Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Brief Shining Moment

The highest group of readers in my class consists of 6 girls. They are reading above 2nd grade level; some can decode complex text - that is, they can read the words to me. Comprehension as a whole among this group isn't on par with their word reading. And we need to work on reading informational text.

This week we began reading a book about everyday, freezer/frozen food, television. At the end of this particular book there is a section of new things coming. The girls latched onto one particular inventor in this section - a young woman who is working on paper to keep food fresher longer (preventing spoilage for longer time). I'm not sure why - but she's the only woman featured, so....

"Is she still alive?" the girls asked me.

Since she looked relatively young, I said, "I guess. We should look for information about her online sometime."

"Can we do it now?" they asked. "There is a computer that is open."

Five different responses went through my head, mostly reasons that we couldn't do it right at that moment. But I said, "Okay, let's go look."

The girls immediately suggested we go to PebbleGo and check. But she wasn't on there. (I didn't think she was, but wanted them to go to "their" source first.) I suggested we put her name in Google and see what we could find.

A girl typed in the inventor's name (using the book as a guide) and a list of possibilities popped up. I filtered through the responses and pointed to one. "Let's try here," I suggested.

A click and...the same woman's picture appeared on our screen. (Well, maybe a few years older.) Her invention is now a company. We talked about her invention and how it was helping people now.

I planned to do more with this book - read it together - talk about inventions - research other inventions - develop a writing project - building skills. And we'll still do these.

But I had a brief shining moment when all those things didn't matter but students did get to pursue an idea or interest and find out more information about it.

I've had some of these - but they've been very brief and few. So often I'm focused on the objectives for the week and what we need to get accomplished and how we can build skills for the next assessment and how I can help them progress toward targets so they can succeed in third grade and beyond.

I'm working on balancing all the different learning needs and capabilities of 18 students. Following and building on all those interests can get difficult...and get in the way of some wonderful spontaneous learning. (Remember those five responses in my head to the girls' request?)

But I want to have more of those shining moments - maybe not so brief and not so few and not even so spontaneous. That's when the learning meets the student.


  1. I think one of the challenges we face is that education has become the equivalent of fast food - quickly served up, meets nutritional requirements - just - but all done in a way which doesn't leave us as teachers feeling comfortable. However to "slow down" and provide the time and space for children to learn in their way seems to be missing. Lovely blog post, thanks.