The Missouri Reader WINTER ISSUE Vol. 44, Issue 1 - Page 23

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Ann Powell-Brown

The Black and White of Using Diverse Literature

Anita Lael

Reading Aloud to Children: Introducing a Love for Poetry

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Literacy is a Family Affair: Introducing a Love for Poetry

William Kerns and Betty Porter Wall

William Kearns and Betty Porter Walls

William Kerns and Betty Porter Wall

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William Kerns and Betty Porter Wall

Effort--I (Julie) am going to openly admit, the pandemic shutdown was hard! Finishing school completely online was not easy for my students, my own children and their teachers, or myself. For the students, it was hard to get into a routine of learning. For the teachers, it was hard to create a routine of learning. We could have all taken the easy way out. Many of us wanted to, yet that is not what we did. Ultimately, we did what was best for the students, and we put in the extra effort to move learning to an online experience. I personally watched tutorials, signed up for new platforms I’d never used, and taught myself as I taught my students. It wasn’t easy, but it was best, and that’s exactly the meaning of the word effort. It is choosing not to do what’s easy, but what is best. For example, inquiry and discovery education take time, patience, and perseverance as an educator. In other words, they take some effort on our part, and I (Rachel) have promised to never be a “worksheet teacher.” Instead, I want my students to be challenged at an appropriate level, and to also have real life experiences. Inquiry and discovery lessons take more time on my part, but do fulfill more engaging opportunities for students. This leads perfectly into our next point because those engaging moments of learning are far more enjoyable for our students.

Enjoyment--School should be enjoyable whether students are learning seated in our classrooms or whether they are learning from home. Both of my children love school, and the reason is because their teachers work to make learning enjoyable. During “virtual school” that happened during the shut down, I (Julie) could hear my daughter laughing as she watched the silly stretched out face of her teacher explaining a math assignment using a social media video filter from her phone. My son got the whole family involved in a geometry assignment that took us driving all over to find and take pictures of examples of geometric shapes around our town. Another math assignment got my husband and daughter involved in virtual measuring and shopping to “build” a doghouse for the math teacher’s imaginary dog. They both were so “into” the assignment, and it was a complete joy to watch! Yet another math assignment involved the kids playing card games to learn their integers! Now, let me ask, how long has it been since math was so enjoyable in our classrooms? Truly, enjoying school and assignments should be an expectation of learning for our students. It is up to us to create a classroom space that fosters joy in the journey of learning.

In closing, as we consider the year ahead with our students, we are reminded of touring a cave. There is that moment when the guide takes the group into the depths of the cave, and with plenty of warning, he shuts off all the lights. For a few moments, we are surrounded by such complete darkness that we can no longer see our hands in front of our faces. We wait in the stillness of the dark with hopeful anticipation for the light to be revealed. We hope for light to break through the darkness. This year, we have the opportunity to be the light for our students and our colleagues. We can give them a reason to have hope in the midst of uncertainty. Without a doubt, this is a unique school year with higher levels of stress for students, staff, and families, but we can combat that stress with HOPE. We want to encourage teachers to live well and love well. May hope rise up within us all this school year and spread to everyone around us.

Resources:

Burgess, D. (2012). Teach like a pirate. San Diego, CA: Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc.

DeBenedet, A. T. (2018). Playful intelligence: The power of living lightly in a serious world. Solana Beach, CA: Santa Monica Press.

Routman, R. (2003). Reading essentials: The specifics you need to teach reading well. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Sousa, D. A. (2017). How the brain learns (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin: A SAGE Publishing Company.

Children’s Literature Mentioned:

Henn, S. (2017). Pass it on. New York, NY: Philomel Books.

Palacio, R. J. (2017). We’re all wonders. New York, NY: Knopf.

Piper, W. (2001). The little engine that could. New York, NY: Grosset & Dunlap.

(Original work published 1930)

Porter, E. H. (1913). Pollyanna. Public Domain.

Spires, A. (2014). The most magnificent thing. Toronto, Canada: Kids Can Press.

White, E. B. (1952). Charlotte’s web. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

Dr. Julie Bryant, former kindergarten and 1st grade teacher, is a Professor of Education at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, MO where she teaches courses in literacy and literature for the Division of Education.

Rachel Wadlow is a graduate of Southwest Baptist University and is teaching Kindergarten in the Meramec Valley R-III Schools in Pacific, Missouri.

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