Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Opening Minds Chapter 4-6

     These two posters came up on my Pinterest page last week and seemed like the perfect companions to sum up my thinking about part one of Opening Minds. The word yet.... keeps echoing in my brain. 

     My three year old daughter LOVES to draw. I am constantly telling her how good she is at drawing, coloring, painting, etc. She loves to draw the same things again and again such as flowers, a sun, butterflies, etc. This week with Johnston nudging me in my ear... I started to tell her how hard she works on her drawings. She drew a dragon and I told her I noticed how she tried something new. I commented on what she did specifically in her drawings and what effect that had on her pictures. I don't have this down ...yet!

     Chapter 4 
     This was an important chapter on the reminders of process vs person oriented praise. I think I give process oriented feedback often BUT I love to praise, praise, praise to keep kids confidence and motivation high and I know that at times my praise is person oriented. "You're so good at...I'm proud of you...., etc"

     My big takeaway here is to keep my feedback process oriented and to focus on the effort, perseverance, strategies kids are showing and trying. Their effort and the strategies they take risks to try matter, and I must show the value of these through my language. In turn their language with each other will mirror my own. 

     I need to continue to use language that shows the consequences of process or effort. I need to notice small shifts students are taking as readers, writers, or mathematicians. "[You did this] and if you [tried this], then [it would have this effect]" These are the comments that hold power to make an impact on students climbing towards goals. 

     The big take take away.... I can give feedback where kids leave feeling positive without giving constant praise. 

Chapter 5
     This chapter defined a lot of my goals for the year. I want to have a group of students who ask lots of questions, think critically about topics and have dialogue with each other. I want students to focus on meaning making in book discussions and to listen intently to one another. Last year we really stopped to take notice when someone else made us think about something in a new way, whether we disagreed or agreed was not important, it was the fact that the person sharing made us think in a new way, which in turn stretched our own understanding. 
     I like the point of how disagreeing can help us learn. Johnston reminds us that interesting discussions help us think more deeply. Thinking deeply happens when we listen so carefully to one another. I know modeling how to listen carefully to one another is an important first nine weeks goal. I want to help students understand the value of listening carefully and participating in group discussions to become "critically literate".

     I kept thinking about book partnerships, whole class interactive read alouds and book clubs (reading groups). I want to use language to guide students to have these deep conversations with each other. 




  1. Amy,
    I enjoyed the posters you shared at the beginning of your post. I, too, found myself trying to talk differently to my own children and like you I am not there, yet. Your last paragraph today is hopefully what we all want to do as teachers; thinking about and monitoring our own learning as a guide to help our students become more passionate about their own learning.

  2. Amy, "I can give feedback where kids feel positive without giving constant praise." I think it is expressing what you see now and giving the "next" in our thinking that will lead to process and not person oriented praise. This is an area I am going to be more aware of this school year. Also, when I read the "I like" section and how praise is related to power and took me back to our literacy support days and how teachers need the same type of language we are reading about as adults too! We need the same type of process oriented praise to be reflective teachers and know that people are on our journey with us, not to control it.

    Thanks for a great post!

  3. You're right Tracey. I agree I need to focus on what I see now and give the "next." Great point about teachers and process oriented feedback...This is exactly what teachers need as well, including me!

  4. Love the two posters!

    And this needs to be engraved in my brain: "Keep the praise PROCESS oriented."

    Thanks for sharing your praise practice with your little one.

  5. Amy, like you I am applying Johnston's thinking not only to my classroom, but also to my conversations with my sons-- they are 17 and 18, but I wish I would have had this information when they were little ones, because I think some of my parenting would have been really different. I tried having a process, as opposed to a praise conversation, with my 18-year-old, yesterday, via text message, as he handled a difficult situation with his car (he is attending junior college 900 miles away so I am having to learn how to parent long distance) and the results were really interesting, and helped him, I think, to see himself as someone who is capable of handling difficult situations, as opposed to having to have me take care of his problems all the time.

    Like you, I want my classrooms, and the professional development situations, to be places of rich, dialogic conversation, where people really do come away smarter and more capable.

    Am wondering how we can set up some kind of format where we could share how this plays out in all of our classrooms next year…Maybe some of us could agree to host a once every two weeks or once a month cyber session on our blogs.

  6. Amy,
    I enjoyed the story of your daughter drawing. Making dragons does take a great deal of time and persistence. Home always seems to be the perfect place to practice these new lessons in language. Like you and Carol, I'm working to use them with my youngest daughter who is 17. I remember reading Choice Words and discovering that home was THE place I needed to work the most on my language. Sometimes it is just easier to come home after a long day and get straight to the point. Always learning...

    Your reflection gave me plenty to think about. Like you, I've been thinking a lot about what this means in my classroom during those times when I am not directly working with students. Reader's workshop seems to come to mind quickly as students are out and about reading by themselves and in pairs. How can I help students make these conversations more meaningful? How do I monitor their impact? This will definitely be on my mind as the new school year begins.

    I'm glad we will all have one another for support.

  7. Amy,
    Thank you for sharing your insights and reflections. We share some of the same goals for the upcoming year. I'm pondering how this book will impact my language during thinking together with books, small group instruction, and conferring. Your posters made me smile and nod in agreement!

  8. Amy, I love the posters you shared at the beginning of your post. I've been practicing with my family at home too. :)

    I need to continue to use language that shows the consequences of process or effort. I need to notice small shifts students are taking as readers, writers, or mathematicians. "[You did this] and if you [tried this], then [it would have this effect]" These are the comments that hold power to make an impact on students climbing towards goals. I think that these words say it all...we want students to be life long learners and life long teachers.