As a member of this Online Book Club, you are expected to post to the book blog at least once per week between now and July 11 -- that's six weeks. You should finish your book before then, and you will meet during the Institute in your groups to extend the discussion and plan how to present the book to the others in the Institute.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Thoughts on Chapter 2

Last year I took Reading Apprenticeship training and the following statement came up so often that I finally made it into a poster: Confusion is the perfect starting place for learning. This seems similar to how the authors describe vulnerable learning. They say, “Teachers who foster vulnerable learning create classrooms where not knowing is the norm.” However, the big thing that Garcia and O’Donnell-Allen add to this mix is emotion. Which I suppose is why they call it vulnerable learning instead of just inquiry. I love their idea of “concocting a strange and marvelous brew that blends student questions, required course content, and local concerns, often with global impact.” But as amazing as it sounds, it also sounds incredibly challenging.

My first thought when I read the section about vulnerability was the need for a feeling of safety in the classroom. And I’m glad the authors acknowledged that it takes a few months of trust building to get to the right place for this type of learning. In fact, they say, that “this kind of teaching requires extensive modeling, norming (and re-norming) with students, and ‘perpetual scaffolding.’” I know this is true, because even without the emotional aspect, getting middle school students to open up share their ideas with each other can be difficult.

A book I read last year that had a huge influence on my teaching was Reading for Understanding: How Reading Apprenticeship Improves Disciplinary Learning in Secondary and College Classrooms by Ruth Schoenbach, Cynthia Greenleaf, and Lynn Murphy. It explains how to teach reading using inquiry and social supports, and it provides a wealth of strategies to build community and get students talking and reading together. If you’re new to teaching, or not new, like me, but you need new ideas, this book is an excellent tool for putting Garcia and O’Donnell-Allen’s ideas into practice.

Furthermore, I was very moved by the author’s idea of taking on a “maker mindset.” They write, “Taking on a maker mindset yourself transforms routine responsibilities like writing lesson plans into opportunities for play and creativity…” I have never thought to frame our work that way. I suppose it is what I do, but I don’t generally think of it as “play.” Often times, in fact, it feels like drudgery. Maybe if I go into it thinking of myself as a maker, I can find more pleasure in it.

1 comment:

  1. The quote you shared here is inspiring. Thank you for framing it because despite reading it myself, that quote about play didn't hit me until reading it just now. I have always loved the (albeit cliche) quote that "If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life" and I think implementing the "maker" pose into lesson planning and teaching is a way to make the job more enjoyable and worthwhile.


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