Jumbled Thoughts

One of the things that happens to over-thinkers thinkers like me is that there are often loads and loads of jumbled thoughts all up there in my head at the same time.  I find it a very rare occurrence that I am only thinking about or planning thing at a time (is this called multi-tasking or just crazy?!).  Today is one of those days when there are many things filling the space between my ears, and so as a means to think some of it through, I’m writing about it.

This weekend means that yes, I’m “off” because it’s not a school day, but when you’re a teacher you’re never really not not thinking about school or how to make your classroom a better place for the learners you spend every day with. Today this thinking was magnified as I was attending #edcampStl (Ed Camp St. Louis), learning and growing with other fabulous educators.

As with every EdCamp experience, I left with my head spinning because of all of the inspiring conversations.  Along with the general planning I’m thinking about for next week and the coming month, I’ve got some other things on my mind after today:

  1. Teaching Artistic Behaviors–100% Choice Learning:  Today I went to a really great EdCamp session with Kelly Lee (@yogagirly).  I wasn’t really sure what I was in for (but thought maybe it was how to add more art/design into regular subjects), and then I found out it was by an art teacher and I was really more unsure (I have a good record of picking badly by the title of the session…).  It ended up being something really inspirational, and now I’m trying ot figure out how to use her ideas in my own classroom with 2nd grade.  The basic premise is that in her art class, Ms. Lee has her room broken into “studios” based on mediums (collage, drawing, fiber, digital and painting).  Each day, artists listen to SHORT lesson or inspiration (based on a concept, artist, etc.) and then choose which studio in which to work for the day.  In their plan book, students make a goal and plan for the class time, and then spend time in that studio working to achieve their personal goal.  At the end of the class time, 5 minutes is provided for reflection on the day’s work.  As I sat and listened, I tried to imagine how I could tweak this idea to include all the subjects I teach, perhaps with just 5 studios (or decks since we’re working on being pirates!) that would work for everything we do.  Right now I’m trying to decide if something based around the multiple intelligences would work….
  2. Biography as Narrative Non-Fiction:  I am not sure if I’ve mentioned here before that my team does a really cool thing with planning, and each person (there are 5 of us) is responsible for creating the plan for everyone for one subject.  I’m in charge of writing, and so I’ve had the opportunity to share some exciting things with my teammates (and therefore their students!) this year, like blogging, a new way to think about Writer’s Notebooks, and a punctuation study.  Right now we’re about to start a new unit–biography per the curriculum calendar–and I’m having a hard time getting started.  I remember teaching that unit with 4th and 5th graders and it was BRUTAL!  I’m really not so excited about 1) trying to write that genre with little kids, and 2) planning a non-fiction unit right after we did one (we’re all working on creating picture books about the cultures we’re researching in Social Studies).  So…I’ve been on the search for some fresh ideas of how to teach biography to young writers and help them be able to successfully write about inspirational characters–most of whom are probably from long ago and hard to understand.  I know that I want to include lessons on important vs. interesting information, as well as investigations into the elements of a biography as well as the definition of a paragraph, but beyond that I am dreading the whole thing! I ran across a unit online the other day, though, that explains how to write biography as a form of narrative non-fiction, rather than expository or descriptive non-fiction (which is what we’ve been doing anyway).  I like the idea of trying something new, as well as thinking about how this could be a good transition between NF writing and the narrative fiction that we’re doing next.  This could be the bridge.  Most of the texts we share with students are written in this genre anyway, so it might not be as hard as maybe I first thought…..
  3. Valentine’s Day Questions (yep, I question a lot of things….): ‘Tis the season to celebrate.  Two weeks ago it was the 100th Day of School–which I think we ended up with a great plan for–and now this week has Valentines’ Day (ok, well, V Day is not until Sunday, but we will celebrate it on Thursday).  Again, I feel pulled to do a litany of “cute” things that kids will enjoy, full of glitter and glue and hearts and fun (here’s how we decided to spend the day last year).  I’m not at all opposed to having fun (we’ve talked before about how we have fun every day in Rm. 202!), but to put aside our learning to….wow–even as I just typed that I had an epiphany….(weird, right?)…

Let me show you a picture to explain the thought I just had:


This wrapper was funny to me because it came from a friend the day after my coach and friend, Amy, had reminded me of this question when we were talking about 100th Day Questions.  Just now as I was in the middle of saying how I didn’t think it was the right thing to do to just abandon our work and PLAY, I was reminded of what I say I’m about; play and fun and laughter are important parts of the learning we do together.  So….see why the thoughts are all jumbled?  Who knew teaching 2nd grade would be so hard!?  It’s the parties and fun parts that make me crazy, not the curriculum!  (Maybe it’s me who’s the crazy one…).

Have any suggestions?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of my jumbled thinking. 🙂  Remember, it takes a village!



3 thoughts on “Jumbled Thoughts

  1. Ahhh … Valentine’s Day. The ultimate Hallmark holiday. It bothers me that this holiday is on a Sunday, but we celebrate it days before in school. Why? I teach Kindergarten this year, and in Ontario, we have a play-based program. We’re supposed to lead with the child’s interests in mind. Well, for weeks, our students have been singing Jingle Bells and writing notes to Santa. Does that mean that we should be celebrating Christmas instead? 🙂 We haven’t really put out a Valentine’s Day provocation yet, so the kids helped me set one up on Friday. I made a heart, and some kids spoke about Valentine’s Day. Students were eager to try and create their own hearts. We’re going to see what happens. If students take to creating and writing Valetines, wonderful, and if not, that’s good too. We’ve decided not to have a party. Our students really do struggle with changes in routine, and we don’t want to cause stress for anyone. But kids are welcome to bring in Valentines, and we will exchange them. A parent is also coming in to lead a Food Friday cooking activity that morning, which will be a fun change from normal for us. The rest of the day will be about play, problem solving, and collaboration, as it always is, and we’ll continue to read the students and what they need and make changes accordingly. When it comes to celebrating Valentine’s Day, I guess I’d ask, why are we doing what we’re doing, and what do the students want? If we provide the conditions for learning, they will learn regardless, but I think we have to figure out what it is that they’re looking for … the answers may surprise us. Keep us posted with what you decide to do.


    • Your thinking is always really interesting to me. 🙂 It also seems like you have more control over your classroom and choices then perhaps I do. Maybe it’s cultural (not sure if I mean USA culture or school culture), but there are some things that are so ingrained and traditional that it’s hard to completely NOT do them. Instead, you see that I try to think about how to do them in a way that best matches up with my philosophy. Even since I’ve posed this question and read your response, I’ve had some thoughts about how to “do” Valentines’ Day in a way that is inline with what I say I’m about. At this point I think I’m going to start with a question that will steer all of our choices that day, one that is aligned with what’s going on in our classroom right now. What’s the question? You’ll have to wait and see! hee hee Thanks for your help again. 🙂

      • Thanks Jen! I do have a lot of control over the classroom (or at least my partner and I do), and I appreciate that. While sometimes we try to make “grade team decisions,” most of the time, we make decisions that align with what would be best for our students (and often based on their input). I’m very curious to find out more about your question and what happens on Valentine’s Day.


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