Monday, August 29, 2016

Slicing Ideas

       I'm slicing with the Two Writing Teachers community today. It's always a pleasure to read what everyone writes about their lives.

"A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it can be stabbed to death by a quip and worried to death by a frown on the right man's brow." - Ovid

        I've seen more than one teacher share this week that students will be having more choice in more than one thing this coming school year, where they sit, what they read, what they write, etc. And as my path wanders through blogs I read, I have also seen several write about ideas (in choice?), their origin, what one does with them, how to get the most of them, and on. So I began to wonder  how I would handle ideas? What would I say, would there be some criteria like in the case of classroom spaces, would it be reasonable? For older students, would it be good to have a conversation about what works in the classroom, and what may not? 
         I taught in a progressive school. Students had a lot of choice, but there were different expectations set, sometimes by students guided by the teacher, sometimes by teachers, with student guidance. For example, if there was a set of criteria for writing personal narratives, mentor text examination and discussions created some backing for what they looked like, and broad interpretations were included. However, sometimes there were structures in place, say, in a debate. They were researched by students, procedures set by students, and evaluated by students. I was a participant only as a member of the crowd. 



         How did I, and how did I encourage others in class to respond to ideas?  With phrases like "tell me more", and "hmm, let me think about it a minute". There were questions like "What else would you need to follow through?  Do you have a plan with some details begun? Have you made a map of the plan that considers the paths that could be taken? How will your choice impact others? Or will it? What do you need from others?

          I know I'm rambling a bit. My mind fills with questions and more questions. Offering choice is complex, and choosing is complex too. It's good when the two come to some common ground. The encouragement of ideas--new to the person, the class, the world! is what everyone should be doing. And how that plays out in the classroom can be both exciting and challenging to implement. 
          An additional point is that I often watched for the quiet ones, the ones who later came with ideas, but if it was a group, stayed back, went along. Always thoughtful, but less willing to voice their ideas in a crowd. I paid attention to that, too. What have you considered when you are supporting more student contributions to the community and to their own ideas of learning? 
           Finally, every part of this also applies to our own lives, how we support ourselves in new ideas, how we respond to ideas without a "sneer" as Ovid says, but with a big round of applause!




21 comments:

  1. Offering choice IS complex. I think one has to be intentional if they're going to help kids make choices that are right for them. It's tricky!

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    1. It is tricky, and it depends on each student as well as the community, hence my rambling. As I wrote, I thought of more and more things to consider, as I guess we all do. Thanks, Stacey.

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  2. There is freedom and joy in choice. And it seems there are always some bumps in the road at first. But it certainly is the best way to learn.

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    1. Yes! Driving one's own learning is the best way to grow. Thanks, Karen.

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  3. Thinking about how we offer choice is complex and individual. I know I change my work with every student. I think that is the challenge of if all. Everyone is at a different point in their learning career and can only take certain things in. Thinking about my students and what they need as a next step in writing always sets my mind whirling. I love your questions Linda and not just for writing. Especially, "How will your choice impact others?"

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    1. I understand, there lies the questions that keep coming, different for each student, and how does that help the learning? Thanks, Julieanne, more thinking again!

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  4. It is a master craft helping students navigate choices without it looking like we are steering their choice to one intended outcome. I agree that the more active a student is in choosing a course of action the better the result will be for all. The best choices are made when there are many options to choose from and the facts are there supporting the choices.

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    1. Sometimes I call it being a sneaky teacher, Bob. Many options is important, I agree. Because I was fortunate to teach the oldest students, they did know that we would find a way to support their choices, and that helped a lot. Thanks!

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  5. The option of choices... it's freeing to be able to make a choice but it can be tricky to offer those choices. It's something I'm still working on offering.

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    1. As the year moves along, more and more possibilities beckon, & it does depend on the student, too, how willing to learn what is important before the choice is made, etc. Thanks, Linsey.

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  6. Great quote full of truth. It is easy to kill an idea before it has a chance to flower.

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    1. I liked what it said, too, Bernadette, and want to remember! Thanks!

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  7. Are you familiar with the book What Do You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada? https://www.amazon.com/What-Do-You-Idea/dp/1938298071 This is a great post. Choice is wonderful, but with it comes responsibility--another important lesson.

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    1. Yes, I know the book, which is terrific, as is What Do You Do With A Problem? Thanks for reminding me, Jane. I don't own it, but read a library copy.

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  8. You remind me to watch for the quiet ones. I have been, but I always have to remember to look out for them and find ways to bring them in. Choice is a big idea in my room this year as we move to flexible seating. Love that you consider choice from so many angles, Linda.

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    1. Thanks, Lee Ann, finding those quiet thinkers seems so important to me, otherwise the whole community is missing out. As for angles, I could have kept going-so many!

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  9. Ah, Linda...I love the way you ramble. Choice, it seems to me, is the new buzz word. I've found that choice is complicated for both student and teacher, and I've learned that sometimes the lessons learned have less to do with content than with character. We learn how to ask for help, frame better questions, dig deeper into our tenacity and willingness to work. Choice, as you point out, is complex.

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    1. Indeed, but since I've taught this way for so long, I find it wonderful that others are considering and thinking, digging deeper into what it means, in the process and in the ending. Thanks, Tara.

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  10. Oh, Linda, I love listening in on your rambles. I would have loved to learn in your classroom. I'm intrigued by the way your progressive school is set up, and the way that students are given so much choice, but also accountability. It was fun to see what Ingrid pursued and to get a glimpse into her learning last spring through your sharing.

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    1. Thanks, Ramona, it has always been a challenge to make "things" work, but it seems to for most, and certainly was a wonderful place to teach. Ingrid, FYI, has moved to another school this year, is at a charter school that is similar in design and so far is loving it.

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  11. Your statement from Ovid supports the positivity notion and your stance as a classroom educator. Have a great weekend, Linda.

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Having a conversation is a good thing!