Tuesday, August 18, 2015

SoLSC Brave 8.18.15


Slice of Life is a weekly event hosted by Two Writing Teachers.

I found this quote in A Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord last week.  It meant a lot to me when I read it because my daughter had just finished knee surgery.  I thought about how we talk about being brave and being scared in the same sentence.

But then I found myself thinking about the next school year.  So often we find ourselves doing what we always do.  Even if it goes against our beliefs.  It's hard to go against the grain. Using worksheets is easy.  Going back to what we did last year doesn't take as much time. But is it best for kids?  What helps kids learn, reading or filling out a worksheet?  Having a conversation with teachers and peers or answering teacher directed questions?  

So even if you're scared, be a bit braver.  Be brave for students.

* Allow time for students to read everyday.  With you in the classroom.
* Take the time to talk to students about what they are reading.
* Look at the books in your classroom.  Are they books your students want to read?
* Instead of spending money on worksheets and prepaid packets, spend money on books.
* Instead of having students fill in the blanks, have them write what they wonder, what they learned, what surprised them.
* Write with your students.  Model for them instead of expecting them to do it right the first time.
* Use mentor texts to show how readers read and writers write.
* Allow time for writing everyday.
* Try #bookaday.  Read for fun.  Read to show good writing.  Read to share your love of reading.
* Try having students respond digitally.
* Remember all students come with experiences.  Their experiences aren't yours.  Don't have the same expectation for every student.
* Don't teach the book.  Teach the reader.
* Don't rush to assess.  Watch.  Observe.  Talk with students.  I bet you learn a lot.

What can you try this year?  What is something you haven't tried yet because you were maybe a little bit scared to try?  Be just a little bit more brave than scared.  You'll learn something even if it doesn't work out.

Happy 2015-2016 school year.


  1. I love that you celebrate reading AND writing. Go you!!! You are a brave writer, my friend! :)

  2. Being brave will push you to experiment with these ideas. You can do it!

  3. Love that quote. I am going to try and remember I only need to be a little more brave when I try new things.

  4. I decided recently that my OLW for the next school year will be "brave." How funny to find your post today, my friend. You are right...it is so EASY to slip back into what we have always done in the past simply because it is easy. Our students deserve better.

  5. I love this! Just what I needed to read! One thing I am doing that feels different and brave is to make my teachers desk a student resource center with supplies available for the kids to take as they need. This is a switch for me!

  6. "...be a little bit braver than you are scared..." Perfect quote to encourage us to stretch a bit as we tackle a new school year. I love your list of ways to be brave for students.

  7. Be a little bit braver! Such wise words. We can all do that, right?!?! LOVE this!!! Thank you so much!!!

  8. Any HS teachers wondering how SSR/DEAR/independent reading looks in a 9-12 classroom -- read Book Love by Penny Kittle. I and not exaggerating when I say it changed my teaching life. Great strategies that are able to be applied the following day, which I find is rarely the case for HS educators. And after you read that, pick up Write Beside Them. ;)

  9. Thank you for this post - what a great quote! This is what I tried last year (and am expanding this year) because I was afraid... http://geniushour.blogspot.com/2015/02/parents-in-middle-school-ela-classroom.html

  10. Loved this quote in a handful of stars. LOVE this post even more! Beautiful Michele I hope many teachers read this! Going to share it.

  11. Wonderful ways to be brave this year. I actually think all your points are not only teaching brave, but also teaching well. I loved this quote from A Handful of Stars. In so many ways that book spoke about being a little bit braver.