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Students are often called upon to read "chorally".
That is, they read together simultaneously
as a group.
Repeating this practice assists young readers
with reading fluency -
the speed, accuracy,
and inflection of oral reading.
Why not, since it's called "choral" reading anyway, actually read the chorus of a song?
My son was watching PBS Kids recently when a short message played between programs. Appearing on screen was a teacher telling viewers that he addresses his students as young, or future, doctors and lawyers. Apparently, doctoring and lawyering are the epitome of professional success. Now, don't get me wrong: I have nothing against doctors and lawyers. In fact, good lawyers and good doctors have been responsible for some very good events in my life. But I can't funnel my students into only two jobs. That would be ridiculous.
It would be ridiculous because - well - just imagine the world of the future where there are no fry cooks, auto mechanics, or even teachers, because everyone is either a doctor or a lawyer. Who cleans up after the surgery? Who guards convicted felons? Who raises the next generation of doctors and lawyers? It is preposterous to believe that all of my students should aspire to only two professions in the future.
It would be ridiculous because not every student is cut out for a medical or legal career. There are some who have no business prescribing medicine to people or plea bargain with a plaintiff. My students have a broad range of interests and strengths; perhaps they should pursue careers they will enjoy and succeed in rather than go for the gold in the go-to fields of medicine and law.
It would be ridiculous because all the gold is not in two professions. The medical and legal fields may be two ways to make money. After a huge investment for the education, a few may begin to line their pockets with Benjamins, but other professions exist that will still out-earn them. If cash on hand is the primary goal of a career, doctors and lawyers may wish they had pursued another route to earning theirs.
It would be ridiculous because it would be boring. What will we talk about all day outside of the examination room or the latest deposition meeting? Who would have anything new to say? Our diversity of careers is part of what makes us interesting to other people.
It would be ridiculous because it would bring the costs of medical care and legal advice down to a level that could not sustain the economy. If everybody is a doctor or a lawyer, then we wouldn't have to look far for those services. The unlimited supply would easily eclipse the demand, and prices would plummet. In doing so, these professions would soon become so low paying that the whole reason for pushing students in that direction will have been for naught.
It would be ridiculous because it would discourage students with no propensity toward those professions. What did the teacher imply? That anyone outside of the hospital and the courtroom is worthless? Then I must be of less value than they are.
There is as much such variety in career paths as there are personalities in the human race. Some people are prone to creative ventures, while others are good at assembling puzzles. Some lean toward numbers, while others are good with their hands. We all have our strengths and march to our own drummers, so we must be allowed to explore other avenues of interest.
Many of us are probably just as guilty as this PBS teacher, when we have referred to doctors and lawyers when eluding to professional success. I only hope we can break the habit and consider that others are successful, as well, that others are happy with their career choices, and that others can still hold their heads high after making their choices. While we certainly need good doctors and lawyers (and nurses and legal aides, etc.), we also must cultivate and fertilize the soil to make it receptive to an unending variety of career choices.
Watch this video and describe the situation:
Write down the first mathematical question that comes to mind.
As a class, we will decide on a central question to work on.
Make three smart guesses to answer the central question:
a guess too low, a guess too high, and a guess in the middle.
Place your guesses on the number line.
How close was the actual solution to your estimate?
What would have helped you achieve a more accurate estimate?
Did you make any mistakes along the way?
How might you avoid such a mistake in the future?
Explain your work to someone else? Did s/he do the work differently?
Can you explain the process using the other person's methods?
It looks like there are lots of people already shopping for their school supplies. I was waiting to post this supply list, but I think it might be better to put it out there now.
Every year, the school district provides a universal school supply list for all fourth graders in Joplin Schools. Since every teacher does not use supplies in the same way, I would like to request the following revisions to the list for our class (and save parents a little money). At the end of this post is a concise list all in one place.
Finally, please make the following changes to the list:
HEY! Let's make this easy.
Here is exactly what I'm asking for from each new fourth grader in Room 404:
If you would like, please feel free to bring these items to our Open House in August.
If you would rather, send them with your child on the first day of school.
Even when he talks about the types of workers in an organization, it is apparent that Mr. Clark focuses on his Runners. By doing so, he has realized these basics:
Again, I ask, Why are we like that? It may be that bosses and supervisors have ignored their go-getters for so long that it has become the status quo. Could it be that misguided focus that has pushed many Runners out of the teaching profession and others?
