Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Letting Parents See Behind the Curtain and Using Literature Circles

I did a spring cleaning of sorts and moved a bunch of stuff off of my iPad. Some I uploaded to Google Drive and YouTube. I removed much from my iCloud storage as well. I had been paying 99 cents a month for extra storage. The cheap price let me be lazy. But why pay anything at all when free is also an option?

Anyhow, what I really wish to share is this video I came across while "spring cleaning".  I made it last year for the parents of my 5th grade students. I was trying to give them a glimpse into class. I like this video for many reasons:


  • It explains far better than anything in writing ever could what is going on in class. (As a side note, as an elementary school teacher I communicated weekly with parents. As a high school teacher, I've only emailed them twice. I have to be better.)
  • It reminds me that the best teaching usually isn't teacher centered. This video highlights Literature Circles.
  • Literature Circles is a technique/ learning format which allow students to choose from a variety of good books, not everyone is reading the same thing.
  • Literature Circles has kids assume different roles requiring different cognitive and executive skills. Twice a week, the children would talk about their assigned books through the lenses of a defined role. Some children were tasked to direct the discussion, other children were “word wizards” and had to define challenging words present in the text, still others were directed to serve as “literary luminators” and had to pick passages that they particularly liked and explain what they liked about the writing. 
  • I clearly remember that as I circulated around the room, I was so impressed at how engaged the children were in their discussions. Sometimes good teaching is getting out of the way.
  • If I may say so myself, I think the video is well made.
Takeaway? Good kid-centered teaching doesn't require tech. But tech allowed me to share what I was doing in class in ways I never could before.



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