is Miracle Max. Perhaps you know the scene: They bring a lifeless Westley to Miracle Max, hoping he will restore him. Miracle Max slams the door on their noses. He no longer does miracles. He’s deflated and doesn’t believe in himself. They persist, explaining that Westley is already dead, so there’s nothing to lose.
Miracle Max agrees to take a look and lays Westley on the table to examine him. Miracle Max proclaims, “It just so happens that your friend here is only mostly dead. There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive.”
Every year I receive a beautiful hanging pot of petunias and verbena for Mother’s Day. Every year it is dead by mid-June. This year I was determined to keep it alive, but by mid-June it was dead. My neighbor, who never kills flowers, was visiting. I asked her what to do.
“Keep watering it,” she said. “I think it will come back.”
I lifted my eyebrow to show my skepticism, but I began adding a gallon of water to the dead plant. Every morning and evening I watered my brown and crinkly plant. My mom laughed at my determination and said, “I don’t think that’s going to come back, no matter how much water you give it.”
My teenagers thought it was hysterical that I watered the dead plant. They rolled their eyes, and I could tell they laughed at me in their minds.
Maybe it is just mostly dead, I thought. Mostly dead is slightly alive. I repeated the lines in my mind. It seemed pointless, but I kept doing the things I knew to do to bring life to my flowers: water, nourishment, and time.
You won’t believe this, but my plant came back with a vengeance! It was the most beautiful hanging basket of flowers I’ve ever seen. The purple petunias danced in the sun, and the red verbena shone. It wasn’t complicated to restore, but it did take relentless hope and a belief that the things I knew it needed would be enough in the end.
The same is true in life. The same is true for a very strange school year. Slightly alive is enough to flourish.
This week we look at interactive read aloud. Plus more as always—enjoy!
Editor, Choice Literacy
Franki Sibberson asks a critical question: Do students need to love the read alouds we share in classrooms? She works to move students beyond shallow like/don’t like responses to books.
Christy Rush-Levine considers some of the “underground” ways in which she converses about books at conferences and on social media, and decides to set up a back channel for similar conversations about read alouds in her classroom.
Shannon Dipple shares the basics of interactive read aloud as well as advice for getting started.
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Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share everything from useful prompts to the best tech tools for interactive read alouds, with lots of advice for moving the activity to digital platforms.
Mark Levine explains the many ways read alouds can enhance and deepen learning for middle school students in content areas like social studies and science.
Shari Frost explains why the simple act of “seeing” students can have such a potent effect in building a community of learners.
In this week’s video, Jen Court completes an interactive read aloud in a second-grade classroom.
In an encore video, Franki Sibberson shares how she integrates student choice and collaboration into reading response during daily read alouds in her fifth-grade classroom.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills explain how they support teachers in a professional development session as they plan an interactive read aloud.
In this quick video, Jen Court debriefs with a second-grade teacher about the interactive read aloud demonstration she just completed in his classroom, as well as how it fits into their instructional plans.
One of the most important skills in life is learning to sit with cognitive dissonance. Justifying our beliefs and actions protects us from discomfort today, but prevents us from evolving tomorrow.
That’s all for this week!