Friday, December 17, 2010

Traits Needed by a Teacher of Reading Workshop

Teaching Reading Workshop requires a different style than the more traditional teacher-centered lecture-based classroom. As I was reading a recent post about qualities of a teacher that enjoys project-based learning on Doug Johnson's Blue Skunk Blog, I thought of how well this fits with Reading Workshop.

Teacher traits it takes to make Reading Workshop successful.

1.  Be comfortable with a loss of control over time, the final product, and “correct” answers. If some parts of the curriculum don’t get “covered,” if conflicting evidence causes confusion, or a controversial solution to a problem is suggested, these teachers roll with the punches. They have the intellectual confidence to handle ambiguity.
2.  Accept active students rather than passive students. They have developed new rules of behavior that stress student responsibility, and have trained their principals to differentiate between active learning and a classroom out of control.
3.  Believe that given enough time, resources, and motivation, all students are capable of high performance. It’s not just the talented and gifted student who can make choices, solve problems creatively, and complete complex tasks. These teachers know that most students rise to the level of performance expected of them, and that great ideas can come from anyone in the class.  
4.  Recognize that your expertise must be in the learning and research process not just in a subject area. No longer are these teachers just information dispensers, but guides for information building students. The happiest teachers are co-learners in the classroom, especially when learning new technology tools. Students get the satisfaction that comes from teaching as well. 
5.  Understand your personal enthusiasm is more important than ever. The best projects I have seen have always designed by teachers who are enthusiastic about what they are doing and how they are doing it. The downside to this is that it is very difficult to create recipes for or give examples of specific projects that can be easily adopted by other teachers. A project, no matter how well designed, is going to work for every teacher and every group of students.
 6.  Know that any project may not  always work the first time. But these teachers keep trying.

Thanks for the reminder Doug, and for giving me something to ponder.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Christmas Gift of Poetry

Students are writing Christmas poems as a gift of writing. No gift means more than a heartfelt poem.  Students are writing a free verse poem for a family member to give over the holiday.

This list has ideas for topics that students brainstormed.

Family Time
Christmas dinner Family together Christmas Eve Special gift
Christmas breakfast Shopping Getting up early Cutting down tree
Nuts and bolts Traveling Christmas morning Special time together
Cooking together Things they do for me Hanging stockings Visitor
Making cookies :) Decorating the house Decorating the tree Trip
Baking together Wrapping presents Opening presents New Pet
Homemade noodles Christmas party Playing euchre Accidental Openings of gifts
Oyster dressing Putting up lights Visiting Family
Making smokeys Playing with gifts Waking up parents
Spicy pretzels Playing games PJ's on Christmas Eve
Chips & dip
Family Picture
Stockings First