It dawned on me–I’ve been blogging with Reading Ambassadors in 3-5, hearing insightful plans from third grade book room volunteers, visiting my kinder friends during writing and revisiting my first graders during snack–all over our building, little people are doing BIG things.
We’ve turned the calendar page into October and our kindergarten writers are embarking on their very first writing unit. They spent a few weeks acclimating to school and learning how to form letters. When I stopped by yesterday afternoon to say hello and borrow a smile, one friend asked, “Why are you here now?”
Another declared, “You should come when we’re writing! We can write quietly all by ourselves for fifteen minutes.” (I’m not even kidding. Those were his words) And when I suggested that I’d love to come see that in action, he replied, “It’s in the morning, you know.”
So this morning I brought my own smile and arrived just before their teacher sent them off with a mission to write. On her signal, fourteen little bodies leapt up into line for their new booklet. They carried it proudly to their tables, standing tall, backs arched just a little. Most of them settled quickly and quietly into sketching their plan, and I voiced over how impressed I was about that (as a gentle reminder to the few who needed to notice the models around them).
I settled in next to many of those writers across the following minutes, asking what they were writing about, commenting on the story I was seeing in their pictures, occasionally reminding them of a tool in the room for finding the words they wanted. I was simply there to marvel at how much they’ve grown as kindergarteners and writers since I spent the first two weeks with them.
The chime sounded and twenty-eight hands lifted in the air. It sounded again and they folded together in front of proud writers. I took a moment to marvel with and at their teacher as they packed up their writing folders.
Grinning, I headed off to first grade.
I tiptoed in from the back of the room during partner reading and curled up alongside a partnership. Soon their chime sounded and the teacher’s voice called them to the carpet. I stayed to visit as they transitioned to snack time. It was a selfish choice. I hadn’t been standing long when my customary hug came along.
Generally, snack time hasn’t been a focus for me. As a coach I try to maximize the time I have during instruction–popping from one room to the next while reading and writing are in action. But I’d noticed something about snack time in this room on previous visits.
As each child finished eating, he would walk to the library for an interest book (even though it wasn’t just right), she would pull out scissors to cut the traced hand, they would stage a read aloud in the book nook. All over the room these little people were making big choices. With no visible direction from the teacher, they pursued their own interests. That’s impressive and exciting enough on their own. But what I saw was both contagious and collaborative. When Z opened his book, E wandered over to share in the reading. When A was cutting out her handprint, K decided to trace hers too and make it a note for someone at home. J orchestrated a read aloud that engaged almost half her classmates.
For these children, school is still a place where they use what they know to do the things they care about. My heart grew three sizes today.
Contemplating a morning of wonders, I thought back to before school when fifteen students arrived early on a chilly fall morning to write…because they wanted to. The second session in the blogging workshop had many of them completing their first posts and publishing them to kidblog.
Excitement rippled through the entire 3rd grade contingent when I showed one how to share her Google draft with her tablemates. It erupted when I showed her how to share so that they could comment. The de facto boys’ table overheard the girls’ table and came to investigate. Soon, they too, were sharing to the whole group.
It only got better. We shared the Kidblog platform with the group. Suddenly, they can share beyond the table or the room! And they’re hungry for it. For some that meant hitting publish before checking for pesky details like capital letters. For others it meant an agonizing double-rechecking of every punctuation mark. They’re eager for their voices to be heard–for their words to be seen. Some are talking directly to authors. (Imagine their surprise when we tweet it directly to that author!) Others are admonishing the rest of us to be kind to others who may be different.
I got more good advice yesterday. It was most surprising because I wasn’t expecting it.
The 3rd grade book room volunteers met for the first time. I was expecting to tell them what sorts of projects I had in mind for the book room and how they could help.
Instead, Adam told me.
Very politely, Adam pointed out several (completely legitimate) things that need to be taken care of.
“Those labels are pretty good,” he comforted, “but it would be even better if they were bigger. You might even decide you want to add pictures of some book covers from that section so readers know what they might find there.”
Yeah. He has a future running conferences.
“What are you planning to do with those clipboards for book sign outs?” he asked. Almost immediately he added, “You could probably hang them on hooks up there over those shelves. That would be out of the way, but kids could still reach.”
You have a point, sir. Noted: add hooks to my Amazon cart.
I imagined these volunteers would be extra hands, but would need careful guidance. Forget that. They have a vision. I’m going to provide the tools they need and get out of the way!
How cool is it that they’ll be here for another two years? If they’re taking ownership of the space at the beginning of 3rd grade…what could they accomplish by the end of 5th?!
These little people are doing big things and it makes my heart happy.