Time is the longest distance between two places.
I recently had the good fortune of becoming a second-time mom. When other parents ask me how things are going, I tell them that the newborn is our best sleeper; my two-year-old, I say diplomatically, is “making progress.”
My little girl has recently discovered her nighttime independence. Each evening, as my newborn son settles calmly into a nine-hour overnight slumber, my husband and I brace for a two-hour bedtime war with big sister.
Being a nerd, as we teachers tend to be, I’ve thrown myself into seeking expert advice. I huddle over my Kindle as I park myself outside the toddler’s room, bookmarking every time I have to pause to march my angry little tot back to her bed.
After the first two challenging nights, I set up what the experts told me would be ideal sleeping conditions:
Darkened windows (Frantic trip to the store for black cardboard: check!)
Lavender (My grocery cart looked a little odd that day)
Physical play a few hours earlier
Books before bedtime
And here we are, two weeks later. My husband is on duty for tonight’s fireworks. The spitfire continues to fight us every night, finally sacking out only after she’s exhausted herself. Even filling her with carbs for dinner (okay, I’m ridiculous) hasn’t done the trick. Although I’m exhausted, I’m actually more at peace than I was when these changes started. Why? I’ve thought more about who my child is. For months, my child talked to herself in her crib for two hours before drifting to sleep. The only difference now is that she has the physical ability to spend those two hours doing more fun things. Of course she’s going to struggle with our expectations.
My daughter just needs time. In my hours of time to think during the “back to bed march,” I recognize the connections with my students. I know that my daughter CAN sleep, just like I know every child CAN be a reader. By the time they get to my sixth-grade classroom, some students have had years to develop a distaste for reading. I can provide all of the elements of a rich literacy environment — time to read, fabulous recommendations, choice, a great classroom library, a reading community — and at the end of the year, some of my students still aren’t “there.” Yet.
Just as it can be a bit defeating to hear other parents’ magic sleeping bullets, it can be a bit defeating to read about classrooms in which every student seems to be embracing reading. My late night bedtime battles have given me time to recognize that I need to be gentle with my readers and with myself. I will continue to offer all of the support and inspiration I can, and I’ll remind myself of the same thing I know to be true of my beloved daughter: sometimes, it just takes time.
This week we’re featuring resources to help you plan for word study with next year’s students. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Contributor, Choice Literacy
Gretchen Taylor is a sixth-grade teacher in Dublin, Ohio. She blogs at http://gretchenetaylor.blogspot.com/
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Here are two articles from the Choice Literacy archives to help you think through how to assess word learning.
In Assessing Spelling in Writing Workshops, Katie DiCesare shares an assessment template she developed to keep track of the word learning of her first graders:
Franki Sibberson finds a sentence study routine is an important component of her word work with intermediate students:
We’ve started a new Pinterest board on great children’s literature for word study with a focus on grammar and mechanics:
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What words are worthy of study? Amanda Adrian and Heather Rader explore that issue with colleagues in Word Nerds:
Ann Marie Corgill’s classroom design series concludes with ideas for organizing classroom libraries and a self-reflection tool for thinking through your classroom design:
Meghan Rose and Ruth Shagoury finish their summer fun for early readers series with a booklist for boys interested in chapter books:
In this week’s video, Mandy Robek introduces a new word to her kindergartners for their word wall:
The Word Study and Vocabulary section of the website features dozens of videos and print articles:
Editor’s Note: Next week is our annual one-week summer break with no publication of the Big Fresh. The newsletter will be back in production on July 13th.
That’s all for this week!