Sunday, January 28, 2007

Enjoying the Snow!

Hi Blogicians,

I thought you might like to compare the winters of northeastern Ohio to yours! If you click on this link, you'll see map of where I live. I've posted 4 pictures I've taken in the last two days so you could enjoy our snow too!

This one is at home in Chardon!
Do you think I had cleared the driveway once already? How can you tell?
Does the tree with all the snow paint a picture of something else? What?
What one word might you use to describe this picture?

You can check in the comment for an answer to the first question.

He looked out and he cried!

Hi Blogicians,

Here's the second picture from home!
He asked to go out. I opened the door. He looked out and he cried!

Who did I have to make a path for?
From his eyes, what did he see?
What words would you use to describe the snow?

Check the comment to learn for whom the path was made!

And these are?

Hi Blogicians,

Here's a third picture that illustrates our weather!!
In Chardon, down the hill.
What’s happening here?
How long do you think they are?
Is there an idiom you could use to describe this picture?

A new meaning to the word shovel!

Hi there Blogicians!

This is the last of snow pictures from Chardon! This big shovel is two lanes wide and its scoop is 3 feet high!

Can you see the roof of McDonalds in the back; it’s across the street?
Where in Chardon do you think I see this?
How high do you think the piles of snow are?
What words could you use to describe this picture, the snow mover or the snow?

Check in the comment after you've made your decision!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Dear Mary

Dear Mary,

Your podcast thanking me for my comments made my heart skip a beat. I was tickled pink to hear it and hope you don’t mind my sharing it with the world in this letter to you. I shall treasure it always. Thank you!

You’ve taken the world of blogging by storm! Just think, it was only October when you first posted to Mary's Magic of Fame. You invited your readers to get to know you with your poem which painted a picture worth a thousand words. Our conversations began with your Red Panda and Gogonasus Fish Fossil posts. We’ve been on a roll ever since with questions for each other that makes each of us think.

Your extraordinary vocabulary pulls me to read all your posts and your “sweet” tone in the comments brings me back for more. I continue to shake my head in disbelief at our “whisper” word choice. You wrote “You said in such a way it was like a gentle whisper in the breeze.” as you described my comments and I had begun “I’ve been engaged in whispering questions to young people in the comments of their blogs”.

No bones about it, I happen to think that blogging is the cat’s meow-- that a grey haired woman in Ohio can engage in conversations with an insightful, thoughtful, perspicacious, and spirited 5th grade student from Georgia. How much we have learned, and I’m thinking the sky’s the limit in the next few months! Did you know Tuesdays are red letter days for me too! It means a new opportunity to dialogue with you!

All my best,

Monday, January 15, 2007

Captured fireflies --- and entry-year teachers

In her classroom our speculations ranged the world
She aroused us to book waving discussions.
Every morning we came to her carrying new truths, new facts,
New ideas cupped and sheltered in our hands like captured fireflies.
When she went away a sadness did not go out.
She left her signature upon us.
The literature of the teacher who writes on children's minds.
I've had many teachers who taught us soon forgotten things,
But only a few like her who created in me a new thing, a new attitude, a new hunger.
I suppose that to a large extent I am the unsigned manuscript of that teacher.
What deathless power lies in the hands of such a person. ---by John Steinbeck

I opened the first day of the teaching professions program I taught with this poem. The first time I had read it, my life stood still. The students in that group reacted much the same; there was a deathly silence with an intense sense of commitment--

Mrs. C. and Darren have opened windows to their classrooms allowing us a glimpse of the power of such a classroom through their professional, class, and student blogs found here, here, here and in the sidebar here. Through these windows, I think we see exactly what Anne Davis mentioned to me in an email:
"We need to give students time to really take delight in their learning. Helping them become reflective learners really does require a different way of teaching and learning in our classrooms."

That way of teaching and learning are modeled for us all---These posts of Mrs. C invite, engage, and celebrate the Blogicians here, here and here. What youngster wouldn't take up any challenge or return with some special idea here?

And Mary, Lindsey, Eddie, and Emmy respond to truly validate that teaching.

Darren's posts invite us to view a group of students creating their criteria for excellence on his unique flickr assignments; his excitement and joy at their collaboration is contagious here.

Allen responds to such an environment with a unique and creative scribe and Linger notes the joy of math.

Yes, a different type of teaching and learning and this:
Every morning we came to her carrying new truths, new facts,
New ideas cupped and sheltered in our hands like captured fireflies.

The question then is how, in this time of direct teaching and high stakes testing, can we help teachers, especially entry-year teachers to scaffold this kind of joy for and in learning?

I find that a real dilemna right now as I work to design and develop an online mentoring course for entry-year teachers in Ohio. Ohio requires that entry-year teachers participate in a year long program intended to help them become more accomplished teachers and experience success on their PRAXIS III performance assessment. The course is framed by the PRAXIS 4 Domains and I see that as a plus. Had I had such structure to guide my practice, oh how my students would have benefited and my path toward accomplished teaching much faster! That said, these new teachers have learned in a world in which joy and engagement have not often been the norm. I'm challenged and determined to add yet another framing to this course, that envelops the 4 Domains-- the Steinbeck poem captures the essence, yet I have miles to go to assure that these fledging educators consider the power which has been entrusted to them. How to best model this learning within a structured management system? How to blend the criteria of the Domains with such a sense that they seek to become that teacher who encourages curiousity, and learning with joy?