All the world is a stage and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances.
A teacher once said to me, “A good teacher knows how to be a good actor.” At the time I didn’t understand what he meant and was a little offended. I wasn’t acting; I was genuinely connecting with kids. As my years as a teacher added up, I began to see the crucial role we play as thespians. When third grader Sidney took the top off the blender and Valentine smoothies shot all over our classroom, I was not pleased. As if from a scene in a movie I said, “Everybody has accidents. No big deal.” The fortieth time Jess rocked herself so hard she fell over in her chair, I was exasperated, but I said not what was in the bubble in my head, but what the script of a patient teacher might say to a child who needed to rock and move to think.
I remember after a particular harried morning getting my own children to school, I introduced the area and perimeter unit to my students first thing in the morning with these words: “I’m excited about the unit we are starting today because it’s going to help us solve a problem with our class carpet.” Was I really excited? No. But what began as forced enthusiasm eventually spread through the room. Thirty minutes later we were all happily problem solving. “Fake it till you make it” worked.
Recently in a Zumba class I wished my instructor was a better actress. She appeared bored and uninterested. While she was fit and coordinated, her grapevines were halfhearted and there was no hip action in her salsa. Almost halfway through the class I realized my movements were as sluggish as hers — my heart rate wasn’t even up! Her lack of passion and oomph was reflected in the forty women watching her in the mirrors. We were there for Zumba, not Slumba.
I believe in being genuine, of bringing forth what is alive in me. Kids are smart and they are drawn to authenticity. But I’ve also come to understand that while teaching I enter and exit the stage to set the tone for learners.
This week we’re featuring resources for improving the reading and writing in your science programs. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Senior Editor, Choice Literacy
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From the archives, Andrea Smith shares The Power of Wonder Questions for getting students involved in writing about science:
Journey North has compiled a handy guide to 40 best practices linking science and writing, with succinct descriptions of the activities and examples:
Scistarter: Science We Can Do Together is a rich resource on the web bringing together “citizen scientists” of all ages. There are projects here for any age and interest, and you can search easily for activities which include teaching materials and are suitable for children:
Anil Ananthaswamy makes a compelling case for the connections between good writing and good science in Writing About Science from the National Writing Project:
The Nonfiction Detectives blog remains our go-to search for great mentor texts for science writing (and nonfiction in general):
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In The Blank Page and Better Teaching, Aimee Buckner learns some important lessons about how images and words work together for student writers when she moves between second- and fifth-grade classrooms:
This week’s video is the first in a two-part series. Sean Moore confers with second grader Isaiah, and prepares him to teach his classmates about what he is learning later in the writing workshop:
Do They Care? is the question Karen Terlecky asks herself as she sets up book clubs in her fifth-grade classroom with a focus on empathy:
Maria Caplin explains how she made the shift from spelling to word study in the intermediate grades:
Katherine Sokolowski explores the challenges and joys of coteaching with special education colleagues:
New PD2Go: Tammy Mulligan works with two second-grade boys help them select appropriate books for independent reading and set goals. The workshop included with the video focuses on helping teacher expand their definition of “just right” books:
Calling All Literacy Coaches — we’re developing a new website just for you. Take our survey and help us create more content tailored to your needs:
That’s all for this week!