Saturday, February 24, 2007

SSR 2.0 - a podcast

(3/5 update: I reposted the podcast - it was incomplete here for a while - sorry about that!)

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my kids' experiences reading blogs during silent reading (SSR). I have continued to let them choose either blog reading or book reading. It has been interesting, to say the least. One day last week I asked them all about it, afterwards. Their perceptions and feelings were amazing. I told them I wished I had been able to record their thoughts - so, the next day I brought in my little mp3 player, put it on my stool in the middle of a circle of the 13 of us, and we talked about it. Here's the six minute podcast:

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Going and coming home

Three Recoverees 1
Originally uploaded by mahlness.
What is home, anyway? When I go back east to visit my parents, I am clearly coming home, at least to them. From where I'm sitting right now in the airport in Connecticut, I'm clearly going home to Seattle.

Spent the last six days helping my folks recover from a vicious flu. Mom was in the hospital for three days, and I spent a horrific night in the ER with my dad, then they got better - and then I got it. Ouch. Bottom line, though, is that we are all well and leaning forward once again.

Home is where the heart is, and I guess it can be more than one place.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Why I teach

Valentine's Day Eve
Originally uploaded by mahlness.
Valentine's Day is tomorrow. It does not get crazier nor more fun in third grade. Here are twenty-one reasons I'm still at it.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Is this SSR, 2.0?

(check the podcast that grew out of this post)

SSR 2.0aSo here's silent reading (SSR - "sustained silent reading") in my reading group this afternoon. Tried this out yesterday, and today the kids were much more comfortable, started getting into it, maybe a little novelty had worn off. What were they reading? Blogs! Who wrote them? Kids!

I'd been thinking lately how my own reading habits had changed in the last couple of years, with the huge increase in blogs, online news, and so on. When was the last time I actually sat down and read a book? The last time I flew back east to see my family. Yikes! I used to feel guilty about this until I took a closer look at the net of my reading. I read so MUCH more now than I ever used to. But it's a different kind of reading.

In third grade it's a constant struggle with many kids to get them to sit down and cuddle up with a book. The "goal" is that they latch on to a chapter book, get hooked, and want to read, read, read. Read what? More chapter books, I guess.

So my kids were (many of them) struggling to have this type of reading be a major turn on, despite lots of encouragement, rewards, and modeling from me. And I noticed that my modeling had slipped lately. Silent reading time was one of the only times of the day when I could sit down at my desk, check my email, read through my Bloglines. Feeling guilty, and somehow feeling it was the right thing to do, I've turned them loose on blogs - to read. Now this is very different from our blogging time in class. Many wanted to know if they could comment on blogs, even work on their own posts. Nope, I said, this is reading time. OK, fine.

SSR 2.0bThe classroom was the quietest and most focused I have seen in a long time during silent reading. Could have heard a pin drop, were it not for the new agey, light classical instrumental background music I always have going at this time. So, what did they gravitate to?

A few of the things I saw them reading: their own blogs, their classmates' blogs, Gordon Brune's kids, Doug Noon's kids, my blog (yes, this one), Wesley Fryer's blog, even. Those were easily reachable, via comment links or hyperlinks I had set up. And this was just day two. They are still exploring, seeing what is out there. It will be a while before they settle into favorites, and return to them on a regular basis. So much is made of young kids creating content, that I think it's real easy to overlook the positive aspects of young kids consuming content - created by their peers - and who knows who else?

I will likely not do this every day. There is still value in cuddling up with a book. But that is not they way I read anymore. By the time they grow up, I bet their reading preferences will be worlds away from where they and I are now. My hunch is it will not be cuddling up with a chapter book.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Tully's Laptop Readers

I'm sitting in a Tully's coffee shop writing on my laptop. Ethan is sitting next to me (along with his sister and Nathan) watching me write. Maybe next time he'll read from his blog...? Tonight I was very proud to hear Casey read from her blog about her mom, and Nathan read from his about his friend Allen. Big news this year is that it was free wi-fi! I hope to have the whole crew here at some point this year!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Heroes and Hopes

I have not written here for a while. My energies are with the (incredible) writings my third graders are producing. Trying to wrap a school-wide writing prompt idea around young minds that have not had the chance to experience a whole lot so far, I just posted this to our classroom blog:

The third grade scholars at have been writing a little this past week about people they admire. They’ve also been thinking a bit about what they’d like to be when they grow up. Some of their writings are about both. Visitors are invited to check in on their thoughts, leave comments, and let us know who your heroes are – and what your hopes for the future are…. Mr. A.
I hesitate to single out individuals, because all of my kids are very, very special. But for the benefit of those who are interested, but don't have the time to wade all of their writing (some are already, at 8 or 9, quite prolific writers), here are a few notables:

My hopes for the future hang on the dreams of these youngsters. They will do well, and the world will benefit from their contributions.