The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our brain to grow sharper.
William Butler Yeats
When I found out one of my friends was leaving the district for a new leadership opportunity, I was devastated, but the reality is that people need to continue on their personal journeys. Once I was over the original shock, I tried to determine the best way to send her off. How could I thank her for all she had done for me? I knew I would miss her vision, her ability to ask the right question, her wisdom, and the way she added a little sparkle to everything we did. To wish her well, I wanted to find just the right gift for her. She loves words, so I headed out to find a book that would speak to the wishes I had for her in new work. That’s what book people do.
Bookstores aren’t always easy to get to in our area, so I headed to the local department store to see if I might get lucky there. Walking into the store, I was immediately distracted from my mission by the dollar section. What is it that makes this section so entrancing? I suppose the teacher in me is always certain there might be something hidden in this area that would be perfect for the work I do. As I wandered the shelves filled with everything from beach buckets to pineapple spiral notebooks, I was drawn to a row of magic wands dangling from the shelf. I couldn’t help myself: I had to pick one up. The wands were glorious! They came in colors of purple, green, and pink, but best of all — they lit up. Ha! I had to chuckle. What future leader wouldn’t need a magic wand if she couldn’t solve a problem? This wand, marked “for emergency use only,” would provide a good laugh alongside any book I could find. For one dollar it was certainly worth the fun that would accompany it.
As I meandered to the book section, chuckling to myself about the wand, I started to think of what I might do if I had a magic wand. There were certainly some changes I’d like to be able to make. If I had three wishes, what would I do? Hmm, what to do? I decided I might start by making sure that all children had choice in their reading. That seemed a good first wish. I was visualizing classrooms in which every single reader chose the books they were reading when I realized they’d need books. No problem. I had two wishes left so I could wave my wand to create classroom libraries with books students would be interested in reading. A wave of the wand and — abracadabra — books for every classroom. These libraries would have up-to-date titles students couldn’t resist. The books would call to them from the shelves.
Two wishes down. With only one wish left, I needed to be selective. What would my final wish be? After some deliberation, I decided we needed real reading communities. I would wave my wand and wish for authentic reading conversations during read-aloud, alongside peers, and with readers beyond our classroom communities. What a world it would be if young readers could talk with their friends about books the way I talk with my friends about books. No more predetermined questions. No more packets. No more required responses. Just authentic interaction with others about books. Oh, the magic of it all.
As I reached the book section of the store spellbound by possibility, I had to smile at the power of a magic wand. Maybe I should go back to the dollar section and pick up a wand for myself. Then I realized that everything I just wished for I could do. Why wasn’t I working to accomplish these very things? As I pondered these changes, I realized I didn’t need a magic wand at all. Instead, I just needed a plan. If these changes were important to me, how was I working to make them?
If you had a magic wand, what three things would you do? How can you get started doing them? Knowing my friend, she’ll laugh about this wand for emergency use, but she’ll never need it. She’s already envisioning the possibility and mapping the path to get there.
This week we look at turning wishes into realities by thinking about what’s essential in our reading and writing workshops. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Contributor, Choice Literacy
Cathy Mere is currently a literacy specialist in Hilliard (Ohio) City Schools. She is the author of More Than Guided Reading. A trained literacy coach and former Reading Recovery teacher, Cathy leads professional development workshops and presents at state and national conferences. She blogs at Refine and Reflect.
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Katie Doherty discovers that the right text at the start of the year is crucial in building the basics of reading and writing stamina, as well as forming a comfortable community of middle school readers:http://www.choiceliteracy.com/articles-detail-view.php?id=1064
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Ruth Ayres explains why writing a manifesto may be the best way to learn what you truly believe about teaching, learning, and literacy:
Gretchen Schroeder winnows many competing demands at the start of the year down to five clear objectives in her high school classroom:
Scott Jones finds working with a student teacher forces him to explain what the “non-negotiables” are in his reading workshop:
In this week’s video, Bitsy Parks confers with first grader Leo early in the school year, reinforcing the basic principle of making connections to text while reading:
Are you taking some time this summer to catch up on previous issues of The Big Fresh you missed? You can view the archives at this link: