Summertime for teachers is like an intellectual mooring. The anchors, ropes, and cables that are used to hold us to our beliefs also give us the time and the place to reflect on the last year and prepare for the next. We do not cast off until our charges have arrived and we have prepped for the journey. This is my second year of workshop and we have a launching unit to help us get started. In the first couple of weeks we have had some wonderful moments I would like to share. A string of moments can grow into the momentum needed to sustain learning throughout the year.
First day started with a See, Think, Wonder on this guy. Meet Rahu, the Hindu demon who swallowed the sun. His story is here. Since we the eclipse was 5 days away, it seemed like a perfectly good way to “eclipse” first day rules and procedures. The point was to hit the students with an intriguing picture while demonstrating how we do things around here. Were we practicing thinking routines that would become a regular part of our classroom? Yes, both implicitly and explicitly. After making our thinking visible by recording our thoughts about Rahu in our notebooks, the students moved around the room exploring a gallery walk on the ancient myths and history of solar eclipses. I saw relaxed smiles as the students moved on to their next class. Mission accomplished.
Then there was this. We had a chalk talk on the question, “What is thinking?” They must really think I’m weird now, but it actually went better than expected. Students did their best to write their comments down and then, as they moved around the room, contribute to the silent conversation. The sharing helped a number of students expand their thinking beyond the first awkward response (“I don’t know what to write.”) I listened to two boys discuss the big question, “Are we always thinking, or is it only thinking when we take it deeper?” And, “What do you mean by deeper?” Wow! 7th graders?!?!?
Those same two boys revisited that conversation when we practiced dialogue skills last week. How should we speak and listen to one another when our goal is understanding – not who’s right and who’s wrong? Through dialogue. Generation Global has wonderful resources that work well with students. The boys remarked that they were better able to respond to one another because of the active listening skills we were practicing, even if they still disagreed!
Our voyage has begun.