Duck into Third Grade

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Top Five Christmas Treats

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Twas the week before Christmas break and all through the school,
some distracted children were attempting to break every rule,
Thank goodness for the magic of reading, it carried us through
those difficult days of waiting for you know who…

Silver Packages was a jewel indeed,
the class sat spellbound and listened to me read,
Night Tree
kept their attention as well,
Eve Bunting had a fabulous story to tell,
Little Match Girl, a classic that encourages empathy x 10,
the class made connections again and again,
Mr. Willowby
helped to lighten the mood,
in this rhyming book we meet many a resourceful dude,
Too Many Tamales was a treasure for sure,
these books were the ultimate cure,

We also memorized A Visit from St. Nicholas and performed it many times without delay,
This narrative poem taught the class persistence as they practiced day after day,

In the blink of an eye the party day was here,
with a final performance for their parents so dear,

Then they played Christmas Scattergories and Taboo,
Then holiday good-byes were said crying boo hoo!

Finaly the time for rest, reflection, and rejuvenation is here,
Merry Christmas to all and Happy New Year!!!


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Who IS Doing the Work? Scaffolding vs Carrying

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Teachers tend to talk and talk and talk. Why? We know we can’t learn anything by talking. What should we be doing? LISTENING! Step back and listen…listen to your kids intently and get ready to learn LOTS of things.

Hector was a shy little guy that taught me it was okay to read tough books. Somehow he managed to plod through all of Avi’s Poppy series only because his desire was on fire. I wanted to suggest an easier read but he was in love with Poppy and he would have no substitutes. I was blessed to watch him evolve as a reader. Thank you, Hector, because of you, I will let my students grapple with texts they are passionate about.

Mandy was a struggling disinterested reader until she got hooked on Cam Jansen mysteries which jump started her reading! She taught me that it was possible to be a lopsided genre reader and still get advanced on the state assessment! She had been filling in her genre boxes at a snail’s pace but Can Jansen saved the day! Thank you, Mandy, because of you, I will let kids explode the genre box of their choice, an expert is a good thing to be.

Andrew was a voracious reader but he read easy texts and never pushed himself. He loved reading but he was a pajama reader, comfortable was his code. He taught me if a reader is reading, let them read. Was it easy, NO! Did I introduce many various texts in class, YES! Thank you, Andrew, for reminding me that choice is vital! Extremely tough lesson for this teacher to learn.

Burkins and Yaris have written a fantastic book! They remind teachers that there is a big difference between scaffolding and carrying students. Carrying is often done by conscientious educators every day when we do so much prompting and reminding students don’t even have to think. The result is learned helplessness, which does not help prepare kids for the real world. A talented cook adds just enough salt to make a tasty dish, we need to give just the right nudge to inspire our students toward success. We must let learners do the work because we do not want to deprive any student the joy that comes from learning something new. Burkins and Yaris call this the Grandmother method, “Wow! How did you do that?” followed by “What will you do next?”

Knock Knock My Dad’s Dream for Me by Daniel Beaty is a mentor text that illustrates why we don’t want to do too much for our kids. This is a beautiful story about a boy struggling to deal with his father’s absence. He doesn’t give up even though times are tough. The author’s note is powerful! Kids must be problem solvers in life, literature provides a safe place to practice!


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Open Wide

Dentist

A trip to the dentist should not cause shaking in shoes and perspiring palms but alas a simple cleaning sets off uncontrollable alarms inside me that cannot be squelched. I have found something that makes this ‘ordeal’ much more bearable. I plan something fun to do afterward, meet a friend for coffee, go to a bookstore, etc. Does this victory bribe abate the fear? Not entirely, it does however give me something to ponder on instead of focusing on the scrape, scrape, scraping of metal against teeth.
I use this with my class all the time. After we do something painful, say a benchmark, we will do reader’s theater, an extra science experiment, or an art project. Life is filled with the good,(a child’s giggle, rain on a tin roof, a smile), the bad, (flat tires, leaky plumbing-my last time to mention this, seriously, trips to the dentist) and the ugly (state assessments, broken promises, snarky comments). I’m going to focus twice as much on the good (microscope it) and put much less energy on the other.