Nothing can be done except little by little.
Two weeks ago 18 Choice Literacy contributors gathered in Portland, Oregon, for a weekend writing retreat. As part of the retreat, we also took in eight live musicals. Now, you might wonder how we had any time left to write after cramming in all those musicals. It was easy. The musicals were all included in the 4-by-4 = 8 show. Eight musicals were presented one after another, each no longer than 10 minutes, all enacted on a 4-by-4 square stage.
We were treated to a murder mystery with the actors’ British accents rivaling those on Downton Abbey, which ended with six people jammed improbably onto that tiny space in the “drawing room.” The favorite for our group involved a couple in therapy trying to get through a road trip without killing each other. We also enjoyed the enactment of a backstage crew drama from a rock concert, and the angst of two teens caught in a closet during an awkward game of spin the bottle.
Reducing the time and space for any task can expand the possibilities for getting the work done. High school teacher Ellie Gilbert was in our group, and she was immediately inspired to have her students create stories on 4-by-4 inch post-its. “Full stories, beginning, middle, and end — and if it’s horrible, it’s done quickly and easy enough to discard,” she explained.
“I can do almost anything for a minute,” counselor Darla Breckenridge says, and I use those words as a mantra when I don’t feel like getting through an entire exercise routine or editing a lengthy writing draft. What big task are you dreading today? Is there a small chunk you can bite off — just ten minutes of work toward the goal so you can move forward before you set it aside for another day? Can you do one minuscule piece of the project in 60 seconds? We’re always being told we need to think big, but a fun evening out with Choice Literacy writers has got me savoring the power of small things.
This week we share resources for linking music, movement, and literacy, plus more as always. Enjoy!
Founder, Choice Literacy
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Before we get to our regularly scheduled features, we have awful news to share. Earlier this month Crestline Elementary School in Vancouver, Washington was destroyed by a fire. Crestline was the home of Choice Literacy contributors Beth Lawson and Melanie Quinn, and we spent many happy hours over the past three years filming teachers and children at work in this wonderful school. Thankfully no one was harmed in the flames, the school will be rebuilt by late 2014, and the local community has rallied in incredible ways to support those who called Crestline home. But for now the teachers and students have been moved to temporary classroom sites throughout the district, and they have lost everything — every piece of writing in student journals and portfolios, and every single book out of their classroom libraries. Can you imagine losing all your children’s books overnight, and starting over again with your students midyear in an empty classroom in an unfamiliar building? Many of these books were purchased over years with teachers’ personal funds. The staff has collaborated on a wishlist of books at Amazon to rebuild their classroom libraries. Please consider purchasing a book at this link to help these teachers and children. It would mean the world to them. Any notes of support sent with your purchases would also be much appreciated:
Here are two articles from the Choice Literacy archives to help you update your collection of songs for classrooms and professional development.
Heather Rader and Sean Moore describe how they use music for transitions and body breaks, and to build background knowledge:
We asked Choice Literacy contributors to share their favorite songs for use in classrooms and professional development settings and compiled them for you:
Lindsay Lane’s Pinterest Board includes dozens of Classroom Movement Ideas:
If you have one, and only one, iPad in your classroom, how might students use it? Jonathan Wylie compiles helpful suggestions from many teachers, with tips on everything from free apps to creating a set of class rules for handling the device:
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Max Brand explains how movement activities in classrooms with young learners can be much more than a brain break or “getting the wiggles out”: movement can forge potent connections between mind, body, and story. The essay includes two video examples:
Katie DiCesare demonstrates how she uses movement with first graders in this short video bonus:
Karen Terlecky shares the process of launching and sustaining read-aloud notebooks with fifth graders:
As classroom budgets get tighter, teachers rely more and more on school libraries for books. Erin Ocon describes how she has changed the way she matches books and readers in her middle school classroom, depending more on school library resources and helping her middle school students navigate them:
From “Show Me the Lessons” to Sustainable Planning is the final installment in Heather Rader‘s series on argument and opinion writing in the intermediate grades:
That’s all for this week!