Sunday, April 12, 2015

I Hope You Never Lose Your Sense of Wonder...

Principal ponderings...

Do you know that song by Lee Ann Womack, "I Hope You Dance"?  After listening to a great presentation by Stephanie Harvey Friday morning at the MRA Conference, I can't get some of the lyrics from that song out of my head.  Lines like "never lose your sense of wonder" and "never settle for the path of least resistance" go along with the message Stephanie tried to get across in her keynote address.  Her topic was "Comprehension, Collaboration and Curiosity: 21st Century Skills that Matter."  I had the pleasure of listening to Stephanie Harvey speak several years ago when she came to speak in Westborough to the entire district.  She was a great speaker then and is even better today! She is definitely passionate about kids and comprehension.  As one of the attendees stated, she's "my kind of people!"

The first part of her presentation focused on the idea that we need to stop driving curiosity out of kids.  Stephanie made the point that our kindergartners come bursting in curious, we definitely don't need to teach them.  Think about our K and 1 students.  Have you had a conversation with any of them?  They are full of questions, always thinking and wondering about the world around them.  But as our students move up through the grades, by the time they graduate, it's like we have squeezed every last drop of curiosity out of them.  Just this weekend, I was talking with my niece, a 6th grader.  Besides the fact that she informed me that they never read in school and have only read two books this year (eek!), when I ask her about school and what she is learning about and doing in school, there is no excitement, no looking forward to new discoveries.  Has she already lost her sense of wonder?

Here's an interesting statement to ponder from Stephanie: It is not "the more kids learn, the more they know."  It is now "the more kids learn, the more they wonder."  She shared a quote from EB White which is so powerful for all kids: "Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder."  In order to help our students not lose their sense of wonder, we have to make sure that we are living a curious life.  Are you living a curious life?

Another message that Stephanie presented was the fact that content changes.  She made the joke that she was really bummed that Pluto got demoted as a planet.  Content is always changing and we have to accept that and prepare our students for an ever-changing world.  We are responsible for getting kids "college and career ready", yet we have no idea what careers we are preparing them for because they are careers that we don't even know yet...they don't exist yet.  And of course, in true Stephanie Harvey fashion, she finished her presentation with a simple statement: give kids a chance to read everyday!

I want us to help our students keep their sense of wonder.  And now I have a little being who I hope will always be full of wonder:
So a challenge for all of us is how do we keep that kindergarten curiosity in all of our students?

Currently reading:
For those of us bookaholics...last week was double trouble.  I went to the book fair and walked out with a new pile of books.  And then when I was at the MA Reading Association Conference, I left with a bag full of books.  One of my newly purchased books that I read was called Three Hens and a Peacock by Lester Laminack.  I was lucky enough to be buying the book right when the author was standing next to the display and he autographed my book for me!  Yep, I do consider children's book authors famous and autograph worthy!  Great read aloud book.
Another awesome book I read is called The Pigeon Needs a Bath.  Such a fun book that will make kids of all ages (and adults!) laugh out loud.
One of the speakers at the conference was Jon Scieszka.  I bought his book Knucklehead which stories from the author's childhood.  I was laughing so hard my cheeks were hurting when Jon spoke so I am sure his book will make me laugh out loud while reading it.

Events this week:
**Teacher Appreciation on the lookout for surprises from the PTA
Tuesday - School Council Meeting @ 3:30
Wednesday - Library Fund Committee Meeting @ 8:15, Grade 1 ELA meeting @ SU 9:00-11:30, Grade 2 ELA meeting @ SU 12:45-3:15, Abe Lincoln presentation in the PAC 9:30-10:30 Grades 1 & 2, 10:30-11:30 Grades 3 & 4, 4th grade Invention Convention 2:15, Grade 3 chorus practice @ 2:25, Combined staff meeting with SU @ 3:30 in the library
Thursday - Half day, 12:15 dismissal, Staff luncheon provided by the PTA
Enjoy the vacation week!

Great things I noticed last week:

  • Ms. May was talking to kindergartners about being "considerate"...quite a big word for some of our smallest members!  Unfortunately, this is Ms. May's last week interning with Mrs. Cahill.  We are going to miss her!  We have certainly appreciated having her help us solve problems with students.
  • Mr. Wiesner and this 4th grade class were improvising with a variety of instruments when I walked into class the other day.  And it sounded amazing!
  • I did not have my camera with me to snap a photo, but I did manage to walk into Mrs. Potter's class during the end of a simple machine invention presentation.  One student was demonstrating her machine which helped squeeze the toothpaste out of the tube.  Her motivation for making the machine?  Her little sister who usually makes a mess of the toothpaste!
  • Our half day K students are really jazzed about reading.  They see themselves as readers and enjoy spending time reading from their book bags.  If you get a chance, pop by Mrs. Spiczka's classroom and ask any student to show off their reading skills!
  • Thanks to a grant from GDEF, several FloRo staff members were able to attend the MRA Conference on Thursday and Friday.  I never managed to get everyone together on Thursday for a group photo, but here is the Friday crew.  Ask them about what they learned at the conference...I know they will be excited to share with you!
Check it out:
Just discovered this great infographic...certainly could have used it during my presentation the other day at the conference!
And here is a great post which builds on the idea of growth mindset, thinking about characteristics of an innovator's mindset:

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