This blog’s been percolating for a bit…so the “today” I mention really happened in early November. I actually thought I had published this already, so thanks, David, for the nudge! Here goes…
I’ve been having trouble blogging lately and I think I’ve figured out why. I think somehow, somewhere along the line, I began looking at blogging as inciting something rather than sharing what I do and reflecting on what it is I do. Today something got pushed into my mailbox and I saw this blog, which ended with this statement: “I believe blogging is a central part of what academics have to offer the world. It’s about taking all our hard-earned knowledge and sharing it with broader circles than journal readers and conference attendees. What could be more important than that?”
I do believe it’s important for us to share what we’re doing in our classrooms as we figure out how to use social media, get kids thinking globally and encourage them to think for themselves. This fall, I’ve taken on quad blogging, redoing our learning space to accommodate movement and flexible areas, pushing my various years of wiki kids to connect across years (I have a 7th grader who volunteered to help younger kids with their wikis) and I’m actually using a wiki that I share with parents to organize my teaching of both my math group and my literacy group. I haven’t had a literacy group in years, and I am struggling with keeping up with the prolific readers I have. I am spending nights and weekends reading princess and fairy books, adventure and realistic fiction, as well as historical novels and historical fiction. I love historical fiction myself, but many of these kids have read little of it–though they are professed history lovers.They just haven’t had someone do book talks about historical fiction enough, I don’t think.
I come in on Mondays after my what-are-becoming-every-weekend-visits-to-my-cheap-book-store with books–and hand them out to the kids I was thinking of when I picked them up. Kids are loving my choices–but even more they are enjoying finding out about how I think about questioning, worrying about asking them at the high level of Bloom’s taxonomy and getting them to think deeply about their reading, the connections they can make through it, and the thinking they do. (We recently had a lesson on those levels, where I described them and we analyzed a typical set of questions I found online about one of the books we were reading. Kids were blown away by the number of low level questions versus the higher level ones.) What they don’t know is that now that they understand the levels, they will be asked to make up questions for themselves that are high level–I hope to deepen their ability to question, not only what they read, but themselves and their thinking as well! My emphasis is more on the questions they ask than the answers they give.
I don’t want to impart knowledge…only, as many believe is the job of “teacher.” I want to share thinking and questioning, and re-engage those lifelong learner habits and attitudes these kids came to Kindergarten with. I love having the individual conversations about books with kids–and probing to find out why they like the genre of books they do–or how they choose books. I had one kid tell me she never picked out good books for herself–so she was just going to let me do it all year for her since I did it so well. What???? Nope, she and I go to the library and I talk through my strategy of looking for books as I do it, with her standing right by me. In my Monday book talks, I share what intrigued me about the books I chose and why I thought of Johnny or Susie, or Petey as I looked at that book. They know I listen to them and try to figure out how to share stuff so they become more passionate and knowledgeable and thoughtful people.
So why haven’t I been listening to myself and sharing online more? There are lots of reasons, and frankly, I just quit trying in many venues, backing up to do it in my classroom, with my parent community and with trusted critical friends…but today’s push into my email box–the comment I began with, “I believe blogging is a central part of what academics have to offer the world. It’s about taking all our hard-earned knowledge and sharing it with broader circles than journal readers and conference attendees. What could be more important than that?” reminded me we need to push through that reticence when we feel it. We need to speak up and share–whether that be as a match or a slow flame, burning to ignite–or nurture–the fire of learning in others. What I know best, I need to share–and what I know best is what I do with my kids.