The significance of a man is not in what he attains, but rather what he longs to attain.
At the onset of summer, our family decided we were going to watch 40 movies together. Our family moves and shakes; we don’t always spend enough time sitting and stopping so movies are a welcome slow down. One night we created a list that had everything from Regarding Henry (my husband and I hadn’t seen it in years) to Monty Python’s Life of Brian (never had seen it) to Groundhog Day and The Sixth Sense (our teens didn’t understand the references “It’s like Groundhog Day” or “I see dead people”) and more.
Because we were watching movies that weren’t appropriate for young ones, we had to start them after Ahna went to bed. Many fun June and July nights were spent awake at midnight watching old favorites and new treasures. Then August hit. Between my return to work and long weekends away, we didn’t hit our goal. At all. At the time of this writing, we’ve only seen 24 movies. That’s only 60% — hardly proficient.
Forty movies was not a SMART goal. Sure, it was Specific, Measurable and Timely, but it certainly wasn’t Realistic or Attainable given our August plans. However, thanks to our friends who got excited about our “40 movie summer,” we compiled a fabulous list of must-see movies for the fall and winter ahead. A few films in, my daughter got the idea to record a wise line from each movie. For example we captured, “You will always find the answers to your questions in nature.” from the movie Power of One. A collection of Hollywood wisdom was an unexpected outcome from the project.
As I prepare to work with professional learning communities looking at student work with a goal-driven protocol, I’m in a good place to remember all that can be gained by not being proficient. Sixty percent gave our family a lot of information about setting better goals next time. Beyond that, 40 movies was only the number, not the true goal. The goal was to spend time together snuggled on the couch connecting, laughing, crying and remembering the lines that inform our lives. While that’s not quantitative, it’s much more important.
This week is all about how size matters in literacy instruction. We’re featuring an article on putting the “mini” back in minilessons, and another essay on the power of big lists. Plus more as always — enjoy!
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We’re featuring two articles from the archives to help you improve your minilessons with students.
Are your lessons more maxi than mini? Shari Frost has tips for Putting the “Mini” Back in Minilessons:
October is a good time for reflecting on the quality of conversations in classrooms. In Minilessons to Start Conversations with Students About Books, Franki Sibberson shares her best advice for lifting the quality of talk:
Ruth Ayres shares a list of her current thinking on teaching conventions at the Two Writing Teachers blog. It’s an excellent companion to our month-long series on conventions:
Here’s a big list worth pondering. Jeff Anderson discusses Ten Things Every Writer Needs to Know in our latest podcast:
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Teachers are always on the hunt for something new, even as we cherish what works well year after year. Franki Sibberson lists the activities that have stood the test of time in her classroom:
Big lists can be intimidating, especially when our to-do lists are long and never quite finished. Ruth Ayres explains the power of big lists in other contexts, especially writing, and how they might actually provide comfort and security when tackling big projects and ideas:
In this week’s video, Aimee Buckner confers with Brendan, a fourth grader who is rereading Hoot. Aimee helps him with a strategy for holding thinking without disrupting his reading:
Katherine Sokolowski considers the anchor charts that are essential in her fifth-grade classroom:
We’re continuing our month-long series on teaching conventions. Heather Rader works with a team of intermediate teachers as they pore over student work together and analyze which conventions should be taught:
New PD2Go: Katie DiCesare confers with students in her first-grade classroom. This video and workshop guide supports Common Core Standard W.1.5: With guidance and support from adults, focus on a topic, respond to questions and suggestions from peers, and add details to strengthen writing as needed.
That’s all for this week!