Creative play is like a spring that bubbles up from deep within.
One day, Ava asked for an extra copy of a news magazine that I was going to put in the recycling bin in our classroom.
“I play school,” she confessed.
Because I know that children make sense of the world through play, I couldn’t resist asking, “Really? What do you do when you play school?”
I am always a bit hesitant when I ask students who play school what they actually do because I know their play will tell me a lot about the subtle messages they are getting from being in our classroom.
“Well, you know,” Ava said. “I have an easel and that big paper you have on it. I also have a dry erase board that I can connect to my computer and use it like our Smartboard. I pull things up on my computer when I am teaching things. Like last week, we used Pixie to create something. I call over groups like you do I ask them if they like what they are reading and what they are thinking.
I breathed a sigh of relief that Ava’s students did not have to sit through testing or that the important things about her school weren’t or announcements or grading papers. Instead she talked about the talk and the joy and learning that goes on in her classroom.
Ava continued, “When my friends come over I make them be principal or something – I don’t really care what they are as long as I get to be the teacher. ”You know I want to be a teacher when I grow up. Do you know why I think I’ll make a good teacher?”
I was worried about this next answer. I knew it would tell me a lot about her beliefs about my role in her learning.
She said, “I love kids and being with them and talking to them. I love to learn and I like to read. A lot. And, well, teachers get some extra days off.”
I breathed another sigh of relief and asked, “Do your students learn?”
Ava looked at me with amusement and said, “Mrs Sibberson, I play with my American Girl Dolls. They are pretend.”
I always learn so much listening to my students who “play school” at home.These conversations let me step back and see our classroom as our students see it. I have been carrying my conversation Ava with me as I think ahead to next school year. What subtle messages will I give them about what it means to be a learner in a classroom in a school? When my new students go home and play school, what will they do? What will they think is important? What will they think makes a good teacher?
This week we look at reflection and goal setting early in the year. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Contributor, Choice Literacy
Franki Sibberson has worked for over 20 years as a teacher at different grade levels and school librarian. Franki is the co-author with Karen Szymusiak of many books and videos on teaching reading in the intermediate grades. You can keep up with Franki on the popular blog she writes with Mary Lee Hahn, A Year of Reading.
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Are you more of a Pollyanna or an Eeyore reflector? Heather Rader takes you inside the questions that help us reflect deeply on instructional practices:
“Be Sure To” is a quick video example of a reflection and goal-setting strategy to use with students from The Teaching Channel:
The Power of Choice by Cynthia Lord at the Nerdy Book Club is an eloquent explanation of why letting students choose their own books matters so much:
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What information is gathered by a teacher sitting in a rocking chair quietly watching her students? Christy Rush-Levine discover it is plenty in Data That Matters:
Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan are Using Reading Notebook Covers for Reflection and Goal Setting in ingenious ways:
In this week’s video, Ruth Ayres helps a fourth grader reflect on whether she is finished with her personal narrative, and how Ruth might assist her:
Megan Skogstad shares advice for Getting Started with Digital Portfolios with students:
In an encore video, Franki Sibberson has students complete Reflection Sheets to foster more independence and goal setting:
That’s all for this week!