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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

I Looked Around My Room

I was on my way to work today thinking about this book I am reading (Conferring With Readers by Jennifer Serravallo) and a poetry class (Teacher Poets with Chris Lehman) I am currently taking. There is a simple structure when talking to kids, conferring with them, pushing them to the next step of learning. It's simple in my poetry class too as we workshop poems: Compliments, Questions, Considerations make up the structure of our conversation. I think I complicate things too much. It's just not easy squeezing all these parts into a 3-5 minute meeting with a student and then expecting that learning to take place after I leave. I looked around today and wondered if I am doing it right. That's not an invitation for you all to throw compliments my way, I mean I really wondered.
I looked around and I saw progress but not the kind of progress that the district, state, heck the nation expects. I looked around and everyone was reading, everyone. We are all in different places. Some are tearing through a chapter book a day, it's crazy how much fun they are having getting sucked into the story. I have other kids starting Mouse Tales and Frog and Toad. They are so excited. I have students setting goals like:  How many Mo Willems books can be read in one day? I also have some students who are still looking at picture books and engaging in shared reading in order to work on comprehension strategies because they are unable to process all the skills needed for reading accurately. (To clarify, they read very simple text that doesn't really have enough going on to make meaning). When I really think about it, I believe it is okay. Don't get me wrong, I want them to succeed, but I don't think that you have to read a level J in first grade to be successful in life either. Some of them will get it in second grade or third. However, the problem is that these teachers have added pressure as well and when kids come in "behind" it is stressful for everyone. How did we end up here? I don't know.
What do I know?
It's simple.
Conversation about books.
It's simple.

I saw this video yesterday on Facebook and I can't help but agree with every word. 


  1. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that it doesn't really matter, they will get it, but that does create stress on everyone next year. How DID we get to this place in education where the data is more important than the child? It's sad. I know you are working hard to build good readers who enjoy reading! That's what matters most in my eyes.

  2. I hope something will change, but I fear it won't. I think you are on the right track. Create a love of reading and writing and students will grow to become successful citizens.

  3. I just love listening to Penny Kittle. She always gives me chills. Your reflection today is very thoughtful. Keep on keeping on!

  4. Thanks for sharing this video - very powerful. I have seen her speak, but I love this clip. I will share it with teachers --to give them the hope you have. Growth within a child is also so important to remember.

  5. Both of my own children were in very different places at the end of first grade, and now they are successful (and avid) readers as adults. They did not have to take tests every year, but they did have wonderful teachers who helped them become learners. I'm sorry that you have to worry about these differences so much. We are not all the same!

  6. I learned this when I was in the 4th grade

    by Edgar A. Guest

    Figure it out for yourself, my lad,
    You've all that the greatest of men have had,
    Two arms, two hands, two legs, two eyes
    And a brain to use if you would be wise.
    With this equipment they all began,
    So start for the top and say, "I can."

    Look them over, the wise and great
    They take their food from a common plate,
    And similar knives and forks they use,
    With similar laces they tie their shoes.
    The world considers them brave and smart,
    But you've all they had when they made their start.

    You can triumph and come to skill,
    You can be great if you only will.
    You're well equipped for what fight you choose,
    You have legs and arms and a brain to use,
    And the man who has risen great deeds to do
    Began his life with no more than you.

    You are the handicap you must face,
    You are the one who must choose your place,
    You must say where you want to go,
    How much you will study the truth to know.
    God has equipped you for life, but He
    Lets you decide what you want to be.

    Courage must come from the soul within,
    The man must furnish the will to win.
    So figure it out for yourself, my lad.
    You were born with all that the great have had,
    With your equipment they all began,
    Get hold of yourself and say: "I can." (many more poems to share upon request)
    William Knapp
    Forest Grove, Ore

  7. I loved this post. Thank you.


Thanks for the comment love!