Always Thinking and Learning about Reading

The thing about teaching is I never leave it behind.  I’m continually thinking about how to improve my practice.  About how to make school more relevant even though I’m struggling up stream against a current of “system”.

 

I’m only four days into summer holidays and I’m planning away in my mind.  I’m thinking a lot about language arts because I’m teaching English to grades 3-6 students who are in the French Immersion Programme.  I have to catch them up in terms of reading and spelling and support their writing.  Particularly for the grade 3s who have to write EQAO in English even though they have never had any instruction in English – I’ll leave that rant for another day.

 

My dilemma is how do I make teaching reading relevant?  Writing seems a bit easier since I’m going to introduce blogging to my classes.  I have the summer to set it up.

I plan to use the Daily Five and Daily Cafe routines set out by The 2 Sisters, Gail Moser Bouchey and Joan Moser.  I really like their routines and methods for individual conferencing and guided reading.  I will try to find interesting texts to read.  I have a great classroom library – full of books I’ve been collecting over the years.  I’m hoping to set up the routines so the students can work independently on reading, writing and word work with choice as to what they read, what they write about and when they work on specific tasks.  The thing is, I won’t have that much time with them.  The grade 3s will only have 40 minutes per day.  OY.  So – how to make a language class meaningful and relevant and include critical thinking and technology (I won’t have much access to technology actually, although I’m working on a plan).

 

So I need some help with the critical thinking, word work, real world connections, technology integration, etc.

 

Suggestions are very, very welcome.  Thanks in advance.

Image is CC  http://www.flickr.com/photos/83955435@N00/7229079 courtesy of Old Shoe Woman

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#Kony2012 “The Medium is the Message”

I learned an important lesson from the Kony 2012 viral video.  I learned that I’m not always critical of information I get from Social Media.  If I’m not critical it’s likely that my students aren’t either.  So I used this lesson as a teachable moment for my grade 8s.

On the Friday before March break the students are antsy.  So instead of a math lesson, we had a media lesson.  A fun and engaging one.

I showed them the Kony video (about 1/4 had already viewed it).  Their reactions were what you would expect:  horror, outrage, a desire to help.  We had a discussion about the issue, what Kony was doing, what a bad guy he is.  Then I filled them in on what little I know of the issue, with an emphasis on how little I know and how unqualified I am to comment.  I showed them my blog post on Urban Moms.  We discussed how I shared the video before I read any of the other information out there.  I told them I regretted sharing it so fast.

We looked at the contradictory information out there and most of them decided that they would not buy the package from Invisible Children without some more research.  That was my goal.  To have them think critically before doing anything like sharing or spending money.

This is not a criticism of Invisible Children or the Stop Kony campaign.  It is about how my own personal reflections became a spring board for a discussion of media literacy and critical thinking.  I think Social Media is a fantastic way to spread messages, but that is only slactivism.  Sharing on Facebook is not activism as it is not “doing”.  We only bring about change by caring first and then doing something.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s not.”  The Lorax