Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"Writing floats on a sea of talk," (1970, Britton).

I went to the 2 Sisters conference, The Daily 5 in Kindergarten yesterday. It was fun and informative. I left wanting more of course; however, what I learned should keep me busy for now. What is funnier to me is after reading a blog post this morning I am not hearing the voices of the sisters but instead the voice of one of my mentors, Geri Williams..."writing floats on a sea of talk." She loves this quote.
So from there, I typed "writing floats on a sea of talk" on the google search bar, and this is the article that got me really going this morning. (If you are just interested in the part that sparked me, check out the last section of the article).
I have always included a time with third graders for what we call "reading buddies." Why not a writing buddy too! There is nothing better than watching your students, every single one engaged, with a one-on-one partner, reading. I can only imagine the amazement I would feel to watch the same thing happen with writing. DUH! Why haven't I done this before? Maybe I ran out of steam to plan it or maybe I just needed this little spark to get me going. Wow, if I can train the third graders (with the help of an amazing third grade teacher) to confer with my little guys, how awesome would that be? REALLY AWESOME! Okay, so now I am just getting obnoxiously giddy, but I cannot wait to try this out. Kids get so tired of hearing me talk, I know some of them will be moved by their buddy talking. Anything that can get a kid moving is worth doing. Oh how cute, another catchy phrase. Happy day all!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"Did you consider he might be gifted?"

"Don't go around telling people he's gifted." (Betsy)
"Why not?" (Shawn)
"Because...we don't know that...and...it sounds...it sounds like you think he's better." (Betsy)

The above was an exchange between my husband and I a couple of weeks ago. I can admit that our son seems unique in some ways. He has loved documentaries about nature and the ocean since we started letting him watch TV over any cartoon. His vocabulary is extensive and usually humorous to adults. He loves to draw, experiment and create. He can be very detailed and often falls apart when things don't go as he planned. He is easily thrown into emotional tantrums that he is learning to control but make us go, "wha??" He is complex, he is a human being, he is six, and I have a hard time believing he is that much different than his peers. I do wonder about the emotional part though, that has always been a difference, a glaring difference. The other things were differences at times as well, but they just seem like personal interests. Do they really mean he is "different?" All this thought and questioning lead me to a book, Guiding the Gifted Child, A practical Source for Parents and Teachers, by Webb, Meckstroth and Tolan. I don't know that I chose the right book to begin analyzing this idea of "gifted and talented" but I am realizing that this little question is relevant because as a kindergarten teacher I should probably know more about what defines a gifted child.
I have read about half the book so far and this is what is standing out, most of which I am finding disappointing and disturbing.
About two and one half percent of the population is gifted, meaning in the easiest measurable way, their IQ ranges from 130-200. What I find interesting here is that there are 70 points spread within the gifted category. The average person has an IQ of 100 while a person who is borderline mentally impaired is only 45 points lower, and then lower yet refers to those who are more significantly impaired. So from 0-100 points is all of us average and below and then the next 101-200 refer to those above average or into the gifted ranges. Now, what becomes more interesting yet is how this books paints a picture that describes being "afflicted" with being gifted. Wow, I never thought of someone who was gifted as being struck with an illness or a crippling syndrome, but I was naive before reading this book, and I still have a long way to go on this subject. Below is an excerpt from the book that will stay with me and hopefully help me to consider that a child who sees the world so differently, acts so differently, and feels emotion so differently may need a teacher willing to see things differently too.
Imagine that there is no other world to live in, and much of the world's productions are, in fact, mediocre. The challenge, then, is whether we could learn to live gladly in that world, with personal contentment, sharing and joy, or whether we would be angry, depressed, withdrawn and miserable . . . perhaps finally deciding that such a life was not worth living (page 26).
I know, heavy isn't it? It was also sad for me to learn that many gifted children drop out of school. I am going to read more of this book, but I think for the purposes of my learning I am going to seek out the following book as a follow-up, Building Emotional Intelligence: Techniques to Cultivate Inner Strength in Children, by Lantieri and Goleman. As for my son, parenting is hard and I need to keep learning how to do it better, no matter what his intelligence.

Monday, July 18, 2011

What if I Don't?

Pictured is the daunting stack of books on my "to read" list. Mind you, no individual is pressuring me do this, but it is what I feel is necessary for my growth as a reader/teacher. That is why I started this blog to begin with, to motivate myself to get through these many beautiful books I had sitting at my bedside, (which has grown since I began almost a year ago and they are on the floor next to my bed now because I couldn't see my alarm clock). 
Here's the thing...I look at this stack with excitement because I want to know what is inside these books. However, it takes a lot of commitment to read this much for the purpose of learning. I don't know where to start, especially since I have started many of them and not finished them, (shocking isn't it). Do I set a goal, a number of pages a day I will commit to reading? Then what if I don't? And what if some of the books don't seem to deliver, do I give up on them or continue out of respect?  Not sure I should worry about pace or a goal yet, but maybe just a little attainable goal wouldn't be so bad. Seems I haven't really answered my first question. Hmm...probably should get reading.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Are You a Starter or a Finisher?

I am guilty of being a starter. I realize to be a finisher you have to be a starter, so I am halfway there, right? Oh, but to actually finish something takes a whole different skill set. Which, I have to believe I have...like, somewhere inside of me. I mean, its not like I never finish anything. It is the "unecessary (yet actually necessary) stuff" I wish I would finish...or at least continue. This blog for instance. So, here I am again, I am going to attempt to continue. And, when I think about it, this is the sort of thing that shouldn't really have a "finish"...relief.

As I re-read this post it makes me think of running a race and reminds me of a poem I wrote several months ago called Stamina.