Archive for March, 2019

Troubleshooting: Questions Edition

March 15, 2019

It started out easy enough.

My second graders were sharing the questions they had written with one another, and to promote supportive listening I had the kids nominate strong questions for a light-hearted “awards” ceremony.

Our “Questies” consisted of 3 categories:
*Questions we’re most curious to find the answer to
*Big questions, that nobody really has the answers to
*Questions we’re jealous of because we wish we had asked them ourselves

I solicited nominations, and it went well. At least…in TWO of the three categories. See for yourself:

We knew which questions we were jealous of, or curious about, but we just couldn’t seem to nominate any big questions. Which means a few things might be happening:
*None of the kids wrote any big questions on their homework.
*The kids weren’t listening to one another as well as they could have.
*The kids don’t know what a big question is.

Situations like this always present themselves like a choose-your-own-adventure story. I’ll have to start by diagnosing the homework assignments. If there are several “big” questions on there, it looks like we’ll have to do some activities on how to be a listener.

If there aren’t any “big” questions on there, I’ll have to figure out if it’s because kids weren’t giving their full effort, because they’re not connecting deeply with the reading, or because I need to do some teaching on what big questions actually are, or how to ask them.

I do know that, as a teacher, I do this kind of problem-solving every day. Multiple times a day. Sometimes in bigger ways like this, that make me stop and think. But most of the time, I’m performing dozens of these calculations without even noticing.

And what will the answer be to THIS question? What will be the diagnosis of my “Question” question?

Only time – and a bit of investigation – will tell.

March: Blowing in Like a Poem

March 8, 2019

So many little miracles happened for me today. I got a hug from a reserved second grader. A tricky third grade class was beautifully behaved. And this morning the world brought me a seed for a poem, which I carried in my pocket and thought about through the morning. And when my fifth graders held their Freelance Friday writing time, I joined in the fun. Here’s what I wrote.

To Today’s Snow, Who Surprised Me This Morning On My Way To Work

I feel sorry for you
For coming on Friday
In March
When we were cold, and tired,
And tired
Of being cold, and tired
And people huffed past you
Without a glance,
Wishing you had been sunlight.

If only
You had arrived in October
We would have greeted you
In wonder.

If only
You had arrived in October
I would have gathered my class
To run outside,
Black paper
And magnifiers in hand.
And we would have seen you,
Really seen you
Marveling at your structure
And intricate detail.
There would have been squeals
As we caught you on our tongues
And you stuck
To our eyelashes,
Our hair,
Our not-ready-for-winter clothing.

But it is March.

So I hope it is enough
That I saw you today,
That I noticed
The delicate fluff
Of sparkle
You laid upon the world,
And that I spent a wistful moment

Before snapping a photo,
Starting the car,
Turning on the wipers
And pulling away.

(c) Lainie Levin, March 2019