Sunday, October 7, 2012

The First Six Weeks of School~ Sacred Time

Peter H. Reynolds Teaches Us to Be Uncareful and Opens Minds! 

The first six weeks of school are well behind us. This is a sacred time for students and teachers. These early days are filled with watching, waiting and learning as we work to establish routines, procedures and build relationships that will result in a community of learners.
This early journey is the most sacred and challenging time of the year. The kids and I are eager to get to know one another and dive into the year, but I know the time invested waiting, watching and learning is worth it's weight in gold!

As I watched and waited along our journey I learned that I have a few students with a closed mindset. I know the difficulty that lies ahead for a student with a closed mindset.

This summer, as part of #cyberPD, I read Opening Minds by Peter Johnston. Johnston tells us the importance of developing a dynamic learning mindset . With this open mindset learners are enabled to reach their potential and work for understanding. Learners who have a closed mindset are reluctant to try things that are difficult for fear this means they are not smart.

 To start to work on opening the minds of these students I began to pull books that would help me develop a community of learners. Learners that will embrace risk and allow mistakes to happen. I immediately thought of The Dot and Ish by Peter H. Reynolds, and then the titles just kept coming… Stuck by Oliver Jefers, Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman, Hero Cat by Eileen Spinelli, Ladybug Girl by Jacky Davis and David Soman and Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell.

One evening as I browsing my twitter feed I saw this tweet from @fablevision. I knew this would be high interest  to my students and I added the tweet to my favorites to show my class.

As we watched this short video I saw the power of the video in the faces of my kids. What Peter H. Reynolds said in this 2:39 video was having a powerful effect on my class! We talked about the words Peter used, "You must learn to be uncareful" as he describe his journey to discovering himself as an artist. Then we tweeted @PeterHReynolds.

With this I sent the kids to writers workshop with the message, 
"Be unareful, if you make a mistake turn it into something new, something better, let yourself make a mistake." 
As the kids worked I conferred with the kids who I had learned to have closed mindsets. Asking them to tell about their work, Have you made any mistakes? What did you do about it?" I was careful NOT to say, "How did you fix it?" I wanted the kids to know you don't have to fix it, you need to let it go, try another idea, make the mistake into something different, something new. As I looked across the room I noticed one of my target students sitting, looking down at the empty table in front of her. I walked over almost afraid to ask about her work. As I began to approach her she reached for a paper, I sat beside her and asked, "What are you working on today?" 

E told me she was illustrating a clock with eyes. She realized the eyes looked sick but, she didn't mean to make them look sick. So she gave the clock chicken pox. THEN E decided the clock with chicken pox should be an actual chicken! Notice the legs, beak and red on the head! This uncareful work led E to a wonderful discovery! 

We shared this WONDERFUL uncareful work with @PeterHReynolds and @DotClubConnect. The entire class was so excited to tweet an author! Imagine how excited they will be Monday when I show them the reply!!!!!!!


Cathy said...

What a great story. The conversations we had over the summer during #cyberPD had a profound impact on my teaching too. What a great reminder to find those kids with a closed mindset and begin to help them re-see possibility. I think I will be thinking about this line for a bit, "I was careful not to say, 'How did you fix it.' I wanted the kids to know you don't have to fix it. Try another idea, make the mistake into something different, something new." It does seem to be more about how we grow from it. The kids will be excited on Monday.


debf said...

Thank you for your comment. I find my self searching for new language daily! this summers #cyberpd has made a great impact on my teaching!