#TeachersWrite Experience

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I am loving my experience with #TeachersWrite so far. After my first week, I actually have a piece of writing. Yay! I know if I want to be a better writing teacher, I need to write. The #TeachersWrite blog is just I need for guidance to overcome the fear I’ve always had about writing. If you are interested in checking it out, click here. It links to author Kate Messner and her blog. (By the way, if you have not read THE SEVENTH WISH, by Kate Messner, you must.)

Now, for the brave, getting over the fear, part of this process. My work in progress is below. Feel free to comment and share what works for you, what does not, and any suggestions for improvement.

 

He just does not understand! I do not want a dog, I need a dog. When I am terrified after waking up from a nightmare, a dog will be there to comfort me. When grief takes over my body like a disease, a dog will love me.

“Dad, I will pay the adoption fee, pick up the poop, feed him. I swear I will!”

“Rrr,” Dad grunted, shutting the office door behind him.

Defeat washed over me like a wave. I’m drowning. I slowly trudge up the stairs and plop down on my bed.

“Rrr,” I grunt.

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Students’ Top 10 Books for Fifth Grade

I am excited to share our class’s top ten list of MUST HAVE books for a fifth grade classroom library. All of our read alouds made this list. Here are the most loved books in our classroom in order of popularity!

  1. The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart 
  2. The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth  
  3. because of mr. terupt by Bob Buyea    
  4. Blood on the River by Elisa Carbone
  5. The I Survived Series by Lauren Tarahis
  6. Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz
  7. Smile, Sisters, and Drama by Raina  Telgemeier
  8. The Bone Series by Jeff Smith
  9. The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer Holm  
  10. City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

All Things Smart-Insight from my Students

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Image from kizoomlabs.com

After participating in another Twitter chat on Saturday, #satchatwc, I knew I had to survey my students again. This time I gathered their thoughts on the word smart. Most of the educators participating in the chat believed there are many forms and definitions of the word smart. All of us have a talent/gift to contribute. All of us can be smart. But I wondered, does it really matter how we, adults, view smart, if the message is not getting across to our students? Here is what my fifth grade students had to say.

What do you think the word smart means?

“Someone who knows a lot of things.”

“You are good at all subjects. Intelligent.”

“Make wise decisions.”

“You get everything in Math, Reading, everything!”

What do you think makes a person smart?

“Learning, research, and also reading.”

“Practice. Lots of training the brain.”

“They know lots of things.”

“Learning.”

“Trying hard. Not giving up. Practice.”

“Mistakes.”

Do you think there are different types of being smart? Explain.

“Yes. There is street-smart and smart-smart.”

“Everyone is smart already in their own personal way.”

“Yes. You can be techy smart or life smart and that means you can manage your money.”

“I do not know really but if there is I did not know.”

Do you see yourself as a smart person? Explain.

“Ummm, no. I really don’t get math and science and stuff and it makes me really mad.”

“I’m in the middle because I don’t always get everything right.”

“No, but I have street smarts.”

“Yes, I know many things. I know a lot of math but especially technology.”

“Yes, I can build.”

Any other comments on the word smart? Thank you for being honest and open with your comments!

“I don’t like the word smart.”

“Why is it called smart?”

“Everybody is smart.”

“Would you consider me smart? Please be honest too. Thank you! (I promise not to cry. I just want to know what you think.)

My Reflection/Take-Away

As I sat down tonight reading over the surveys, I was pleasantly surprised at how many students understood there could be different types of smart. Many spoke of effort and practice to help get “smarter.” One even said mistakes make you smarter! I do not know if this message was gleamed from me, previous teachers, or parents, but I was excited to read their thoughts.

On the other hand, even if students viewed and accepted different types of being smart, some did not view themselves as being smart. They could not identify something they were smart, gifted, or talented in. This troubles me tremendously! I try to notice and recognize the successes in all my students, yet some do not see this in themselves.

I intentionally set those surveys aside. I’m making it my top priority to help those students discover, recognize, their own unique gift(s) they bring to our classroom and the world. If I can do that, I have succeeded as a teacher. Just maybe, I can help foster a life-long learner. A passion for learning. Hoping to plant the seed!

There is a First Time for Everything

I have been thinking, for some time now, to start my own blog. It is a scary, an extremely scary, thought. I always struggled with writing, putting my thoughts into words. It never sounded the way I wanted it to sound. I felt the full message I was trying to get across was not there. Then I thought about mJan29 006y students who struggle everyday with putting their thoughts onto paper. I challenge them and expect them to write in every subject area, including writing their own blog post. But I never challenge myself to be a better writer.

If I am going to be the best teacher for my students, I need to learn right along with them, right? Why not blog and reflect on my teaching? Why not open myself up to criticism, feedback, just like I expect of my students?  When talking about education reform, Grant Wiggins said in his new post today, “Implementation Version 1.0 is LIKELY to fail. We won’t get this right, most likely until Version 3.5. So, let’s fail early and often (as they say at IDEO) and work to get it right as quickly as possible, based on feedback and advice.” I am taking this to heart. I will fail. I will fail early and often. This is how I will become the teacher my students need me to be. I’m all in! Are you?