To change ourselves effectively, we first had to change our perceptions.
A budding third-grade scientist was required to record the status of trying to light a light bulb. Here’s what he and his partner recorded:
Status: Can’t get it to work . . .
Status: Still can’t get it to work yet.
Status: Still trying to get it to work.
Status: This stinks.
Status: It just did a spark.
Status: This stinks.
Status: We did it! Yay!
Special thanks to Choice Literacy contributor Michelle Kelly and her colleague Alicia for this gift in my inbox.
The young scientists’ status report is an accurate paraphrase of my own coaching, parenting, or teaching notes. In the second observation, I love how the word “yet” is included and then it’s dropped after that point. By the fourth status report, things have started stinking and despair that they’ll never succeed sets in. Then there’s a spark! Ah, but the spark dies quickly and it seems that all is forlorn. Of course, that’s when the bulb lights up. Yay!
Reframing despair as a “positive sign” instead of the “shape of things to come” is not only comforting, but true. When I’m working with teachers I’ve learned to say “Good!” when they wail, “I can’t do this anymore!” Then I follow up with, “If you’ve made it to this place of despair, you are already on your way out and you just don’t know it yet.” Each time they’ve looked at me like I was a little crazy, but I subscribe to musical artist Seal’s belief that “We’re never gonna survive unless we are a little crazy.” When my crazy statement becomes sane reality over the course of weeks or months I hear back from them, “You know what? That was my breaking point. I had to get to despair so I could be here.” And so another light ignites.
This week we look at vocabulary instruction. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Contributor, Choice Literacy
Heather Rader is an instructional coach in Washington State. Her Choice Literacy publications include the book Side by Side: Short Takes on Best Practice for Teachers & Literacy Leaders and the DVD On the Same Page. You can find her Coach to Coach blog at www.heatherrader.com.
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Here are two features from the archives on vocabulary instruction.
Katie Doherty describes how she implemented a student-selected vocabulary program in her middle school classroom:
Andrea Smith uses the Living Words activity to integrate word study, technology, and content literacy with her fourth graders:
In a new podcast, Katie DiCesare talks about the word study program in her first-grade classroom:
Pernille Ripp shares some lessons from her favorite mentors:
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In this week’s video, Sean Moore teaches second grader Mikhail some strategies for learning words in a conference:
Andrea Smith leads a whole-class discussion of recording new content vocabulary in reading notebooks in this week’s bonus video:
New PD2Go: Mandy Robek prepares students for adding to the word wall in kindergarten:
This video and workshop guide fulfills Common Core State Standard ELA-Literacy RF.K.3c: Read common high-frequency words by sight (e.g., the, of, to, you, she, my, is, are, do, does).
If you’re interested in more videos and feature articles on Word Study and Vocabulary, there are dozens available at this link:
That’s all for this week!