Approximations, Earthquakes and Dinosaurs

celebrate-image-1

Time to celebrate! Thank you Ruth Ayers and the community she nurtures.

And speaking of time…it’s almost that time! SBAC looms large. Manic testing season is around the corner. My head is full of “Are they ready?” (nope) “Have I covered everything?”(of course not) “What will happen if…” (let it go)

In my wanderings this morning, I have been to this scary post on Washington Post about high stakes testing. And I have read a wonderful op-ed piece in the LATimes about why Finish schools do so well. And then I took myself to my classroom blog to review and publish some student posts and comments.

First, I gotta say, I love Kidblog. This platform allows my students to communicate with one another and express themselves in an authentic way. And they do.

Of course, there are the favorite food polls, favorite song polls, favorite soda polls…

A few bully experiences and sibling stories.

They are arguing about Donald Trump. Most of them believe he is a bad guy.

They tell each other about books they are reading.

This week I asked them to step it up a bit. Raise their own level. Instead of one line about their favorite food, try to tell a story about it. Or write an info piece. We are exploring genre in our notebooks, and taking a topic and bending it into different types of writing. I encouraged them to try that in their blog posts. Some of them did.

This is how you play!When the quarterback say hike that mean it is time too block!Thats not all you are sopos to get ball and make a touchdown or get the first down.But you are on defense you can sack the quarterback or intersp it.That is how you play some football tell you some more latter by!!!

or this…

Did you ever know how an  earthquake can happen? an earth quake happens when a rock is found beneath the ground on top of fault line and it suddenly breaks and a earthquake comes

I struggle a bit with how heavily to edit. I want them to write more, and love it more, and feel empowered more… and asking them to fix it up can squash that. I draw the line at two things: if I can’t read it, it needs fixing up, and if it is untrue, inaccurate, or hurtful, it needs some revision.

I am inspired by how this activity gets some of my writers moving. Kids who rarely show excitement about writing come alive when it’s time to blog. The social aspect of it is powerful. But what moves me the most is when something we have been working on in class shows up in a post without my prompting it. We recently finished reading Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy. They DEVOURED it. It gave us a chance to examine metaphors and how authors use them to talk about deeper issues and themes.

This morning I found this, waiting for my review.

Dinosaurs are like a book club because each bone is like a person and they form together to make a group and this inspired me to do this because I love inspiring people to use their imagination and to become someone their parents have never seen before.

So, this week I choose to leave testing mania out of it, and I celebrate nine and fledgling ten-year-olds’ approximations. It’s all about the try. I don’t expect mastery or perfection. I want my students to feel free to try lots of stuff in an environment that will celebrate the engagement, the effort, the risk. They have LOTS of time to hone their craft. But we don’t have lots of time to get them inspired. That window is closing, as hormones hover in the wings. Now is the time to nurture that fierce love of learning, to inspire that deep and firm sense of “I can,” and to stoke the courage that will push them over the hurdles to come.

Take that, SBAC.

 

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Approximations, Earthquakes and Dinosaurs

  1. I enjoyed reading the example posts. I blogged the challenge with my students last year (now I’m retired) but found they grew & grew as writers because of it. It’s great you’re doing it, and I know how much time it takes!

  2. I love that you want to get your students inspired in the last stretch of the school year. It is so important to make them lifelong learners.

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