The greatest thing about music is putting it out there for people to figure out. You want the listener to find the song on their own. If you give too much away, it takes away from the imagination.
In the classroom, I was good at echoing questions.
Student: What are we doing?
Me: Cameron, What are you doing?
Student: Where do I put my writing when I’m done?
Me: Where do you put your writing when you are done?
My students quickly learned that they needed another strategy besides asking Mrs. Rader to answer their questions. They needed to think for themselves, use their powers of observation or ask a peer.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately in relationship to working with adults. When a teacher asks, “Which books do you think have strong characters?” I could respond, “Which books do you think have strong characters?”
But I’m not that teacher’s teacher and I don’t want to be cheeky. I have to suss out why he or she is asking. Is it because they are thinking deeply about so many things and they just want to hear another teacher’s ideas? Is it because they have an idea already but want to test against what a fellow educator would say? Is it because they are familiar with curriculum guides that tell them which resources to use? Many times I don’t know.
Lately I’ve resorted to acting in line with “give one to get one” which is a professional development activity where you give a question or a definition on an index card and a colleague gives you one in return. With the scenario above in mind it might sound like this:
Teacher: Which books do you think have strong characters?
Me: I’ve enjoyed using Anastasia Krupnik by Lois Lowry because she’s a very unique, complex character that many kids relate to. What is one of your favorite books with strong characters?
This response keeps me from giving too much and denying teachers the opportunity to do their own trusting, thinking and imagining. My ultimate goal is to have them walk away and say, “I did it.”
This week we’re featuring resources for writing and sharing opinions. Plus more as always — enjoy!
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It’s election week in the United States, which means nearly half the population will be seriously unhappy on Wednesday morning when the results are in. In the lemons to lemonade department, disagreements are also opportunities for teaching students how to express alternative points of view.
The Common Core has many teachers and literacy coaches pondering how to teach students to write in ways that mix fact and emotion. In this essay from the archives, Jennifer Burton looks at the difference between Argumentative, Opinion, and Persuasive Writing in the Common Core with her colleagues, and tries out some lessons with students:
Ruth Shagoury explains how the Opinion Exchange can be used in teacher study groups to explore differences in beliefs and expectations:
Even very young students can be taught how to discuss differences respectfully. Teaching Students to Disagree includes some discussion stems and examples to get you started:
What would you do if you were teaching a college writing course for first-year students and a white supremacist showed up? Sarah Rider describes the experience eloquently in this classic award-winning article from the National Writing Project:
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In Peer Conferring: The Modeling Phase, Amanda Adrian provides a framework, sample model lesson, and peer conferring guide for students to use as they learn how to respond to their classmates:
It’s a dilemma many middle school teachers face. How do you construct anchor charts with multiple groups of students, when only one chart will be hung in the room? In Creating Anchor Charts with Multiple Classes, Katherine Sokolowski explains how she ensures all classes have input and a “clean slate” in constructing charts:
In this week’s video, Sean Moore confers with a second grader who is writing about friendship, creating a text that melds information with personal narrative:
We can’t forget the importance of being kind to ourselves. Ruth Ayres explains how small pleasures add up to big delight in Nourishment: Making Time and Space for Little Joys:
We’re concluding our month-long series on teaching conventions. Heather Rader finishes her work with a team of intermediate teachers:
New PD2Go: Clare Landrigan helps a small group of fifth graders learning strategies for building reading stamina in Staying Focused in Literacy Workshops. The video and workshop guide are linked to Common Core Standard RL.5.10: By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poetry, at the high end of the grades 4-5 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
That’s all for this week!