Friday, October 15, 2010

For as tired as I am...

...I still love conference time. It gives me the chance to sit and talk to parents and really explain all that we do...all that their child does.

I love telling them the "why" and "how" we do things - and how precisely every activity is planned and balanced so that their child is not only getting the requirements of our state standards, but they are surpassing them with RIGOR and application.

It's not enough for me to have kids simply complete work...they have to UNDERSTAND, THINK, and ENJOY. Sometimes it isn't simple...oftentimes it isn't. It is complex.

I liken it to a workout class I take called Total Conditioning. It works every part of your body, muscular and cardiovascular...and it uses compound moves. So if I am doing a tri dip, I am doing a lunge on the Bosu ball at the same time.

We need our kids to be exposed to that. They can, and will, strengthen more. So as my kids are reading, I tell them something to specifically look for, focus on, or try. How is that compound? Well, the time they are reading alone works their fluency, accuracy, and when I add, say, a task to think about the relationships/influence characters have on each other, I have added a layer. Complex thinking. The next level would be WHY - why did that characters actions influence, and how did that impact the story itself?


Do kids shy away and tell me it's too hard to think that way? No. Because I model it first. Our read aloud book is where I show them how to think that way. I talk out loud and tell them what I am thinking and what I expect them to be experiencing. Then I send them to do it with their books.

How can you do that at home? Have a read aloud - either a chapter book or a picture book - and read that for a period of time first. Model what you are thinking, wondering - what you want them to do. Give them a chance to do it too, with that book. Help refine their thinking until they get it. Then give them some time to read their independent book (different from your read aloud) and have them try it. Here's the big part, need to talk AFTER they read and find out whether they could do it with their book.

How can I do it with 20 kids? I have them use notebooks and they write their responses in the Log. That's where I can see it, if I didn't get a chance to get around to talk with them during reading time.

Model, support, set works.

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