A blog worth sharing- and spaces that may in reality be in class rooms- with a caveat: chairs, desks, tables, technology, indoor /outdoor- what really must be in the room? IDEAS, and an energy for sharing ideas, learning ideas (from and with the students) and the sense of safety and respect that doesn’t come from tables, chairs, or technology, but is absorbed and passed on person to person, when learners, regardless of age and background feel that they too, can be a part of the inquiry process.
Having said that, this set of downloadable and free cards offered through the The Third Teacher website* makes a great reminder to us how we may play within the learning environment, changing it up a bit depending on varying student needs, and also encourage students to enjoy moving around their (our) learning stations.
The saying that “Change is as good as a rest” (variously attributed, but Churchill seems most popular) is easily debated – regardless- students quickly tend to flock to the same seating patterns, same spaces even when unassigned- a quick way to add a bit of extra challenge then would be to have them redesign the classroom every quarter- not merely empty and clean desks but make their own democratic suggestions about what could be a productive way of grouping (or ungrouping) desks etc. I know that movement around and through a space is essential not merely for fire drills, but also for the sense of belonging and ownership that results when one is able to touch and explore.
What do you think?
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It is everywhere! The statement that ” the only way to do a good job is to love what you do”. UM- not necessarily, and not really what we need to be proclaiming on classroom walls- as students rarely love drills- rarely love rewrites, rarely love the extra practice that must be undertaken to improve in any form of craft- or academic work.
How could we change it up then? This has been a constant desire of mine- to create a learning environment where all students receive the respect and opportunity to grow regardless of how much “hard work” both the educator and the student must apply before changes appear evident- and hard work isn’t always fun, nor is it always something one loves to do.
When we constantly toss about ideals that suggest “Passion” is all that is needed the craft behind the making may get lost in the dream that suggested “love is all you need”. I love the Beatles and all that they stood for, but would hazard a guess that not one of them really meant the statement literally. We need to get back to the core sense of practice, refining a skill and /or set of skills that will become, if not actually automatic, as close to automatic that an individual may muster and be able to call upon these skills as needed.
I cook, and when asked the secret ingredient have been known to answer “love” so indeed we all employ the suggestion that adding CARE will make a difference. And I am for caring classrooms everywhere- but not to the detriment of students being giving only the promise of learning without the practical tools. To truly empower students we need to offer guidelines; students whether in a regular or a flipped classroom, whether home-schooled or one of 50 in a classroom, benefit when the rules are clearly laid out, when the rubric is explained, and when the student is shown how to do something.
Practice may not make “perfect” but it will promote understanding; if the reasoning behind the practice is questioned, then dear teachers, do please have an explanation ready. Or depending on the age group of your students, think about sharing something that will spark discussion regarding why some types of practical actions do not always appear to be on target but indeed get the results- a classic film comes to mind- the original Karate Kid– hard to forget “wash on, wash off” as a muscle builder…
Sports and the Arts both offer a form of apprenticeship during which time participants improve their practice under the guidance of “master coaches”. The two words were juxtaposed on purpose, for mastery is what in the end produces that amazing result- the one that moves beyond rote and adapts or is applied to a specific situation, creating grace in action, be it a line on a page, a puck spinning towards a goal, or a new computer application. We all improve through practice if and when the areas where improvement is suggested are clearly defined, and clearly demonstrated with /through examples where these practical changes made a difference to the finished product.
It is about product in addition to process, and if/when we forget this we short change a student. Students are very self aware, and to be up lifted do not need simple pats on the back; they too want to recognize results and be proud of their own accomplishments. When a student is able to say “I worked hard on this and believe it says what I wanted it to say” the student is taking ownership of his/her learning- isn’t that really what as teachers we wish to produce?
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Preparing for September? Now I teach year round, (private lessons are open at the student’s request) but still get a soft spot for the month of September. And I love the combination of poetry and song to get me in the mood for fuller classes. Super favorites with children of all ages include all the books by Shel Silverstein, but I have a special space for the poems he wrote, or shared, which have a musical component.
Did you know that “The Unicorn“* began as a song first recorded by the Irish Rovers in 1962? The beauty of folk songs was that they became “singable” for everyone (Bob Dylan didn’t create the genre) 🙂
And what folk songs offer is the initiation into the importance of rhythm and cadence to help move both a song and a story along. We sing lullabies to our children regardless of what language we are speaking in the home; we coo, and murmur, and if someone has a set of words to go with these coos- then so much the better. With these interactions we are starting the process of literacy. So please, coo, murmur and hum to your children, plus if you can find them, put on the music and let the children ( join in too; they won’t mind if you are off key!) belt it out.
Here is a sample: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EPsuOEH1fY
– “those green alligators and long necked beasts” will have the kids jumping up and down- and you can be sure and find others that offer the same tongue challenges while giving everyone a chance to PLAY!
To add to the process grab some chalk and see if the children can draw the images -( one of the better uses of sidewalks- but be aware, children often enjoy hearing something again, and again, and again….
Shel Silverstein: collection of poetry for children – Full lyrics to the Unicorn may be found in his book
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