“I’m lost,” she shared.
“Awesome,” I exclaimed.
Taken a bit by surprise, she and her friends cocked their heads, furrowed their brows, and smiled their doubts. Awesome? How’s that awesome?
“Let’s get found,” I smiled with reassurance, thanking her for getting lost, thanking her for providing a path for her learning. I love it when my kids get lost. Wish they would do it more often.
The work’s begun. And so has the confusion. Yesterday, we began our weekly, Wednesday, “We-are-grammarians!” days. Not the most inspiring or exciting day of our week, but alas a necessary one. There are realities on my kids’ horizons that require that they have some knowledge, some skill with grammar, so I devote a day to it. But I don’t make that day about drill and kill. And I work hard to connect it to our work as writers, focusing mostly on syntax and creating practical pathways to application, but first there has to be some foundational work. Yesterday, we started laying a foundation. Here’s how I go about it.
First, I make some assumptions, but because they are assumptions, they may not be entirely accurate. But, in a world without enough time, I have to make sacrifices. And I tell the kids as much. I tell them that I am going to assume that they have had experience with some elements of grammar, and that I will not spend the time teaching that which I assume they “already know.” I assume that they know the parts of speech. I recognize that this assumption is outta whack. Kids’ “knowing” is all over the place with this, but I am not going to take the time to reteach them nouns, which they have likely “learned” every year since second grade. And I am not going to “put them to the test,” penalizing them for their “faulty memories” of things apparently not important enough to remember. But, that said, I do want them to have a working understanding of the terms I use, of the language I speak. So I provide for that.
Second, I believe in resources. I believe in the “real-world” real learners use resources. I think of the myriad resources at my disposal that I use daily to move my own learning forward. I don’t rely on memory if I don’t have to. And in truth, I have very little space in my RAM, so I do what learners do, and I Google it. Okay, that’s an oversimplification, but it’s not entirely off the mark. Learners need resources. Resources are abundantly available. So learners need to use resources. And so, I allow resources on all assessments. For my class, those resources come in two forms: My Sources and Sy Sources.
My Sources. Yesterday, the kids created their first My Source. For things that are review, for things assumed, I give the kids an opportunity to create their own sources, sources that fit them, sources that they may use on assessments. Below are some My Source examples that kids created for the parts of speech.
Importantly, I have to remember that “My Sources” are their sources, and though I want to jump to conclusions about and offer criticisms of their “sources” from the view through my teachers lenses, I don’t. Their sources will be helpful or they won’t. They will discover either way. And from their discoveries they will learn. They can always go back and add to their sources if they choose.
Sy Sources. These are the sources that I create for the kids. For those grammar elements that I deem more important, that I am going to teach, I create the resources. I used to have them copy them down in their notebooks, but I find note taking monotonous, and I also find it using up time that I don’t have. So I make the notes. I know that there is some power in having the kids write the notes themselves, but for me, that power is not greater than the time it takes. Kids keep these in their folders, and are they allowed to use them on all assessments.
Practice for Performance. In my class, we practice to perform. I provide ample practice opportunities in the same form that the performances take. For sentences, I use an approach I call TSX (see below). It is the same approach for both practice and performance opportunities, opportunities for me to give feedback.
Note: In the last example, I got distracted and didn’t write about sleep. I don’t know why I wrote about barking dogs. It was two periods before the kids called me out.
Lost and Found
Yesterday, Sara got “lost” in the practice. Turns out she wasn’t alone. But she was one of the brave who was willing to admit it. And because I want my kids to get lost, I will celebrate aloud when they do. I will throw “awesomes” out there. I will hold my heart and “moon” out loud that they need me when they raise their hands. And I will also exaggerate my disappointment and heartbreak when it’s only that they want to go to the bathroom. Can’t help you without that kiddos.
Along today’s trail we will…
…begin with Smiles and Frowns.
…take aim at integrating text evidence with our first Life is Lit passage. I will share more about this in tomorrow’s post.
…reflect in our Journey Journals.
And that’s our day. Excited to get lost with my kids today. Have a great day, all.
Do. Reflect. Do Better.
- ‘Cause Teaching Writing Ain’t Hard Enough: Project 180, Day 10
- The Stress Less Classroom: Project 180, Day 12