There’s an alternative. There’s always a third way, and it’s not a combination of the other two ways. It’s a different way.
One of my exercise buddies, Denise, was relaying wisdom she’d received from Flint Simonsen. He led a Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports consultation in our district.
She said, “While we might have the desired alternative for a student to ‘do work without complaints,’ there are particular students who may react to an assignment with profanity or aggression. Between ‘no-complaint working’ and the problem behavior of a ‘total blow-out’ there is probably a range of acceptable alternatives, like asking for help or asking for a short break.”
I was instantly drawn to the phrase acceptable alternative and had to stop to write it in my notebook. It reminded me of the line from the 90s movie What About Bob starring Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss when Bob Wiley called out, “Baby steps to four o’clock! Baby steps to four o’clock!” I found myself thinking about it in many contexts over the next weeks. I wanted my middle schooler to offer to clean up more around the house and not wait to be asked, but what was my acceptable alternative? What baby step was going to get her there? The expectations I had of myself leading several groups through professional development were high, but I wanted to enjoy my family too, so what was my “acceptable alternative” to spending all my waking hours planning? What baby step would get the job done?
Whether we are encouraging a student, a colleague, our staff or ourselves to work toward a desired alternative, it’s an important step to stop and consider what’s acceptable along the way.
This week’s features focus on peers helping peers. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Senior Editor, Choice Literacy
Free for All
[For sneak peeks at our upcoming features, quotes and extra links, follow Choice Literacy on Twitter: @ChoiceLiteracy or Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ChoiceLiteracy or Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/choiceliteracy/]
Here are two articles from the Choice Literacy archives with different perspectives on the power of peers helping peers.
In What Will You Do With This Mess?: Helping Students Learn to Collaborate, Andrea Smith finds herself between a rock and a jar of Jolly Ranchers as she assists two students working together who have clashing styles:
Shari Frost finds older readers might benefit as much as their younger partners in buddy reading programs:
Chart Chums is the blog from the same folks who wrote the terrific new book Smarter Charts; Marjorie Martinelli and Kristine Mraz have many fresh suggestions for wall charts that foster better collaboration among peers. The “Glitch-Bummer-Disaster” chart is especially useful for independent problem-solving:
Closing Circle by Dana Januszka and Kristen Vincent is an example of a terrific routine for ending the day with students feeling connected to each other, as well as part of a larger classroom community:
If you’d like to collaborate more with colleagues in other disciplines, you’ll enjoy our latest podcast with Penny Kittle. Franki Sibberson chats with Penny about her literacy work with high school teachers:
For Members Only
Amanda Adrian continues her series on how teachers can scaffold and model peer conferring. In Peer Conferring: The “Try It On” Phase, Amanda uses the fishbowl technique with students. We’ve included a catch-up link to the first installment if you missed it:
Mandy Robek combines interactive writing and formative assessments in her kindergarten classroom:
It’s hard to keep your teaching mojo high when standards are grinding you down. Gretchen Taylor is inspired by watching an aerial performer in Teachers’ Night Out: Reclaiming Our Fearlessness:
This week’s bonus video is the first installment in a new series. Sean Moore demonstrates how he naturally enlists student readers and writers as models for their peers. The focus of the second grade literacy block is on details and descriptive language. Sean begins with an excerpt from the classic Charlotte’s Web as a mentor text:
We have dozens of additional resources for collaboration among kids and colleagues in the Building Community section of the site:
That’s all for this week!