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Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Today I started teaching my first Texas Literacy Initiative vocabulary routine of the year. Earlier this summer, I was skimming through Habits of Mind (yes, I really do own all these books). I decided that the first thing I needed to focus on was persistence. I see kids give up on school in the first few weeks every year. This is my attempt to be a bit proactive. 

In the vocabulary routine, students have opportunities to participate in analyzing graphics, choral and partner speaking, and writing. Especially this early in the year, students respond well to choral speaking, as they are able to talk in a safe environment. And I get goofy with it - just the boys, just the girls, just the boys sounding like the girls, just the girls sounding like the boys. I tried to get them to rap today, but they just laughed at me. 

So far this year, and I know it has only been six days, my lessons have had a meant-to-be quality. We were using on online interactive presentation to respond to the lesson. I included a video clip, something I have never done before, but I knew the kids would respond well to it: 

Not only do my students love Finding Nemo, they often compare me to Ellen DeGeneres - and that is a compliment I will gladly take. 

After the comparisons, my often-used online site kept stalling and crashing. It was an ideal moment to teach persistence, to discuss how I was so determined to teach them this lesson that I had a backup plan. They groaned; I pretended I heard squeals of joy. 

Although I think "teachable moment" is an overused expression, I will happily make connections from any lessons to the world around us. The more I can do it, the more my students will understand. I am looking forward to picking this lesson back up tomorrow and seeing where it leads next. 


Side note: This is one of the images my students analyzed to determine if it showed persistence. 

When I asked how it showed persistence, one girl made a comment about the "big ball," causing massive laughter from this class. It is silliness like this that makes me absolutely love teaching middle school. (Tee-hee-hee! She said "big ball.")

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