You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.
John C. Maxwell
I’m down to only one game app on my phone these days. I play Solitaire, and I have it set to “winning deal,” which means that every hand I’m dealt is guaranteed to have a solution.
I’ve had many conversations with myself about what it means to choose “winning deal.” On the occasions when I’m feeling critical, I berate myself for taking the easy way out instead of embracing challenge.
The story I most often like to tell myself, however, is that choosing “winning deal” represents my core vision of optimism: I believe that life is a “winning deal.”
I believe that every child in my class will succeed in some way, shape, or form.
And I don’t believe that “winning deal” is necessarily the easy way out with no challenge, or the “rose-colored glasses” view of life. With an outlook of “winning deal,” the challenges are simply defined differently. Instead of the typical goal of trying to win at Solitaire, I try to win in the quickest, most efficient way possible. Since I believe that every child will succeed, my challenge is to get each one there on the most efficient, lasting path possible.
For the fifth-grade boy who comes into my classroom with a defiant belief in himself as a nonreader, my challenge is to guide him along a reading path that starts with the easiest graphic novels in my class library and steps gently and gradually up to books with more and more text that is increasingly complex.
For the Iraqi girl whose family has been in this country for exactly five days when she enters my classroom, my challenge is to start with the universal language of a smile, and the most basic English labels necessary for her to navigate the world of our classroom and school.
My record time in “winning deal” Solitaire is less than three minutes. Because I know I can finish a game in under five minutes, I allow myself to take a break now and then to play a game . . . and to remind myself what I believe about the way the world works.
This week, we’re focusing on better communication with parents. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Mary Lee Hahn
Contributor, Choice Literacy
Mary Lee Hahn has been teaching 4th or 5th graders for more than 20 years. She is the author of Reconsidering Read-Aloud(Stenhouse Publishers). Mary Lee and her colleague in the Dublin City Schools, Franki Sibberson, blog about their reading lives at A Year of Reading.
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It’s parent conference season in many schools. Here are two resources from the Choice Literacy archives to help foster better communication with families.
Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan have suggestions for Communicating with Parents About Text Difficulty:
Andrea Smith and her fourth-grade students are Refining the Weekly Class Newsletter to build writing skills, collaboration, and the home/school connection:
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Katherine Sokolowski has tips for improving parent conferences by using technology for flexible scheduling and easy follow-up:
Shark vs. Train Fork vs. Spoon! Versus stories are incredibly popular in writing workshops these days. Cathy Mere found herself struggling to teach narrative conventions to students writing versus tales, so she created a booklist of mentor texts:
In this week’s video, Deb Gaby gives a brief minilesson using an analogy of animal tracks to help second graders understand the links between thinking and reading:
We’ve posted a new cluster on shared reading from primary through middle school, with contributions from Katie DiCesare, Shari Frost, Katherine Sokolowski, and Gretchen Taylor:
If you’re looking for more resources on communicating with parents, there are dozens available at the Family Relations link:
That’s all for this week!