Joy Kirr is a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. Her 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of their learning experiences... Want to have her speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is Joy's PORTFOLIO.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Fall Take-Aways

Fall is definitely over, as I sit here in temperatures below zero for two days off of school. I've been reading some great books - fiction and professional books. For a full list, see the shelf on the right of this blog. But here are the latest that I just had to share...

Professional Literature
     --> EVERY person who works with children should read this book.  How many of us have unwillingly (or sadly - consciously) shamed children by the words we use?* This book reminded me of the language Angela Maiers uses in Classroom Habitudes to let students know they matter, but it also reminded me of Ellin Oliver Keene's Talk About Understanding - using the power of our language to help students stretch their thinking. While reading, I frequently wondered, "HOW will I be able to think automatically and use these phrases on a consistent basis?" In chapter 8, the author explains that first your goal must be true. If your goal is valuable, then your lessons will be valuable, and your words will more likely reflect what you want your students to believe... The teachers in this book all cared about their students, more than they cared about what their students said or did. This makes all the difference. I know, after reading this, that I will be much more in tune to what words come out of my mouth.

Whole Novels for the Whole Class: A Student-centered approach by Ariel Sacks
     --> I've created a document with so many (all?) of her ideas in it so I can use this approach as we read The Outsiders this year. It just makes sense. What got me hooked was this Education Week article. If you teach middle school or high school english, you've got to read this one. If you need teacher's ideas to get you to purchase the book, check out our #ELAchat archives of the chapters.

Common Core English Language Arts in a PLC at Work: Grades 6-8 by Douglas Fisher & Nancy Frey
     --> You need your coworkers in order to efficiently create common assessments that are actually USEFUL to you and your students. You need TIME, provided by your district, so you can talk about your goals, the structure of any rubrics, and the lessons you've planned and implemented. This time needs to be given frequently, and it needs to be used well.

Teaching with Tablets: How do I integrate tablets with effective instruction? by Nancy Frey, Doug Fisher, and Alex Gonzalez
     --> The tech department at your school should review this book first, then disseminate the information to teachers and students while using the tablet apps suggested. Keep in mind, too, the gradual release of responsibility as you are delving in to any of the myriad activities suggested.
My "professional reads" this fall...

Children's Fiction - My Latest Favorites
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
The Liberation of Gabriel King by K.L. Going
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein
Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
Any of these can be read by my 7th graders - some are easier than others, but students will be engaged in all four!

If you're reading this, you've probably learned a TON this past fall as well, from books and your PLN. What is your one (hah!) take-away?

*In September, I came across a scathing video from Brene Brown, wrote her a letter, and she responded to the teachers who'd written to her in this post - regarding shame. I have heard me use phrases since that would be considered shaming, and I'm not proud of it. Reading Choice Words has shed even more light on how I want to change my language, especially in the classroom.

No comments:

Post a Comment