• Art,  Life,  Process

    Get Your Creative On!

    Left - Right Brain Graphic
    source: trend-kid.com

    Are you creative? It’s amazing how often people say they aren’t.

    I’m fascinated by ‘creativity’ – the stuff that happens in the Right Brain – the process of creativity and the gazillion ways to demonstrate it, the psychological, spiritual, and physical need for it in my own life, and its incredibly important (and often overlooked) role in learning, so I was pleased (and surprised) to discover this morning that we’re in the middle of World Creativity and Innovation Week, a movement begun in 2001 and celebrated each year, April 15 – 21, around the world.  According to their website, during the annual week,

    people are acknowledged, informed, inspired and encouraged to use their creativity – to be open to and generate new ideas, to be open to and make new decisions and to be open to and take new actions – that make the world a better place and to make their place in the world better too.”

    Curious? Click [here] to learn more.

    Then, go get your own Creative on!  🙂

    Quote about Creativity
    source: spinnabellee.com

     

    Have a great weekend and Happy Creating! If you need to find me, I’ll be in my art studio….   🙂

    ~ Robin

  • Classroom Life,  Instruction,  Process,  Six Words,  Students' Words,  Writing

    From Every Book…. Learning the Pleasures of Being Literate {Slice of Life}

    I wonder:    Who taught you the pleasures of reading and writing?  Did you discover them in high school? Earlier? Later?

    High school student writing at his desk

    In my high school Intensive Reading/Critical Thinking class, it takes a while to get students to ‘buy into’ reading for pleasure.  It’s not uncommon to hear, “You want us to read???” followed by:  Do we get a grade??

    My classes are a mix of AP and Honors students who don’t use strategies (because they ‘know how to read’) and are insulted that they’re in my class, thinking they most certainly do not need to be, and struggling and reluctant readers who haven’t read for pleasure in years and have limited knowledge and nearly no use of reading skills and strategies or critical thinking.  They’re also insulted, because in spite of their limited skills and strategies, they’ll tell you they can read just fine and WILL graduate.

    You can imagine how much fun the first six – nine weeks of each school year are for me.

    Call me persistent. I plug away at showing them how ‘normal’ reading and writing really are.

    I demonstrate the ‘naturalness’ of reading and writing every day. I share how I stumble on to new words in most things I read, I talk about current writing projects, and I find ways to tie the two together.  I tell them, “We’re always readers and writers. This is not about school. This is about life.”

    I am Chief Learner, right beside them, never assuming to know it all, willing to show what I don’t know, and genuinely excited to learn new stuff……

    This seems to alleviate some anxiety for some students, once they trust me.  But it’s a slooooow process.

    Trust me.    Really.Slow.

    In August, my reluctant and struggling juniors and seniors look at me like I’ve lost my mind, have three heads, am speaking a foreign language. Their eyebrows furrow, their arms cross defiantly across their chest, and an unknown power seems to pull some of them lower and lower and lower in the chair ~ as if swallowing them up so they don’t have to hear this nonsense.

    You can almost hear inside some of their heads, (but thankfully, not!), “What is up with this lady? Has she lost her mind, talking about reading and writing like it’s something people do, something she expects US to do!?”

    The AP and Honors students typically take out a book to read the first opportunity they get.  They seem to be thinking, “This might be the one saving grace to this class!”  The reluctant and struggling readers find this odd or just plain stupid.

    Then September arrives. A few more books and magazines are evident on Wednesdays.

    By October, most students have found something to read, even if it’s ONLY for the 30 minutes each week.

     

    Girl on desk, reading
    I encourage my HS readers to get comfortable…..

    Sometime after October, though, the magic begins……

    • Mrs. Kyle, I’ve got a book on my phone. Is that okay?
    • Mrs. Kyle, I got a new magazine. Can I bring it Wednesday?
    • Mrs. Kyle, my friend told me about a book. Can I go pick it up from the Media Center?
    • Mrs. Kyle, can I borrow this book to take home and read?
    • Mrs. Kyle, I brought my e-Reader. Check out this book!

    Finally, even the most reluctant readers find that treasure that makes me them sit still and just…. disappear for 30 minutes…..

    Reluctant reader settles in for independent reading

    With little time to read for pleasure and wanting so much for my kiddos to find that pleasure, I’m thrilled when all students, even the reluctant ones, find the sweet spot… that book or magazine that works just.for.them.

    No longer do I have to babysit or ‘police’ Wednesday Reading.  I can actually sit back, enjoy my own books (while keeping half an eye on kiddos… just in case), and model my own love of reading, my own literacy. I often notice kids glancing up at me, as if to see if I’m really reading, too.

    During a recent Wednesday Reading Day, as fifth period was coming to an end (and I closed my fifth book ~ I’m a grazing nonfiction reader) this thought popped into my head for Six-Word Wednesday….

     

    Six Word: From Every Book....

     

    I quickly jotted it down and in the last eight minutes of class, I shared it on the doc cam/screen.

    I showed my kiddos where this thought came from:  the five books I had sampled that day ~ two books on my iPad/Kindle and three print books I brought to school, telling students, “When I get bored or distracted or interested in some other topic, I change books.”

    Puzzled faces.

