…answering “a call to action”…

so, as the whole teacher blog is still super-new to me, i am just starting to feel my way into the whole “blogosphere”-hey-nonny-nonny.

with the edublog nominations came a killer list of people who are fierce, committed educators, striving daily for excellence–not for monetary purpose or even an administrative nod–just doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do (and not settling for the culture of mediocrity we seem to find ourselves drowning in academically, culturally, politically, and otherwise). consider these folks the philosopher-kings of the classroom. if your children are lucky enough to experience education at the hands of people like this, then they are blessed. personally, i feel the best educators have, well, think of the kiss of Glinda the Good Witch…a call, a sign, a seal, an unction…whatever, my point is that (i’ve found) many of the best educators are those who feel it in their bones, in the bones of their bones. it is what they do. it is who they are. it is the role they were meant to play.

among other topics that i’ve read lately was one that cried out for “a call to action“–basically the idea that we are all sitting on truly excellent ideas and game plans and solutions and answers, but for whatever reason, we aren’t showing our cards, so to speak.

as i primarily (right now) work with jk-kindergarten, i am limited as to what is of the most value to others. i mean, i can tell you it is my experience that you model everything, no matter how small, that you never confuse procedures with rules, that you make time for each child individually each day, that you remember ultimately it is about creating life-long learners who feel good about school, and always always always it is about THEM not about YOU. but i have a feeling i’d be preaching to the choir.

whether my preschool musings transcend from pint-sized learners to high schoolers is rather unknown to me. so let me offer something else, something a little more mid-range.

i have worked with other grades, so i’m throwing down a fifth grade (at least here, in chicago, in public school) introduction to ratio, percentage, and proportion. (intro to proportional reasoning) the students i taught this to LOVED it and produced some pretty great results…i think the challenge and temptation with math sometimes tends to be, “well, it’s math, they either know the answer or they don’t. it’s either right or wrong. just give ’em some rote, some worksheets, some flashcards, hey, maybe even a little hands on with the ‘ol unifix cubes (ooh, progressive, non?)…” again, everything we do, i think, needs to service what students are thinking and why…hopefully it is employing more than one modality (are you just lecturing up there? only one modality being served…boo. lecture with pictures, words, colors, sounds, engage students to move around and participate–you must get as many little fishies in your net as possible with one swoop!)

5th-grade-proportion-ratio-intro-transparencies.doc

5th-grade-proportion-ratio-worksheet.doc

(i should mention this can be done in the urban school, you know, the one with an overhead that you borrowed from the teacher down the hall and projected onto the bedsheet you’ve tacked on the wall where a projection screen would go…)

personally, i always have been and always will be more interested in HOW my students are thinking and WHY they are thinking that way. i give a lot of leeway for those who can justify their conjecture–you may not have the “right” answer, but if you can explain and defend and justify the one you do have, then there is validity in the higher-level thinking taking place. ultimately, i’m interested in students who think for themselves and are rewarded intrinsically with the virtue of understanding, understanding both academia and themselves.

2 thoughts on “…answering “a call to action”…

  1. Neat! Teaching through literature seems like a great way to engage kids on a level deeper than just the “facts.” I know it worked great with my kids when I was homeschooling, and I see enthusiastic responses from them when similar approaches pop up in their classes now.

  2. Trina,

    thanks for the comments…there are so many great children’s books out there, it’s rather a shame NOT to use them…handy tool, you know? for classrooms that have ELMO projectors, you can even read a book and project it onto your big screen with an ELMO, making it really easy for all to see and participate in.

    i’ve always found books to be a great way to build a lesson or unit. i’m glad you’ve found success with this approach as well! any favorites you’d like to share?

    all the best,
    amy

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