Sometimes things are so simple and glaringly obvious, I just don't see them. We have been thinking like Mr van Gogh and painting Starry Night. The movement of the swirling wind, the twinkling stars. We talk about how you can almost feel the movement that Mr Van Gogh was trying to paint. Feel. There's the word. And the simple and glaringly obvious - a Starry Night sensory tray.
There's something quite intriguing about reindeer. They are both real - and make believe. Here is a quick kid friendly video about the [reindeer of Lapland]. Lots of info about Santa's reindeer [here]. And the Reindeer Cam app crosses between fiction and non-fiction. Feeding time is pretty cool; we have taken a kindergarten break to watch Santa feed his reindeer.
Turkey is a country that is a feast for the senses. The colours of the landscapes, the local produce and the wares sold at every market. The bustling noise of the markets. And the food. I was not prepared for how delicious the food would taste and smell. Walking through the markets, I knew that a bit of Turkey would come home to start off a Turkish Bazaar Sensory Bin.
Halloween has come and gone for another year. I love it (so many wonderful books to read!) - but I am exhausted. So grateful that Halloween landed on a Friday this year.
I will 'fess up that I did not not dress up as a character from a book. Thought about it. Thought that it might be fun to be Captain Underpants. But my K students would not have "got" it - and would just wonder why on earth I was wearing a towel like a diaper and a cape (yes, unlike the real Captain Underpants, I would be wearing a shirt too). And the parents might quietly ask each other if it was okay to leave their kids with me every day. Maybe if I taught grade 2 or 3 ....
But this year, I wanted to wear a tutu.
And that led, naturally, to being Starry Night (in a tutu).
Now you know too much about my rather random and haphazard thought processes...
Donalyn Miller, closes her book with her thoughts about assessment. And her students moving on from the community that they have built together through their mutual excitement about and love for reading and books.
The final chapter of Donalyn Miller's book The Book Whisperer is titled: Letting Go.
To me, the book has come full circle.
We started off by needing to let go of our beautifully manicured lesson plans that offer students wonderful extension activities to the class book that is being read (likely popcorn style) by the entire class.
Teachers need to let go of our tightly held control of what is read in the classroom. And how it is read. And what work/activity is required as a response to reading it.
Instead, we need to coax, nurture, fan the flames - whatever it takes - of a love of reading.
We need to see our students as voracious readers - even if they don't - until they grow into that expectation.
We need to delight in books and reading ourselves. So much so that it is contagious. We need to be reading role models for our students.
How does this look in kindergarten since we are still learning to read...
It is my responsibility to nurture a love of story, of curiosity what we can learn from books, a delight in the surprises and gifts that a new book can bring - so that every one of my students sees themselves as a reader of pictures, a reteller of stories and a just-about reader of the words.
I need to nurture to a community who revels in the mystery and joy and soul expanding-ness of reading.
And once we have shared that joy and mystery with our students, we have to trust that it will stay with them. We can hope that they have future teachers who will grow it again. But we have to trust that the community build with our students will stay with all of us, even if we don't get to spend every day together.
We have to
let them go, let them go
we can't hold onto them any more
yes, we did have a few Elsa's at school on Halloween
I think I have renamed Monday, "Read More Monday".
That seems to be the essence of Miller's words of wisdom: get the kids reading more. And make sure that teachers are reading "more" too; teachers are reading role models for students.
I've got to share some book excitement with you. Friday was a Professional Development Day for us. And you know how they always have displays of amazing books and toys and resources for the classroom. Well, a few things just called my name so loudly, I was compelled to buy them. (And a few colleagues added their persuasion when I erroneously thought that I did not really need a new underwear book!)
Here are my buys.
Only four books and an amazing puppet - but the school book fair is only a couple weeks away. I have to pace myself.
Chapter 6 is titled Cutting the Teacher Strings. It's time to take a good hard look at things I do because they are things that I have always done.
The toe bone's connected to the foot bone. The foot bone's connected to the ankle bone. The ankle bone's connected to the leg bone. These bone's are gonna rise again. We don't have our anatomy quite right. But we're okay with that. Because our skeletons have personality.
It's two weeks before Halloween. I know that this statement does not seem to have a lot to do with The Book Whisperer. But it does. Two week before Halloween I get out the Halloween "stuff". Including the Halloween books. I am not crazy about the ghoulishness and blood and gore of Halloween. I definitely am not a fan of kids having Halloween candy for breakfast and then coming to school -- and then a crapload more if of it in their lunches. But Halloween books. There are so many wonderful Halloween books. Today we will be reading The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything. A wonderful book for retelling. Pumpkin Pumpkin is a lovely, gentle story about the life cycle of pumpkins (and all plants). The Big Pumpkin is also great for retelling and is an adaptation of a folk tale (thinking book genres from chapter 4). I love reading The Runaway Pumpkin aloud for its rollicking rhythm. And there are so many others? What are some of your favourites? Chapter 5 of Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer, Walking the Walk, is all about sharing enthusiasm for reading with students.
I love peeking into other people's classrooms. Here is your invitation to peek into mine.
My goal is to make our classroom a welcoming place for my students and their families. I want it to be a backdrop for the kids' learning and their work. I want it to pique their curiosity without being overwhelming. I want it to be about the kids who spend a year learning and growing in kindergarten.