I was lucky enough to attend Google Fest this week in Lansing – thank you to my district for sending me! The keynote speaker was Pernille Ripp, and I was so energized to try some new things in my classroom after hearing her speak. (You should definitely check out her website for some great ideas on how to create passionate learners.) One of the many things that resonated with me was that as teachers, we need to hold ourselves accountable for the things we ask our students to do. That means that if I am expecting my students to take a 5 question quiz after every book they read, then I also need to take a quiz after each book that I read. (Yuck!) If they have to complete worksheets, guess what? I do, too! (Double yuck!) So I have decided to give this a shot in my classroom so that I can better understand what I am asking of my students. My goals with this are:
- To model being an avid reader and writer for my students.
- To experience how engaging the activities I plan truly are.
- To have a better understanding of how much work I am expecting out of a 9 or 10 year old.
One goal that I have with my students this year is that they begin blogging. Each week, I am asking them to blog about what they are reading at home or at school. So in an effort to “practice what I preach,” I will be writing about a book that I am currently reading. In our reading binders, all students have a copy of this Reader Response Prompt Sheet. They are to choose one of the prompts each week and respond based on what they are reading.
I am currently reading Teach Like a Pirate:Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator by Dave Burgess. I stumbled upon this book when I kept seeing the hashtag #tlap pop up on my Twitter feed.
The prompt that I am choosing to respond to this week is:
“Select a quotation from your reading that you liked. What made you pick it? How did it make you feel?”
I selected a quote from the introduction, “Pirates are daring, adventurous, and willing to set forth into uncharted territories with no guarantee of success.” I chose this quote because I think it captures some of the things that I am trying this year with my students. I want to give my students a larger voice in their education. I want to teach them that they have the power to make decisions in our classroom. I want them to feel comfortable enough to tell me when my way of teaching isn’t helping them learn so that I can try and find a way that does. I want to give my students more choice in how they show evidence of their learning so that they can feel empowered to share what they create with an audience.
I want to teach them that they are so much more than a score that they get on a test, more than a grade on a report card. They are more than the choices they make when they are having a bad day. I want them to know that failure is okay, and that no matter how many times you fall flat on your face, it is getting up and trying again that matters the most.
How does this quote make me feel? Well, two things come to mind. First, I feel energized and excited. Although we have had some struggles this year, we have also had some great conversations in our classroom. I am excited about the possibilities this year has for us and where I think we will go. The second thing I feel is fear. Fear that I won’t have the courage to continue fighting for my students’ voices when testing time gets closer. Fear that my test scores won’t be high enough and that I will feel pressured to go back to worksheets and teacher-driven instruction.
So I share this with my students because I need them to know that if they want this to be successful, if they want us to be successful, that I can’t do this alone. I need their help. That they will need to work hard this year to show others that learning comes in many different forms and it may not look the same way that it looked when their teachers or parents were in school. I need my students to prove to the world that they should have a voice in their learning, that they can learn in ways that might be different from the ways we have done in the past, and that we can be pirates together on this adventure in learning!