Make learning exciting
Provide dynamic, thought-provoking lessons
Create life long learners and leaders
Guides and Mentors
A cinquain is a diamond shaped five line poem, and many examples can be found on line. Using a lot of “poetic license” I wrote the above verse about how I view teachers.
I spent a lot of time today thinking about what I want my blog to accomplish. Accuracy of information with respect to what is going on in our schools would be one thing. Almost everyone has opinions on the subject, but not a lot are factual. Helping to make our educational system better is another. But what can one person do? Classroom volunteers are indispensable in our schools. I decided that I am going to call myself an “internet volunteer” by helping with ideas in the classroom, and creating a forum for honest debate by people who want to improve the system, not just bash it. We can call it a “teacher pulpit.”
To start with, let's talk about books you can hold in your hand. I think book learning should never be replaced by on-line learning in the classroom in the same way I think a calculator should never take the place of mental math. Here's why:
1. Almost every classroom schedule has a “read aloud” time, often just after lunch recess, as children settle down and refocus. A teacher chooses a favorite chapter book which is read serially and daily. It can be an old classic like Moby Dick or the latest Harry Potter, but whatever the choice, it is a delicious time for all as the words float through the room and into young minds awaiting new growth. Often the teacher will stop and ask some searching questions which serve to increase the learning as well as making sure everyone is still awake. If the teacher reads with expression so much the better. Best of all is the teacher who has a dramatic flair, and dresses up in costume on occasion during the delivery.
2. Then there is DEARs (Drop everything and read) or SSR (sustained silent reading) where children choose a book and sit reading quietly. Even the youngest children can benefit by this time by looking at picture books and thinking about the words.
3. A good use of time for children who finish assignments early is to have a book on hand or to get one from the class library and read while everyone else finishes, so they can all go on to the next lesson.
4. For me, kicking off a new lesson with a relevant book is key to capturing the children’s interest and insuring the lesson’s success. I usually choose two books – one fiction and one non-fiction- so that there is a constant reminder of the differences. Let’s say I am starting a unit on bears and want the children to know as much as possible about the subject. I’ll take a simple example for very young children - Goldilocks and the Three Bears for fiction and Baby Bear by Aubrey Lang for non fiction. Understanding that children learn differently, and believing in Dr. Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, I would set up seven stations for extending knowledge of bears over several days. For those of you who don’t know what is meant by multiple intelligences, simply put, it means that we have seven kinds of intelligence we use for assimilating new information. In the past we were told there were three learning styles – linguistic, auditory and kinesthetic Dr. Gardner refined the ways we learn to include the following:
Visual-Spatial - thinking in pictures
Logical-Mathematical – conceptual learning, especially logically and numerically
Verbal-Linguistic – thinking in words – listening – speaking
Bodily-Kinesthetic – learning through movement
Musical-rhythmic – learning through sounds, rhythms and patterns
Interpersonal – relating to others
Intrapersonal – self reflecting
To maximize the learning for all children I would set up literacy centers that might include an art project relating to bears, an engaging math activity, possibly in comparing small, medium, large, an audio center for listening to the stories/music, a drama corner for re-enacting the story, etc.
As time goes by I plan to share lesson plans on many topics using all of the intelligences. It is an amazing and engaging way for children to learn, and believe it or not, it can be easily assessed!
I said I would review a book a week for anyone interested in extracting and extending lessons from all the wonderful books now available. I bought five special ones at Barnes and Noble today and Punctuation Celebration by Elsa Knight Bruno is the first on my list for review.
Using truly funny and kid-friendly poems, the author writes about periods, question marks, exclamation points, commas, apostrophes, quotation marks, colons, semicolons, parentheses, ellipses, dashes, and hyphens. To teach quotation marks there is a mother yelling at her child to “Clean this messy room!”. Micky, who made a mighty mess by “spilling paint on Della’s dress (Now it’s being washed and pressed), will teach us about apostrophes. My favorite was the ellipses. “Ellipses points. . . three tiny dots . . are perfect for those silent spots. Their use, dear reader, is permitted when certain phrases are omitted.” The illustrations by Jenny Whitehead are filled with whimsical detail that will provide hours of fun for the reader. What a great book for teaching punctuation! We use star ratings for hotels and movies, with 5 stars being the highest. This is definitely a 5-star book for teachers and kids. I’d love to hear if you agree.
That’s it for today. More from my pulpit as I learn more about blogging.