Nobody ever drowned in her own sweat.
I remember canning days in the summer when I was a young child. It was a long, hard day of labor for my mom in the sunlit kitchen, with a window box fan no match for the sweltering heat. But oh, the reward by the end of the week — those tomatoes in clear jars, row after row glowing like rubies on the cellar shelves. Enough for a year or more of chili and spaghetti and goulash and beef stew.
Batch work of any kind is intense, but it also has immediate rewards. Adults know it saves time and makes sense sometimes to do a big batch of something, whether it’s putting up this year’s harvest of strawberries or powering through the whole class of student report cards in a couple of evenings. Batch work has a rhythm all its own — the planning and organizing in advance, tackling the easy bits first to get some momentum, and the rush at the end when you’re almost too tired to get the loose ends tied and everything cleaned up.
One of the things that’s easily lost in classrooms is the chance to do a big batch of work together. We have standards that size up learning into discrete chunks that fit neatly into target- of-the-hour slots on whiteboards, and schedules that note with precision what students and teachers will be doing every 10 or 15 minutes of the day. But there are skills that can’t be gained in small, linear steps.
When you ask adults what they remember most from their elementary days, the moments that count often come from a big bodacious project — something outside the norm that required planning, organization, full immersion in creation, and a harvest day with displays of learning and celebration. I hope you have plans this year in your classroom for a big batch of learning from some special event — a field trip, an author visit, or even a recycling unit. Knowing how to organize work within a community for a big project with a clear deadline is a skill students will use for a lifetime.
This week we look at routines and expectations. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Founder, Choice Literacy
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Routines start to fall apart in a classroom when a beloved teacher is replaced with a long-term substitute. Deb Gaby shares how an analogy helps the class get back on track:
Ruth Ayres shares a simple protocol for coaches to use with teachers when they are thinking through changes to routines in their classrooms:
Expedition Mondays launch every week in Andrea Smith’s fourth-grade classroom with a healthy dose of nonfiction:
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In Opening the Year with Optimism, Katrina Edwards shares her plans for presenting children’s literature to help her first-grade students acquire the skills needed for being positive and proactive problem solvers:
Mark Levine uses quick-writes with his middle school students to set the expectation at the start of the week for work together that is independent, thoughtful, and conversational:
In this week’s video, Stella Villalba starts writing workshop with her young English language learners by having everyone share their plans in a community circle:
Leigh Anne Eck works to overcome years of student reliance on a reading incentives and rewards program by fostering reflection and intrinsic motivation with her sixth graders:
In this encore video, Bitsy Parks describes the routines and expectations that are most important for her first-grade readers:
That’s all for this week!