Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Opening Minds Part 3
Today marks the third part of our blog book chat around Peter Johnston's newest book, Opening Minds. It's available from Stenhouse for 20% off right now in case you don't already have it.
Peter is also the featured author on Stenhouse's Blogstitute this week and writes about the impact of reducing instruction time while increasing engagement. Lots to ponder!
Our conversation started at Cathy Mere's Reflect and Refine blog. It continued in week two over at My Primary Passion with Jill Fisch. This week, I'm hosting our reflections on the final chapters of the book. We'll also have a Twitter chat on Thursday, July 26th. You can also find a cumulative collection of our posts on Jog the Web, too (Thanks, Cathy!)
My thoughts on chapters 7-9...
"That's distracting to me, so would you please stop?" (p. 87)
Such a simple statement, yet it's so... extraordinary. Isn't this how we'd want our students to talk to each other? I had to read and reread the "Social Reasoning, Caring, and Social Action" section (on pages 87 and 88) several times. And then I had to stop. And I immediately fired off a text to Nicole. So, you know that calendar I mentioned in last week's post? Yeah. Well... up until I read this section and talked more with Nicole, I was still using it. My reason? It was a way to communicate daily with parents about their child's behavior. Behavior. As in, did they comply with what I wanted them to do? That is so not the environment I want to have in our classroom! I truly want it to be all about learning how to get along and problem solve together. I want us to be able to respectfully ask someone to stop doing something. I want us to be able to work our way through problems and not "punish" by taking away a stamp on that stinkin' calendar. When problems arise, I plan to confer with the child (like I've been doing all along) and together, come up with a plan for how we are going to tackle the issue... together. We'll continue to use class meetings as a way to practice and plan for problem solving as well. And no more discipline calendars.
"Individual minds are nurtured in the conversations - the interactive thinking - of the community." (P. 96)
Reading all of Johnston's evidence for why this is true led me back, yet again, to thinking about this professional development opportunity we've all chosen to share. Many of us have said our thinking has been challenged, pushed, extended so far beyond what it would have been if we had read Peter's book on our own. Standing alone, the book is incredible. The book and a bunch of minds thinking about the classroom applications of Johnston's work... incredible times 100. Being able to share my thinking with Twitter friends on a range of topics deepens my thinking, expands my thinking, and sometimes, changes my thinking. Wouldn't we want opportunities like this for our students? The answer for me is a resounding yes.
So through this whole book, I've been thinking about how I can foster these conversations and opportunities in my first grade classroom. I know that I don't have all of the answers yet, but I have more questions and resources for how we're going to get there!
A few specifics I'm pondering...
*spending more time sitting in a circle rather than in an "audience" formation
*providing more time for exploring (with our reading, writing, math, and nonfiction studies)
*different ways in which we can recommend books to each other
*finding ways to connect more with people outside of our classroom
*rearranging the classroom to foster more collaboration
*being even more deliberate in choosing books to be shared during our "thinking together with books" time
"Jesse's question is the lever that makes the shift from 'reading for meaning' to 'reading for meaningful action." (p. 123)
If you haven't read Ellin Keene's newest book Talk About Understanding, it is one that I highly recommend. In it, she details her "Outcomes of Understanding" as a means of rethinking comprehension instruction and a way to foster deeper thinking. As I read the quote I listed above, my mind immediately went to Ellin's Outcomes. One of these is that deeper thinking is evidenced by wanting to take action based on something we've read. There are so many overlaps and so much similarity between Peter and Ellin's findings. It truly makes me believe now is the time to move forward with making the changes necessary to ensure that our students are getting the time they deserve to dig deeper, talk more, and share their findings, while I practice "channeling my inner Silent Bob," as Tony so brilliantly put it! :)
The conversation continues...
Thursday, July 26th at 7 p.m. CST on Twitter
After speaking with Peter, he is going to do his best to dive in to Twitter and possibly join us for a part of the conversation! He has already been peeking in on the conversation and reading some of our posts. :)
Wednesday, August 1st at Carol's Corner
Thanks to Carol, we've extended the conversation by a week for anyone who is interested! Carol volunteered to host on her blog, Carol's Corner. We'll use Wednesday, August 1st for posting final reflections, cheat sheets, thoughts after the Twitter chat, and whatever else you'd like to include.
Thanks again to everyone for making this event such an incredible learning experience!
Participating blogs this week... (check back as I'll be adding to this list!)
*Tracy from Thinking Stems speaks to the power of connections in her post Opening Minds...Cyber PD... Part 3.
*Maria from Teaching in the 21st Century reflects on what's been going well in her classroom and some things she'd like to work on as she begins thinking about the new school year in her post Opening Minds Ch. 7-9.
*Dawn from Literacy Toolbox encourages us to think about how we can make each moment count in her post #CyberPD - Opening Minds: Using Language to Change Lives by Peter H. Johnston.
*Suz from Heart of a Teacher challenges our thinking with some big questions in her post #CyberPD Opening Minds Chapters 7-9.
*Jill from My Primary Passion shares her goals for the upcoming school year in her post Learning to Talk, Talking to Learn: Opening Minds Chapters 7-9.
*Val from The Sensibly Savvy Teacher discusses the importance of taking the time to listen and to notice things in our classrooms in her post The Power of Listening - #CyberPD Part 3.
*Cathy from Reflect and Refine shares her insight to how she establishes a learning community in her first grade classroom in her post Building a Learning Community: #cyberPD Part 3.
*Michelle from Literacy Learning Zone emphasizes how she plans to "use language to change lives" in her post #cyberPD: Opening Minds - Part 3.
*Carol from Carol's Corner reflects on events in the past week to help explain her thoughts in her post Cyber PD - Opening Minds.
*Kim from Learning Tour Writing Stop gives us a glimpse into her new discipline plan in her post Thinking About Behavior and Discipline.
*Amanda from Snapshots of Mrs V thinks about how Johnston's book will impact her work with students in her college courses in her post Opening Minds: Chapters 7-9.
*Amber and Lisa from focUS: Clarity through Collaborative Research share their newest thoughts (and titles) about social imagination in their post Thinking Together About Books: Building Social Imagination.