Nothing is unpacked 🙂
In a few hours I’ll be back in my car and on my way to one of the schools I work in, Dover Middle School. It takes over an hour to get there and even though I complain about the ride, especially the last 15 miles on local highway 22, I LOVE being with the teachers and the students I work with.
Last night, collapsed on my couch, sifting through emails and watching American Idol to see who would be going home, I found an email from Matt Pool, Social Studies teacher at Dover. He has been a co-coordinator of their IC program: an issues based project, that allows 8th graders to take on issues that that they care about.
Here’s the documentary I created about last year’s experience if you are interested: http://vimeo.com/25464428
We are in year 2 and changes have been made of course. The teacher team is leaner and meaner( good thing) the sessions are shorter( bad thing), I still get to work with teachers like Matt and our Hudson Valley Writing Project door opener, Jack Z. and together we plan what might work best with the teachers on the team, as writers and classroom leaders, and then with a team of kids interested in technology. GREAT THINGS!
I am usually there for two periods: one for teacher team, and one for the tech kids. I would like to be around the IC groups but that’s hard, a very early morning ride and there’s a long break before the other sessions. But’s that’s another story.
Matt has had many ahha’s when it comes to his writing in our time together and he continues to be open to new literacy strategies I carry in my bags to share with the teacher team. He digests and then take into his classroom and all I have to do is grab up my video camera and capture his work, like today.
A few weeks ago I shared Sheridan Blau with the group and Matt took the workshop and ran with it at breakneck speed :). I remember when I first read Blau’s Literature Workshop and felt frustrated that I didn’t have a class to share it with. But as a teacher consultant, I have new opportunities 🙂
Blau believes that teachers must let kids take on difficult texts, rather than having teachers make it easy for them. Of course!
First kids work on a piece individually, identifying what they understand and are drawn to in the text and then what questions arise for them. Then they share in pairs, sharing what they know and what they wonder about. And then they move to groups of 3 or 4. When everyone gets to a full class discussion they have worked on this tough selection at least three times. The teacher has been moving around the room listening and asking questions.
Now in the larger group, the conversation continues. Blau is always interested in encouraging all opinions, especially where there’s ambiguities forcing all positions to be respected and supported. I was in love with Sheridan Blau when I finished reading the introduction to the book and my good fortune as a member of our writing project, was in the opportunity to meet Sheridan, given that he’s been with a key player of the national writing project since its early days and friends in my network knew him. We hosted him as the keynote for a literacy workday sharing his work with many teachers in our service area. What a day!
BTW, he is now a working at Columbia Teachers College 🙂
So my camera batteries are juiced up and I can’t wait to see what Blau looks like in Matt’s 8th period class today even though I’ll curse as I take the ride and get stuck behind a truck refusing to move faster than 20 miles an hour. Oh well, it’s worth it.
More details to come but first breakfast with my Hudson