powerful moments in education
The liveliest discussion bubbled from the circle table today around a trio of books I never dreamed would ignite such passion. I WISH I recorded it. Note to self: Have recording devices at the ready!
The scene: 4 girls around a table holding Sarah, Plain and Tall and the subsequent stories Skylark and Caleb’s Story, all by Patricia MacLachlin. Debate and questioning ping-ponging across the table and I just sit and absorb the match: “What creates a barn fire?, wait- Whose point of view is telling the story? Look at the cover, see? It’s a charcoal drawing like Sarah’s. But don’t you remember? Here, wait, I marked it with a sticky. Here it is. Did you find out what a Skylark IS yet? It’s the title, so it must appear soon…” This continued for 20 minutes and I barely said a word. I just inhaled every refreshing minute.
My typing rant does not even do the conversation justice but I will tell you one thing: These 4 students completely know themselves as readers, as learners, and they are completely aware of their barriers. But 2 of them did not want to read this trilogy when I first presented it. Not at all.
I struggle with those moments. I live for choice and I live for making the days fun, relevant, and productive for my students. But I knew something that I am glad I did not ignore- that these readers needed some confidence building and some lively discussion, sharing literature in a way they are clearly ready for…and I had just the story. And I had to go with my gut. Sure, the cover of another book was glittery and thicker, but I made the sales pitch that, with their books? A trilogy! And who doesn’t love when there is one more episode?
The point? When it comes to deciding to what degree you as an educator should provide choice, ask yourself: What is the ideal goal for this/these learners right now? What can they achieve that I can provide? Sometimes, we have the answer, when students are blinded by glitter and page numbers. Choice is key, but scaffolded choice is even better sometimes.
So, where is the choice? As 10-year-old Literacy Workshop pros, they met each day to plan out the pages to be read, whether independently or together, they posted discussion topics and vocabulary on Edmodo, they differentiated for each others’ reading speed, and they enjoyed and shared literature. Following the journey, they will choose how to share the experience. What more can I ask for?