Play is the beginning of knowledge.
Every outdoor recess of my entire fifth-grade year, I played kickball. I was not particularly good at kickball, and looking back, I’m not sure why I played in the first place, let alone why I kept playing. My friends did not play kickball. They did not jump rope anymore, either. That’s what I would have liked to do – jump rope. I guess that’s how I ended up on the kickball field. Fifth graders didn’t jump rope.
During first recess we always chose teams, in the classic schoolyard manner. Chad was the captain of the Good Team, and Kevin was the captain of the other team. I’m not sure why we went through the daily ritual of team selection. The teams never changed. I was always on the Good Team, but I shouldn’t have been.
Chad picked me, and he picked me early in the selection. I’m not sure why he wasted an early pick on me. I would have been available in the last round. Chad always looked out for me, though. Our moms were friends, and we grew up together. We wouldn’t end up in the same circle of friends, but he kept looking out for me until we graduated and went on with life.
Chad played first base and it was my job to back him up. I played behind him and was there to try to scoop anything that got past him. If the ball took a funny bounce and he played it wrong, I was there to stop it. If our team overthrew first base, I was there to stop the ball. I was the worst fielder on the field, but Chad and I made a lot of outs.
On offense, I was a guaranteed out. One day, Chad pulled me aside after we made our third out and we were heading to kick. He whispered, so the other team wouldn’t hear. “Here’s the deal: stop trying to kick it hard. They catch it every time. You need to kick it on the ground, toward third base. They won’t be able to get you out. You don’t need to kick it hard, but you need to run as fast as you can.”
Chad gave me a high five and headed to the fourth spot in the lineup. It was likely he would get a “grand kick” – a home run with bases loaded. I went to the end of the line. I always kicked last. When it was my turn, I followed Chad’s directions and ended up on first base. The Good Team cheered, and Chad’s voice boomed louder than the rest. “I knew you could do it!”
Looking back, I kept playing because Chad positioned me to be successful. I was a terrible fielder, but an excellent backer-upper. I was a lousy kicker, but could keep the ball on the ground, toward the slow side of the field, and run fast. Chad was a very good captain. I wasn’t the only person he whispered plans to. He placed people according to their strengths, and together the whole team became stronger.
This is the secret to success – people work best from their strengths. What are your strengths in literacy instruction and how can you use them more often?
This week we look at possibilities for refreshing the routines in your literacy workshops. Plus more as always — enjoy!
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Mandy Robek compiles a list of her favorite books for brain breaks with young learners:
Ruth Ayres shares a simple protocol for coaches to use with teachers when they are thinking through changes to routines in their classrooms:
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What happens when you establish a routine early in the year, only to discover students aren’t using it a few months later? Shari Frost mentors a teacher who is helping his young students improve their book selection skills:
Tara Smith finds her sixth graders have years of experience with writer’s notebooks by the time they reach her classroom. How to inspire enthusiasm for a familiar tool? Mix old favorite tasks and lessons with fresh texts and tech-savvy options:
In Company-Ready Teaching, Mary Lee Hahn prepares for classroom visitors. The process of viewing her room with fresh eyes makes her question routines and wall displays:
In this week’s video, Katherine Sokolowski refreshes the quick-write routine in her fifth-grade classroom by using a video as a prompt:
That’s all for this week!