There is another alphabet, whispering from every leaf, singing from every river, shimmering from every sky.
On a cool morning in late April, my students and I sat crisscrossed on the carpet, looking up at our whiteboard noticing the first few pages of The Empty Lot by Jim Armonsky. We zoomed in and out of the printed text online using the Amazon preview page.
We were reading the first few pages in anticipation of a visitor from our county’s soil and water conservation service who would be walking us through an interactive retelling of this story about caring for the earth. As we thought about these pages, I clicked slowly screen by screen. When the first page of text was projected on the board, I felt a little tug and whisper in my ear from Jin. “Where pictures, Mrs. DiCesare?” he said. I assured him right away that the next page would have pictures, knowing the other side of the two-page spread was a click away.
But his whisper had me thinking…. I hadn’t remembered that this online preview would not always include pictures and text together. This was difficult reading for Jin and many of the other students in my room. My first-grade students use illustrations or photographs with text to support their comprehension. They rely on visuals to support conversations we have when talking and thinking together about texts. Many of my students are not only thinking about stories, but learning a new language at the same time.
Jin’s whisper reminds me to pay attention. How many times do my students ask a question quietly that has me wondering what I might do to help clarify or simplify my teaching? Their whispers help me plan or adjust for their needs. Whether they are literally whispering like Jin, sharing thinking during group conversation, or talking one-on-one, I need to lean in and listen more carefully. These times when students are hesitant are often when they are saying what is most important and difficult. The quiet moments are the ones where I can learn the most about how to meet my students’ needs.
This week we conclude our series on student self-assessment. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Contributor, Choice Literacy
Katie DiCesare has worked as an educator for over 20 years in a number of roles, and currently teaches first grade.
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Melanie Meehan recommends linking goal setting to small celebrations as a great way to build community and reflective skills at the same time:
Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan are using reading notebook covers in ingenious ways — to help students reflect on their reading and set goals:
Dana Murphy explains how reflection is a powerful component of developing student writing portfolios:
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Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share the process of helping students set weekly goals and then reflect on their progress every Friday:
Mark Levine uses the Daily Record to encourage reflection throughout each day’s workshop in his social studies classroom:
Carly Ullmer transfers a messy goal-setting protocol to her seventh graders, and in the process finds they take on more accountability for individual success:
In this week’s quick-take video, Gigi McAllister gives a brief explanation of how her thinking on goal setting has changed, as well as the ways she uses student goals to connect with parents:
In an encore video, Leslie Lloyd begins an anchor lesson by setting a goal with her third graders:
That’s all for this week!