    I often tell them, “As a nonfiction reader, it’s okay to close one (book, Web tab, magazine, etc….) and open another when things get…… well, boring.  “And, as a writer, I’m always finding interesting things in everything I read.”

    I showed my Kindle library on the big screen and held up the three books I had been reading/annotating, flipping through pages so the highlights and margin notes were evident.  I explained that, as a writer examining other writers’ work, I liked the content of one, but not the writer’s voice and that I liked the layout of another, but not the content.  Students listened intently.

    I pointed to my reading motto on the wall:   Life is too short to read boring stuff.   Read.Good.Stuff!  

    A senior then asked, “Is Kindle free? How do you get it?” while another asked, “What’s the difference between fiction and nonfiction?”

    Me {in my head}:  I’ve talked about – and demonstrated – the difference several times this school year, but apparently, you weren’t ready to hear the message. Today is your Need to Know Day.  Welcome to the Literacy Club.

    Aloud, I once again briefly mention the differences.

    “Thanks!” he cheerfully replies. “That helps.”

    It’s amazing what we learn when we don’t assume what kids know and we teach them the pleasure of reading and writing… even when they’re 18 and 19 years old.

    Join us every Tuesday and share a slice of your life at TWT.
  • Learning

    Tell Us About Yourself: Sending an Introvert Into a Tailspin

    Freaked out at the thought of having to introduce yourself to strangers?

     

    Quiet Book Cover
    Source: http://bit.ly/1wZT1oc

    Several months ago I blogged about my BIG discovery {here}, after reading Susan Cain’s, Quiet: The Power of Introverts, last December.  What a great read!  In it, she discusses introverts in our society and society’s response to them.  She writes, “The bias against introversion leads to a colossal waste of talent, energy, and happiness.”

     

     

     

    You can see her TED Talk here:

    If you’re an introvert, you know she’s singing the gospel… Now, if everyone would just get quiet and listen….!! Right?

    What was particularly enlightening to me ~ other than discovering I’m really an introvert camouflaged in an extrovert’s body ~ (light bulb moment!) was to learn why my instructional style is so challenging for some of my students…. You know, the ones who are also introverts, but not masquerading as an extrovert.

    These guys and gals take quiet and attentive (qualities a teacher appreciates) to a much higher level, often edging closer to a referral for what appears to be open defiance because they will refuse to participate than have to talk with peers (and/or me).  Yes, it happens!  Maybe you were one of those kids? Maybe you’re raising one?  If so, might be helpful to give your kiddos’ teachers a little insight.  *Not taught in teacher-school.

    Turns out, my collaborative classroom approach overwhelms introverted kiddos ~ as probably happens in many classrooms (fellow teacher-types, take note from this slow learner!).  This was a HUGE a-ha! moment for me… during my 20th year in the classroom.  As I read her book, I found myself saying, “That explains a LOT!”

    When I reflected on how some of my classes are markedly different from others, it occurred to me:

    Those classes that require me to cajole students to talk to one another and/or me {and they still refuse} are the classes in which introverts rule.  They are silently in control! 

    When classes resumed after winter vacation last January, I was ready! Armed with this epiphany, I greeted my 2nd period class and told them what I finally understood. Poor kids.  They were visibly relieved. It was as if you could hear them whispering, “Finally, she gets us! Took her long enough!”  😉

    HUGE difference between first and second semesters, as I gave my students latitude in how they would interact with their peers (and me), balancing the need to teach effective collaboration skills with giving students a ‘comfortable, safe’ learning environment that worked for everyone.

    Electronic communication turned out to be a helpful way to get introverted students to interact.  Much has been written about the interface, including this article for Time by Cain. I have seen it first-hand, having students who didn’t utter a word for an entire semester, become involved in peer and student/teacher discussions when they could interact behind the safety of a keyboard.  Win-win!

    Things were much calmer for me, too.  It was nice to have one class a day in which the kids weren’t swinging from the rafters a quiet disposition was expected and appreciated by my students. I didn’t have to be ‘on stage’ to get my point across.  Now if I could just get my other classes to try out this calmer, more focused presence….  Bliss, it would be pure bliss.

    I’m kidding. It would be boring as all get-out!

    *Interesting side note:  My ‘introverted’ class has been period 2 for three years running. Entirely different groups of kids from year to year, yet it’s consistently 2nd period.  Wonder why?   I smell an action research project lurking in the shadows…. 

    Fast-forward eleven months.

    Last week, I read a blog post from doc-turned-author Carrie Rubin {here} about her own embarrassing moment with introversion, and her advice for those of us who develop trainings or meetings for others.  As a presenter/PD facilitator/instructional literacy coach, I hadn’t ever considered how introverts might feel in my sessions. But once again, it sure explained a LOT about some participants’ sudden trips to the restroom or to ‘take a call’ when introductions begin.

    According to Carrie, introverts are terrified to hear “Tell us about yourself…”  Wow!  This was an eye-opener for me… but makes perfect sense.  Now, when I’m plan sessions, I’ll remember to give participants a heads-up with plenty of ‘think time’ ~ to collect their thoughts and plan their words. Thanks, Carrie!

    How about you?

    Introvert? Extrovert?

    Incognito??

    Raising one (or two, or three ….)???