Sunday, July 31, 2011

Harry Potter

Matt has been reading the Harry Potter series for the second time, the twins for the first. I read up to Year 5 (my boys laugh at me because I stopped) when they came out years ago, but have long forgotten the details.  Once they finish a book, they get to see the movie.

A few reasons I am blogging on it.

1. Movies can motivate them to read
2. Movies can be the vehicle to begin conversations about the differences between books and movies, the images they had reading vs. the images on the screen
3. Kids love what's "in" and will give it a chance
4. Series like these can encourage reading with others and recommending reading to others

It also makes me think. Harry Potter (and much fantasy, for that matter) is not my favorite thing to read. I much prefer realistic fiction. But the craze popping up again in the past few years has got me wondering whether I should pick up the series again and give it another shot.

Readers need to realize that not all material others like will be their thing. It also may be something they like, but not right now.

Now my dilemma is to find time to read them!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

What's the Latest Adventure?

Three teachers, 72 kids...multiage, multiyear, project based learning. Yep! That's what I signed up for - and I AM EXCITED! Each teacher will be assigned a homeroom of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders and we will keep the kids through their fourth grade year. In addition, will will be assessing, flexibly grouping, and moving the kids through teachers and instruction depending on what they need. We will have homogeneous and heterogeneous groups -- to build on current strengths and to build new ones.

I have done multiage and looping before (in CA), and dabbled in project based learning, but not to this magnitude. I have been itching to do it again since I moved here to TX. I found a principal who, ironically, had been dying to do it for a while too! Perfect match!

It took time and planning to make sure everything is precisely planned...EVERYTHING ON PURPOSE, as I like to say.

Multiage - because that's life...we interact with all ages, and we are all developmentally different, no matter what our age. These kids will have instruction delivered as they need, with the materials they need. I have always individualized my instruction, and this is just on a grander scale. Little ones will be mentored by olders, yes, but the great surprise will be how much the youngers often teach the older ones! It's all about learning to learn together, to respect and appreciate others and their different perspectives, and that no one age has the corner of the market! :) Teamwork and collaboration...essential skills for a lifetime...

Multiyear - OH MY GOSH how I love having multiple years. The pace is exactly what they need. I can accelerate or slow down in different areas as the child needs. Sometimes it takes a little longer for things to click, and having the extra years will do that. I loved having the chance to pick up right where we left off the second and third years, despite summer break. There was no anxiety about starting school...we had a RELATIONSHIP. It's going to build bonds between the students and myself in a special way.

Project Based Learning - Projects that incorporate skills and learning that really impact the world. They create real life products that are shared in a global sense. We will be connecting with people from around the world, and learning essential leadership, collaboration, and technology skills that will serve us well past the classroom walls. It's hard to sum up in a paragraph...I am not doing it justice. See and for more information if you are interested.

Brain based instruction and best practices plus a strong character building component too...yes, my plate is full...but I won't fail you with the reading. I know that this blog was designed with that in mind, and I will continue. With a lot more to boot!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Ahhh Summertime

I can't believe how long it has been since I have blogged. It's one of those things...if I don't make it a daily habit, it falls through the cracks.

I will say, however, I have enjoyed reading this summer. With the boys, and by myself. It's actually the first time in MANY years that I devoured novels, just for me.

My assistant principal sent out a booklist of her favorite reads, and...well, as we know, good readers take recommendations from other good readers...

I read five books in a week.

My faves...Glass Castle, The Help, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Outliers, Room, When You Reach Me, and two professional books: Teaching With the Brain in Mind 2nd edition and Re-inventing Project Based Learning.

Some were Kindle read, some actual books...and I realized something about that. It's important to be able to use electronics sometimes in that way, and sometimes I would rather have the book. While on the airplane or on my bike trainer, the easiest thing was to pull out the iPad or Kindle. When wanting to take notes or comfy up with a cup of coffee on the couch, I preferred a book.

I also notice that there are times of day and places where I prefer to read.

Why do I make note of that? Well, those of you who have read this blog before know that the best way to be able to help your kids learn to read is to know YOURSELF as a reader. You can share with them your strengths and makes them realize that reading is a process and that no one ever completely arrives to a place where you are done growing as a reader.

My goal now? Well, besides fit in the rest of the books on my list (The Art of Racing in the Rain, Imperfect Birds, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Noah Barleywater Runs Away, and The Book Thief)
I want to get back on this blog.

It may look different this year. I am embarking on a project at school that I will be sharing with you along the way...more about that tomorrow!