First we eat, then we do everything else.
M. F. K. Fisher
I enjoy my cooking adventures: selecting recipes, buying ingredients, and following recipes step-by-step to create meals for my family and friends. Though I’ve cooked and baked for years with some degree of success, I can’t really consider myself a true “cook.” I am far too dependent on the master chefs who create recipes I tend to slavishly follow. I admire those cooks I know who are intuitive cooks—who know food and cooking strategies, palates and combinations, and who seem to view cooking as a huge and fun puzzle, piecing together techniques with different ingredients.
On my quest to become the kind of confident cook I admire, I discovered a mentor: Julia Turshen, who promised to help me master one delicious thing at a time, taking pleasure in each small victory. Her encouraging book is aptly named Small Victories: Recipes, Advice, and Hundreds of Ideas for Home-Cooking Triumphs. Her strategy is to help everyone celebrate small achievements on their way to becoming comfortable, intuitive, and inventive cooks.
What I love about this approach is that she shares a very basic recipe; completing it is your “small victory.” Every recipe is then accompanied by a series of spin-offs or “thoughts on how to turn that small victory into many other things besides that main recipe.” Like every good teacher, Julie Turshen helps her cooks begin with what they know. “If you can make spaghetti,” she reminds us, “you can also make rice, quinoa, or soba noodles . . . If you can whisk together oil and vinegar, you can dress not only a salad, but also that grilled something, or roasted whatever.”
Soup turned out to be my first small victory. Once I made a basic bowl of soup, I was able to make a bowl of Anything Soup, Anytime: Hearty Vegetable and Rice Soup, Mushroom and Barley Soup, or Asian Soup with Vegetables and Shrimp.
As I’ve been reflecting on my many small victories in the kitchen, my thoughts have turned to the classroom. What about explorations there that can help teachers celebrate achievements and build on them to become comfortable, intuitive, and inventive teachers? What if I extended and adapted these small victories over a range of possibilities? If I’m comfortable with circulating for writing conferences with students, for example, why not build on what I know? If I can listen to my students, tell them what I hear, ask a question, and leave them knowing what to do next in their writing, I can have Anything Conferences with Students, Anytime—in math, or science, or even when planning larger thematic projects. The possibilities are nearly endless.
We can teach our students to build on their small victories as well. If they can self-edit and evaluate their written drafts, they can Self-Edit and Evaluate Anything Anytime as new ideas and curricula enter the classroom.
I hope to continue to consciously whisk together familiar ingredients in new ways, and share not only my new cooking, but ideally, some innovative classroom celebrations as well.
This week we look at ways to reach the quietest learners in our classrooms. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Contributor, Choice Literacy
Ruth Shagoury is a professor emeritus at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. She blogs with her daughter Meghan Rose about children’s books at www.litforkids.com.
Free for All
[For sneak peeks at our upcoming features, quotes and extra links, follow Choice Literacy on Twitter: @ChoiceLiteracy or Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ChoiceLiteracy or Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/choiceliteracy/]
Kim Campbell has suggestions for ways teachers can help introverts have more say in literacy workshops:
Courtney Pawol looks at how being an introvert affects her role in learning communities, and then moves from insight to practical changes to help the introverts in her first-grade classroom:
For Members Only
Katherine Sokolowski was that shy child hiding behind a tall classmate in the back of the room when she was a student. As a teacher, she makes sure there are many ways she helps bring out the voices of introverts in her fifth-grade classroom:
What many school leaders, teachers, and students have in common is that they are introverts. Matt Renwick remembers exhaustion from his first year of teaching because of introversion, and offers suggestions for meeting the needs of introverts in any school community:
In honor of National Women’s History Month, Sarah Klim presents a booklist that features biographies of some of the lesser-known women who quietly made history, as well as little-known details from the lives of well-known historical figures:
In this week’s video, Gigi McAllister helps a group of fourth graders evaluate questions for fostering good group discussions:
In an encore video, Ruth Ayres meets with Zoey, a quiet writer who is drawn into the conversation through family stories and a mentor text with vivid illustrations:
That’s all for this week!