Now, in the business world we rarely focus on our Runners because they are doing a great job...It takes so little fuel to fire them up, and they tend to do their job so well that they don't require a lot of directional guidance from leadership...
As an occasional Runner, I react in just the way Ron Clark has described. It feels childish to say it, but I do still crave positive reactions from my bosses. I am still discouraged when I don't receive the credit I desire from my efforts.
As an administrator, there is nothing you can do that is more detrimental to the organization than kill the spirit of your Runners.
As a Runner, I do still react to positive recognition. And as childish as it feels, it still kills the spirit when I'm not impressing other people. I must remind myself of my own words: I've come to believe that I can only do my best. There are a few pages about this in my new book for educators: There's No Busyness Like School Busyness.
"No individual has any right
to come into the world
and go out of it
without leaving behind him
distinct and legitimate reasons
for having passed through it."
(George Washington Carver)
It's plain sad when a person does not have the ethics to work for their pay. I had a co-worker, several years ago who would show up on time, sit in her cubicle, nap, break for lunch, sleep, and leave at 5:00. She did not work for her paycheck.
I don't know how she did it. To me, it would take more work to scheme and get out of work than it would take to do the actual work in the first place.
I don't know how she did it. For me, my conscience would smack me in the face.
Yet, there are these people who do little or nothing to keep the bus moving. In Move Your Bus, Ron Clark calls them Riders. They are perfectly OK with allowing others - the Runners, the Joggers, and the Walkers - to do all the pushing.
Riders do not care about the overall success of the organization. In fact, they don't even care about their own personal success. They aren't trying to win awards or get recognition. They just exist. They can be a black hole of negative energy in an organization, a spot void of any positive growth or hope...and they sometimes receive the most attention from leaders who are desperately trying to motivate them to fix the situation
We all know co-workers (all from past jobs, right?) who do the very minimum possible to hang on to their positions.
But part of the problem lies less with the worker and more with the amount of energy the boss expends on him. I've watched bosses spend many hours a day on a single non-worker, giving up massive amounts of time and effort and making very little progress.
At the Ron Clark Academy, I'm the Driver of our bus. I have developed my own philosophy for steering the organization, and it goes something like this: I support the Runners first and then, while they are off and running, I turn my attention to the Joggers, Walkers, and Riders either to help them improve or to kick them off the bus.
I have three thoughts:
Let's understand that when we talk about the Riders, we're talking about Work Ethic - that is, a moral code of values that encourages a person to do right. These betray more than their own ethics, but they ride on the backs of the people around them.
That's more than plain sad; it's plain ugly.
Some among us make comparisons. From the hallway, we can peer into our door to watch our students at work (or not at work). Then we pivot to look into the neighbor's door, and we can't help but make comparisons.
Both classes are so well behaved.
We're on the same track.
Or not. More than compare, we tend to make contrasts. We see the differences, and we make mental notes.
The parents of her kids are obviously in a higher economic class.
Why did she get all the good kids?
See a problem yet? I wonder why we do this. I didn't do the research, but I'm pretty sure it would look something like this:
68% of teachers believe their classes are from a lower social class than other classes.
I don't know why we tend to believe we have it harder than others. It's similar to the little competition we get into when discussing the weather.
"Sure is hot, isn't it?"
"'Could be worse: I remember when I lived in Phoenix. Whoo! One day the thermometer his 114!"
"Well, that's a dry heat. I took a trip to South Carolina one summer, and the humidity practically killed me. People were dropping like flies."
Is this human nature? Why do we compete to have the best - or worst - story?
Are some classes more challenging than others? Absolutely. Is it more difficult to inspire some groups than others? Yes. Can you do anything about it? Probably!
This is where we might be focused on the wrong things. Rather than see where they are, we need to envision where they are going. Take them to the next level. Get them through the next step. Help them see their successes by helping them see their improvements.
And stop worrying about where you stand in contrast to others. Even if you did somehow inherit the "Sweathog" group, do something about it. You think complaining will make things better? Think again. You think bragging about how bad you have it is going to reduce your stress? I guarantee it will not.
Remind yourself to do your best. Admit if you need some relief. Seek to improve with the help of the people around you.
Sometimes, when we go to the movies or as we watch a show on TV, we are transported into the plot. Directors understand that their selection of background music can change and enhance a scene.
Now it is time to turn it around. This time, the music comes first. As it plays, allow it to transport you into a scene that has yet to be written. Then, write the scene. Use all the visual imagery you can muster in your writing. At the end, you will share your writing. Will it stand on its own, without the music in the background?
