Monday, November 10, 2014

Lots of Little Talking Heads

Principal ponderings...

Don't be confused by the title of this week's post.  I am not referring to the American rock band from the 80's, Talking Heads.  But give yourself some bonus points if you started singing "And She Was" or "Burning Down the House"!

The title of my post actually has to do with the new Educational Leadership magazine that arrived in my mailbox on Friday; it's titled "Talking and Listening."  And here's when I once again reveal my education nerdiness.  I was slightly giddy as I started to read through the table of contents and the introduction from the editor.  For example, I definitely felt validated when I came across the article titled, "Talking About Math: How to Better Facilitate Purposeful Discussion about Mathematics."  Sound familiar?!  The article talks about different structures for mathematical discussions, such as open strategy sharing and targeted sharing.  The message to take away from this article: "Teachers play an important role in creating learning opportunities through discussions.  As teachers foster productive mathematical discussion, it is important to work toward a mathematical goal while helping students learn how to participate as sharers and listeners."

In the magazine, they talked about a recent study of discussions happening in 4th and 5th grade classrooms.  I love one of the four conditions that they stated made it possible for teachers to push students to extend their thinking during discussions: "The teacher framed reading as a collaborative endeavor.  Discussions were an integral part of the classroom environment, as opposed to classrooms in which reading is framed as an individual activity aimed at identifying correct answers to narrow comprehension questions."  Again, sound familiar...maybe like something that we have happening during reader's workshop?!

Interesting number from the magazine...93% is the percentage of employers who say that a job candidate's capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than his or her college major.

Another interesting article is titled "Now Presenting...How are Students Supposed to Become Proficient at Speaking if we Don't Teach them How?"  Good question.  The author, Erik Palmer, states, "Daily, we accept oral communication that's far below what our students are capable of--and far below what we should accept."

I was doing a lot of nodding my head in agreement when I read Ellin Oliver Keene's article, "All the Time They Need."  She says, "Waiting in silence for students to think before responding can, at first, be uncomfortable for everyone.  But oh, the insights they'll share!"  Keene goes on to say, "If we want students to think at high levels, we're going to have to give them a little time.  And we're going to have to get comfortable with silence."  I'll give you a few minutes of silence to think about that. ;)

The whole magazine this month is packed full of great reading, lots of articles that make you stop and think.  For me, it just reiterated something that we have already been focusing on...the importance of teaching kids to be thinkers and to share their thinking through talking and listening to their peers.  If you would like a copy of any of the articles or want to borrow my copy of this magazine, please let me know.  If you are a member of ASCD, then you can read the articles online.  If you are not a member, you can still sample some of the articles.  I will leave you with some quotes from the first article by Elizabeth City, titled "Talking to Learn."
  • "Although it's possible to think without talking--and to talk without much thinking--each can strengthen the other."
  • "I want schools to be places of rich learning, and therefore I want them to be places of rich talk."
  • "Some of my happiest, most rewarding moments as an educator have been hearing what comes out of learners' mouths when I get out of the way."
What will you do this week to focus on these two crucial thinking skills...talking and listening?  We do want a school full of lots of little talking heads!

Currently reading:
I will continue to honor Picture Book Month by telling you about some more picture books that I checked out from my local library this week.  By the way, so far I have read 144 books this year.  I am still hoping to reach my goal of reading 200 books by the end of 2014!
The math version of Rumpelstiltskin!  A boy learns the important lesson that he needs to be the one to learn how to do math; he can't rely on someone else to do it for him!

Goldfish gives a personal account of his life as several intruders begin to take over his fishbowl!

This is a great book, full of wonderful vocabulary words.  Would be a good one to use during writer's workshop.

A wonderful book that demonstrates how one act of kindness can cause a chain of events of other acts of kindness...the ripple effect that we have read about in Each Kindness!

Events this week:
Monday - Latin Class @ 3:30
Tuesday - Veteran's Day, no school, New lighting being installed in the building
Wednesday - Chorus practice @ 2:25 for Grade 1 and Multi-age
Thursday - Spanish and French class after school
Friday - Liz and Dianna will be at Prescott in the am for leadership team meeting

Great things I noticed last week:

  • I walked by and caught Mr. Wiesner doing some hallway educating...talking to kindergartners about students, that's not George Washington in the picture. :)
  • Mrs. Miln was demonstrating being an active problem solver as she read a story and came to words that may have been more difficult to decode.
  • I noticed this bulletin board display in the kindergarten wing...looks like I know what they have been talking about during reading time!
  • While I was in the kindergarten wing, I also saw one of our 4th graders being a great helper by tying lots of shoes for Mrs. Spiczka.
  • I caught Mrs. Shreve in the middle of a random act of kindness!  Mrs. Volpe had been planning to put together a bulletin board about the book Each Kindness, but she had been busy planning our 3rd and 4th grade ELA half days this week.  Mrs. Volpe was pleasantly surprised when she came in one morning and the bulletin board was mostly done!
  • I did not get to snap a photo, but our brand new Florence Roche student council had their first meeting this past week.  I heard the meeting was a success; they established group norms and began to brainstorm ways that the student council could help the school and community this year.
  • Mrs. Lanctot's class was celebrating finishing a unit of study and they each got to come up and show off their amazing reading skills!
  • Mrs. Wilkins's class was super excited to show me how they played the place value game!
  • And here is a great chart that I found in Mrs. Pierantozzi's class.  When you are conferring with students during reading or they have a place where they can let you know they need a check in with you without disturbing your conferences?
Check it out:
We are about a month away from "The Hour of Code."  If you haven't watched this video clip yet, take 5 minutes to view it.  We will be hearing from the tech team a our next staff meeting, and we will hopefully have high school students coming to help us with coding activities on Dec. 11.

No comments:

Post a Comment