Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing, and rightdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there.
At the side of my desk sits my little Epson printer. It’s very busy the days that I review the Big Fresh or get a batch of new articles, since I still edit best with pencil on paper. Because I like to conserve, as soon as I print on one side of the paper I try to use the other side too before I recycle. Then I hit an obstacle. Which way am I supposed to insert the paper in the printer? Blank side toward me or away? It should be so easy, with a 50-50 chance of getting it right. Still, I found myself inserting the paper the wrong way half the time.
One day I sat shaking my head and laughing at myself, when it dawned on me to write a label with the words “blank side toward me” and stick it on my printer. Why did the simple solution evade me for so long? I think I was too busy “shoulding” myself: I should remember which way the paper goes. I just did it yesterday. Other people would remember about the paper feed. I should too.
Teachers with whom I work are also “should’ers.” I should’ve known that task would take longer — it always does. I should be able to keep up with responding to these notebooks. Other teachers have been successful with this child in the past so I should too. Sometimes a ‘should’ can prompt us to action — like putting up my “blank side toward me” label, but often they can keep us in a rut. As author and psychologist Marshall Rosenberg encourages, “Avoid ‘shoulding’ on others and yourself.”
Recently a teacher was lamenting her struggles with a particular student. I responded, “Let’s imagine for a moment that you have done everything perfectly up to this point with that child. No woulda, coulda, shoulda. What do you want to do now?” She looked at me with wide eyes and said, “Start over. I’d like to start over with her.” Her insight took our conversation in a whole new direction. As you head into this week and notice yourself or others “shoulding,” consider this question. If there was no wrongdoing and only good intentions, what might you do from this point forward?
This week we’re featuring resources on digital reading and writing in classrooms. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Senior Editor, Choice Literacy
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Here are two features from the Choice Literacy archives to help you rethink digital reading and writing in your classroom.
Andrea Smith finds her classroom library needs a refresh to reflect new resources, opportunities, and challenges with digital reading:
Troy Hicks is a national leader in helping teachers integrate more digital writing tools into their literacy workshops. In this podcast, he talks about how to balance the use of new digital resources with what we know is essential in workshops, regardless of technological changes:
Choice Literacy contributor Maria Caplin provides digital resources to help students read and write like scientists on her blog 21st Century Literacy:
Chad Sansing explains how technological innovations are helping him shift from a writers workshop to a makers workshop in this provocative essay from the National Writing Project:
Happy Birthday Author is a wonderful blog for planning celebrations around authors’ birthdays, with calendars of upcoming birthdays, fun biographical tidbits, and links to books:
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In It’s Not About the Tool, It’s About the Writing, Maria Caplin explains step by step how she integrated the use of iPods into her writing workshop, helping students use them to record notes and create persuasive texts:
Franki Sibberson works with a group of students who want to create a collaborative blog of interviews in this week’s video. The discussion reveals some of the challenges of blog writing, including consistent posting and developing topics that might endure over time:
If you’re looking for a classroom cure for the winter blahs, look no further than next week’s announcement of the American Library Association major book award winners (including the Caldecott and Newbery) on January 28th. Colby Sharp shares how he makes viewing the live announcement a fun event for his students:
We’re launching a new series on teaching argument in the intermediate grades, a hot topic as states adopt the Common Core. I Love a Good Argument from Heather Rader is the first installment:
Max Brand explains why wipe-off boards are such a valuable tool for work with young English language learners in small groups. The article includes a video demonstration:
If you’re looking for more resources for integrating technology into your reading and writing workshops, visit the Technology Archives at the site for dozens of tools and tips:
That’s all for this week!