There is a wave of thought that we must do all we can to keep the self-esteem of children intact - to the point that we aren't being realistic with kids about their abilities. Why does every child on the Little League team now receive a trophy? They all ain't that good. You know who should get the trophy? The most valuable player. And when you child cries, "Why didn't I get trophy?" you should respond, "Because you aren't the MVP." Period. End of discussion.
Ron Clark is pretty blunt when he talks about entitlement. One may not expect that from a man who teaches in the inner city of Atlanta, but one thing Mr. Clark seems to understand is this: none of his students will ever move forward on his own if all he knows is how to put out his hand. He would rather his students learn and achieve on their own. And they work hard to do just that.
Ironically, they get a lot of help from corporate and celebrity sponsors. I'm OK with that as long as they aren't just handing the cash over to the students, but invest in them wisely and encourage personal responsibility.
Responsibility. That's that elusive quality that we say we want to encourage, but we act differently. In government schools, we are often relegated to giving away more than empowering. We provide breakfasts, lunches, and sometimes suppers. We provide before-school, after-school childcare. We hand out free food for the weekends and turkey dinners for the holidays. Not that some of those things aren't necessary - after all, we are a compassionate people - but perhaps we should rethink everything.
Empowerment would indicate that I teach my students to fend for themselves - earn their income and improve their outcome - not that I hand them a solution. And when I say teach, I mean that they will not come by empowerment , in our society, by natural means.
What has happened to America, and why isn't everyone inspired to run naturally? We are a nation built by people with a tremendous work ethic, people who weren't afraid of a challenge. Now, it seems Runners are becoming the rarity, and everyone feels they are owed something. And the sense of entitlement that is so commonplace in America starts with you. No one promised you that you will have the job you have forever.
Sometimes being blunt, like in these quotes from Mr. Clark's book, Move Your Bus, is necessary to make a point. It does not indicate that we lack heart, love, or care for our students. It means that we strive to break cycles of poverty, social impotence, and chronic ambivalence for them instead. It's not that we don't want to give a fish to our needy patrons, but that teaching them how to fish will ultimately be more beneficial to them, even when we are gone from their presence.
My new book is now in physical form and available three ways - from my own webstore, from Amazon, and for the Kindle. It's always an incredible feeling to see it in printed form, to hold it in my hand and read it from actual paper.
Well, she did it. My wife dragged me all the way to Pawhuska, Oklahoma. Do you know what's in Pawhuska? Not very much. In fact, there's really not very much between here and there either. It would not have been my first choice for a day trip.
I'm kidding. That's probably the standard husband response to a trip to the Pioneer Woman Mercantile in the heart of this small Oklahoma town, and I wouldn't want to disappoint other husbands by revealing that I like this kind of stuff. The Pioneer Woman, of course, is Ree Drummond, blogger, cook, author, and host of her own cooking show on the Food Network. Mrs. Drummond has opened a store to tout her favorite things (and a few souvenir trinkets, as well). Admittedly, she has done a beautiful job of revitalizing one of the old buildings in town.
When we arrived, the line to get into the store was a block and a half long - people standing in line not to board a train or an amusement park ride, but to enter a store that was already packed with other people. Another line was also a couple of blocks long for a little diner that Drummond also owns. This town wasn't ready for the kind of traffic she has attracted.
I must admit that I like her approach. Drummond is not pretentious like all the other TV "chefs" and cooks. She has kept simplicity in her TV program. She also has kept things at home, choosing to record her show and produce her cookbooks locally. She also features her husband and children on her show, who are portrayed as hard workers on the ranch which is actually quite a large cattle operation located on thousands of acres near Pawhuska.
While at the store, we received directions that guided us outside of town to the family ranch. There, in their "lodge", is the location of the kitchen she uses on her program. The whole thing was open for people to freely walk through.
I didn't think I needed to take many pictures of any of this, but here's what I have (no shots of the Mercantile in Pawhuska though).
Anyone in the Joplin area can easily get to Pawhuska in two and a half hours. It's a nice trip with some interesting sites along the way if you're willing to stop. Go the right way, and you'll be in the vicinity of the Little House on the Prairie homestead location, a town that boasts the country's longest Yellow Brick Road (You'll be in Kansas, so you have to expect that.), and a couple of other hidden "gems". Take a day and check it out.
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