It seems I have many ideas for writing; I just don't have enough time to develop them all.
Once I decide to start something, it often heads off in a different direction than I originally intended. That's all right, as long as it doesn't try to go in too many directions at the same time.
This writing trait is all about identification and focus.
We must recognize the types of literature we read. It is important for us to learn to distinguish between the literature we enjoy, but we must also go much deeper.
Genre is often the attractant to a particular style of writing, whether it be in books, on our personal playlists, or on the big screen. Why a person is attracted to a specific genre is something for another time; suffice it to say that some folks enjoy the occasional romance novel, while others prefer westerns. Some like to read science fiction, while others prefer science research. People subscribe to a variety of magazines because they are interesting to the subscriber.
I have always believed that the best way to teach reading, and foster the enjoyment of reading is to allow readers to choose books in their preferred genres and at their personal reading levels. At the same time, we must all recognize that branching out to explore new territories can also be rewarding. I look at this with a fairly eclectic approach. It is much akin to a buffet: we peruse the buffet, looking past the sneeze guard, and we find the dishes we enjoy, but we also might take a little from an unknown dish. Just to try it. Just to see if it might be something we like. The same is true of our reading choices.
My four-year-old, like most other four-year-olds, tastes food with his eyes - judging a book by its cover, so to speak. Somehow, he has decided he does not have to put food into his mouth to know he likes or does not like it. He misses out on so many good dishes because of this. The same things happens when we quickly dismiss a book because the cover or the title does not appeal to us. There might just be entire food pallets out there, just waiting for us to discover them, but we will only know them if we try them first.
I'm not suggesting students should try a little bit of everything - that would be unreasonable - but to try an occasional new taste, or in our case an occasional new genre. That makes sense...doesn't it?
Here is Cecil Floyd Elementary's recent Spelling Bee champion. She won the 2015 spelling bee by spelling the word caftan (something teachers in the audience had to google).
This young lady is a fifth grader and graduate of the Hoggatteer Experience. She asked if she could come back to our class to read something she recently wrote - an informative piece about the "best teacher" in the world.
We are in the midst of working with fractions:
The outside of the box is simple enough: there are eight numbered metal "buttons" on the top. The job for students is to find which of the "buttons" are secretly wired together inside the box. Some boxes had as many as four wires inside.
It's my favorite of the writing traits:
We've worked all year on citing text clues to reinforce
conclusions, inferences, and predictions.
A good reader can sort through a text, whether fiction or nonfiction, to find the clues.
As the Joplin School District continually changes focus to hit the moving targets of federal and state standards, the latest development is the adoption of a system of "visible learning" and "self-regulated learning". To be clear, there really isn't anything new here at all, as this appears to be, in some areas, pretty old school.
There are four questions that students are being asked by administrators when they walk through classrooms:
For kicks, I turned on the camera to capture three of my students working through these types of questions. In this case, they were identifying the main idea of a non-fiction text, along with a couple of supporting details and the text structure (among other things).
Hear Ye, Hear Ye, Hear Ye!
In Joplin, Missouri, on this magnificent Groundhoggatt Day, February 2nd, 2014, when "the seer of seers, the prognosticator of all prognosticators" is summoned from his borrow in the old oak stump, will he see his shadow and proclaim six more weeks of winter, or will he declare spring just around the corner?
I'm writing this as we return to Joplin from Bolivar, Missouri, where 15 Cecil Floyd students competed as representatives of our Math League. Before we left, I told our students that I would be prouder of them for their mannerly, respectful behavior than I would be of their mathematical achievements (Naturally, we're always happy to see the mathematical achievement, as well.)...
Of the 15, one-third of our students are taking back ribbons:
In the Sprint Round, ANNA collected an Honorable Mention, and BYLER earned Sixth Place. For the Target Round, ISABELLA, ABIGAIL, and COLE each achieved Honorable Mention.
...and they were the best behaved and most respectful group in attendance!
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