As I lay me down to slumber,
All I need is one more number.
A Bingo Player’s Prayer
It was the middle of a dreary, wet, and brutally cold week on the beach. With the nearest movie theater more than an hour away, our entertainment options were limited. So when I noticed an announcement at the post office for a weekly bingo tournament at the local fishing club, I talked my husband Dave into joining me.
We shuffled through the line at the door, chatting with the friendly volunteers when we picked up the cards, as well as an explanation form for the different bingo games. After I paid, I noticed Dave was quiet, carefully studying the explanation of the rules and then asking me questions. Finally I asked, “Have you ever been to a bingo night?” I was stunned to discover he hadn’t.
Those nights were staple of my midwestern childhood. It seemed like they were always held in church basements or community centers, the moist air filled with the smells of stale popcorn and cheap hot dogs. My sisters and I would laugh at the old-timers with their slew of cards, daubers, and lucky troll dolls lined up as talismans. How could anyone get through an American childhood without being dragged at least once to a bingo hall? “Just lucky, I guess,” was my husband’s wry response.
The evening turned out well, if only because there were some locals happy to jawbone during breaks about good fishing spots and recent catches. Yet it was still another reminder that my childhood wasn’t the same as others, and the experiences and lingo from it aren’t necessarily shared by all.
Everyone knows what a minilesson is. Or so we assume when we chat with parents and specialists. Our shorthand of DRA, IEP, and a host of other pieces of academic life pepper our speech constantly. Jaded teachers even set up covert bingo boards at dreaded staff meetings, scoring a daub every time the administrator mentions mastery, differentiation, the growth mindset, or whatever else lands on the buzzword of the year list.
But imagine how scary it is to a parent, with no guide sheet to explain what all those odd terms and acronyms mean when faced with them during a conference about why their child is struggling. New teachers often find themselves in the same position in trying to understand the language norms and unique rituals in each school community. A friend told me she was bewildered the first few Fridays at her school when everyone showed up wearing red. Someone finally explained it was a tribute to a favorite teacher who had passed away the previous year and loved that color.
As the school year begins, keep an eye out for those newcomers to your school community who may not know or understand your terms, rituals, and norms. Sometimes it’s an explanation of the smallest things that can play the biggest part in helping everyone feel welcome and valued.
This week we rethink levels. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Founder, Choice Literacy
Free for All
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In Little Levels, Big Thinking, Katie DiCesare moves beyond levels to consider her first-grade readers’ needs:
Lisa Koch shares a parent’s perspective of the damage too much emphasis on reading levels in the classroom does to her young son:
Millie Davis asks, “What’s your Lexile score?” to tackle some of the problems with fixating on levels:
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Stephanie Affinito tells everyone at a staff meeting to write their weights and ages on sticky notes so that she can post the numbers for the group to view. When teachers balk at the request, she has the perfect opening to discuss why focusing on levels in classrooms is a bad idea:
“We don’t have enough leveled texts!” is the cry from teachers. Heather Fisher helps them move beyond the school book room to more creative online resources to meet students’ needs, and move beyond narrow definitions of text suitability:
Shari Frost assists a teacher who is instructing a child stuck at level E, and in the process reveals some of the issues in treating all levels equally:
In this week’s video, Katrina Edwards helps a first grader use pictures to help her make sense of confusing text:
New PD2Go: Gail Boushey and Joan Moser (“The Sisters“) discuss how their thinking has evolved beyond levels when it comes to organizing flexible groups. The video excerpt shows Joan working with a group of kindergartners:
This video excerpt and workshop guide fulfill Common Core State Standard ELA-Literacy.RF.K.1: Demonstrate understanding of the organization and basic features of print.
That’s all for this week!