Archive for January, 2010

Scaffolding vs.Rescuing

The scene outside makes me want to be a kid again.  The neighborhood kids are busy playing in the snow, and if I could think of a good reason to join them, I would.  

It’s not so bad inside, however.  The sun is streaming through the window, and I am nestled in a blanket on the couch reading some of my favorite journals.  Today’s reading  is an online selection called Choice Literacy, and the article that particularly catches my attention is entitled “Are you Scaffolding  or Rescuing.”   The author of that article talks about the difference between the two and how important it is to scaffold.   There is also a list of questions to ask ourselves to see if we have a tendency to rescue rather than scaffold our students. 

(With the help of a web highlighting and sticky note site called Diigo,  I’ve pulled a page from that article, highlighted areas that grabbed my attention, and added my thoughts on sticky notes.  I’ve also left the sticky notes public so you can add your thoughts.  This is a great way for us to look at and respond to the same information.  Think about using Diigo in the classroom.  What a great way to let kids see your thinking.  Think about scanning student writing, or a page of a book, using Diigo to annotate, and sharing on the Smart Board or screen.  A very simple tool that can make your thinking more concrete for students.)

So . . . as I was saying about scaffolding vs. rescuing students before the plug for Diigo, the article I’ve linked has some interesting thoughts on how we interact with students.  I hope you leave some comments!


Celebrate Poetry in the Classroom

Yesterday I had the opportunity to read a Dr. Seuss book to my little grandson.  Austin is five months old now, and what a wonderful experience I had with him!  He actually looked at the book as I held him up against me in my lap and read in my funniest voice.  I would stop and repeat a word here and there, make faces at Austin and get him to laugh.  Hopefully, I will be able to share my love of reading with him, and he, too, will love to read. 

Loving to read does not always come easily to our kids.  There are a lot of other things to get their attention.  How are the students doing in your classroom?  Are they choosing “Just Right” books for independent reading time?  Have they identified a few authors they really enjoy reading?  Are the students still excited about reading, or do you need to shake things up a bit?  Many of the teachers on the blogs I read talk about introducing contests, book talks, and author studies at this time of the year, just to keep the interest high and readers challenged.

For me, I tried to stimulate my Reading and Writing Workshops at this time of the year with poetry.  February and poetry seem to go hand-in-hand.  National Poetry Month is not until April, but February seems to lend itself to celebrating poetry.  After all, we have Valentine’s Day in February and kids love to make up silly rhymes to go with their cards.  Kristine O’Connell George has a wonderful site with 33 ways to celebrate poetry in the classroom.  I hope you try a few!

The slideshow I created at the top of the page is very simple to do, and what a wonderful way to catch memories from the classroom to write about . . . or as a story starter .  . . or as a way to develop a new ending to a story the class is writing.  The possiblilities are endless, and the website is very easy to use.  Here is the url:

Have a great week, and I hope you find a new book to read!

Oh, the Possibilities!

I just got back from the conference I attended last week, and my mind is spinning with all the wonderful possibilities to integrate reading, writing, and technology.  I went to the conference with a plan to attend all the sessions I could that showcased ideas for using the technology we already have or free resources on the web.  I came back with many things to share with you. 

One of the most exciting things I learned about is a free resource called Google Lit Trips.  This is a site that combines the power of Google Earth with the power of great literature.   As I learned about it and talked with two teachers who use it in their Reading and Writing Workshops, I kept thinking how we could use it at our school during our Read Aloud times, with our Lit Circles, and eventually build a trip with our own students.  It is truly an amazing site!  In order to use it, you will need to download Goggle Earth to your computer first.  

Here is the link for the site.  I hope you enjoy it!  Let me know if you would like to learn about this site with me.  If you are already using this site, I would love to hear how you are using it in your classroom.   Oh, the possibilities . . .!

The Winter Thaw

Today the temperature is supposed to get out of the teens.  For us, right now, it seems like the beginning of the winter thaw.  During the snowy time we had last week, I lost power for a few hours.  It is amazing how quickly the house gets cold.  Today, however, the sun is shining.  I am looking over last week’s missed lesson plans and trying to reschedule what I planned for last week into a week that looks nothing like the one I planned for before the snow.  I know all of us are in the same boat.

To help with your lesson plans for Martin Luther King Day that is fast approaching, I have a website that lists the best of the web on Martin Luther King.  I hope you find some activities you want to use in your classroom.

Welcome to January in the Ozarks

The site outside my window could not be more beautiful!    The snow on the trees and shrubs is a scene straight from a postcard.  As I sit here this morning getting organized for the week ahead, my eyes keep drifting to the beautiful view outside and childhood memories of playing in the snow.  We haven’t had snow with the big, fluffy flakes in several years.  We’ve had ice, but not the kind of snow I remember from my childhood.  Today brings me back to those times.

What a great writing opportunity the snow provides!  One of my favorite writing activities to do with students is the Memory Map.  As I think about my “memory map,”  I think about the house on the hill where I lived when I was in third grade–the snowmen my sister and I built, the trouble we got into for sledding down the hill without permission, the squeals of excitement and fright as we whirled down the hill faster and faster.  My Memory Map includes several spots on that hill.  I hope you have time this month to let your kids discover their own “Memory Maps” of a special place they loved.  The snow just gives us an opportunity to work with personal narrative and descriptive words.  But. . . what an opportunity it is!

As teachers, we are always looking for those books that will inspire and guide our students as we work with them.  Over the holiday break, I came across a list of books I couldn’t wait to share with you.  This is a list of  the best lists for 2009.  I hope you will find new and exciting books to use in your classrooms!  Welcome back to reading and writing with kids!