I have watched Michael’s Instagram posts about pearls of wisdom, and I was always curious. This time I asked him if he had written a post about his pearls. Good timing. He was just getting ready to write that post. You can read it on Michael’s Tumblr blog: Pearls of Wisdom Gamify Learning. Be sure to click on that link now and read the post for details about the Pearls of Wisdom. (I’ll wait for you.)
It’s a game. It’s an alternative to grading. It honors the ability of young people to memorize for a lifetime. (I always enjoyed memorizing times tables, presidents, U.S. capitals, and more. I would have loved the pearls of wisdom idea.)
I’m definitely going to try this with second grade English language learners. What would the pearls be for, though? I just finished teaching Kindergarten. For those students, some of the pearls may have been for knowing all the letters and sounds, days of the week, months of the year, and Kindergarten sight words.
For second grade, I need some advice from second grade teachers and teachers of English language learners. I have a limited time with the students, only 3-4 hours a week! What pearls of wisdom would your second grade English language learners earn?
Michael, thank you so much for sharing this awesome idea and write up on your Tumblr account. Thanks for introducing me to two new teachers from KGA. (You can follow Michael and his colleagues here: @BuistBunch, @NusKnights, @notleycrew1, @gforceteach). I have one more question, though. Do the pearls of wisdom stay with the child? Or in the room, as this photo below suggests? Do they stay in the room and students add to them as they earn? Are their names on the string? (Some would have few pearls and hanging up for all to see, right? 🙁 )
My first thought was that was a very big question. I believe the purpose of school is to save our democracy. It’s a frightening thought to consider what America, and other countries, would be like without school. I believe in public education, even with all its problems that will be fixed. I believe our country needs school in order to save itself.
Certainly communication is the paramount goal of English language learner instruction. I am teaching in a bilingual school in the Kingdom of Bahrain; this year I’m moving up to second grade after 1.5 years in kindergarten. On a day-to-day basis, my goal is much like Joy’s, to use the English language in all its facets to communicate with my English language learners. In addition, I want them to grow in their ability to communicate in English, as well as their native Arabic.
Of course, the reason for all of my teaching is a bigger life lesson. My purpose is for them to be not only lifelong learners, but creative innovators, collaborators, and confident world-improvers. What could be a better gift for today’s world than these bilingual innovators from Bahrain using what they’ve learned to make the world a better place? That’s my ultimate purpose in teaching English to second graders.
I’m in my third year of taking a photo each day. Do you want to join in? #T365Project (or for once a weeker’s try #TFotoFri)
So far in 2014, I’m failing miserably at number 1.
I recently moved to the island kingdom of Bahrain.
When I moved to Bahrain, I stopped drinking Diet Coke. Now my drink of choice is mango nectar. (I think they’ll serve it in heaven.)
Friday and Saturday are my weekend days now.
I have a birthmark over my left temple, which is always an interesting conversation piece with young children.
I buy plain yogurt in 2 kg tubs, one a week, and I eat most of it. It’s my new favorite food.
I haven’t driven a car since December. Mostly I walk–according to my fitness app, 4-6 miles a day.
I’m always happy baking in the kitchen.
Whenever I see a bag of peach rings in the convenience store, I want to buy them and eat them all. Typically I don’t.
I’m trying to learn Arabic. (Right now I’m still in the intensive listening stage.)
I’m answering a couple questions from each of the friends who tagged me for this post. Thank you, friends. It was fun to answer them.
Why do you blog? I blog because I’m a writer, not a great one, not a professional one, but a writer nonetheless. It’s a way for me to write more than just for me in my journal. Plus, the best part, I have become friends with fellow educator-writers around the world and we can share our joys and challenges through blogging.
What’s the most important thing a teacher can do for his or her students? love them
Best place you ever vacationed? One very cold and snowy December, I flew from Michigan to the Florida Keys with my 2- and 4-year-old daughters and my husband, who was going for business. The air and water temperatures were in the mid 80s, and it was the most relaxing vacation ever. It was magical.
If you were going to go out to eat, what kind of restaurant would you pick?Chinese, Italian, Mexican or New American. – My favorite has always been Mexican. I grew up in southern California, so it’s fairly second nature to me. I miss Mexican food in Bahrain. Now my favorite restaurants to go to are Indian.
Who has had the biggest impact on your teaching practice?And who has altered the way you think about teaching? I could say many people, but in recent years, it would have to be Angela Maiers and Daniel Pink. Through them, I’ve learned more ways to allow children to take ownership of their learning.
Who is your favourite author and book? E.B. White and The Trumpet of the Swan. Louis the swan is such an amazing character–full of perseverance, hope, integrity and grit. It’s a great love story, comedy, and adventure all rolled into one. I’ve read it to students in second through eighth grades. I wonder if my kindergarteners would sit still for it?
Introvert or extrovert? – Definitely introvert. I can be outgoing when necessary, though. I enjoy a good social event, but when it’s all over, I am happy to go away alone to recharge.
What is a favorite quote of yours? “The teacher is the chief learner in the classroom.” Donald Graves
What is coming up that you are excited about? Spring break. It will be a lull at school after a long season of grades, accreditation visits, pre-kindergarten testing, parent-teacher conferences, and more. In addition, there were no Monday holidays or snow days, like I was used to in Iowa — just a lot of five-day weeks in a row.
What is the most rewarding thing about being an educator? Getting to know a roomful of unique human beings.
What advice do you have for educators today? Love and trust the learners, listen, and be honest and humble.
A Song that moves you – and Why? “Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie” I’m not sure why it moves me so much, but when I was in eighth grade this song by Don McLean was popular. At the time, I was reading Flowers for Algernon, and to this day whenever I hear the song, it reminds me of Charlie, and it makes me pensive.
A Book that moved you — and Why?Wonder by R.J. Palacio – I was confronted with my own experience as a childhood bully. It was a painful and healing read. “A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us.” Franz Kafka
You: in a six word sentence – Not quite a sentence, but today it’s “on a journey with my shepherd”
Bloggers (Some are Future Bloggers) Invited to Join the Sunshine Blogging Challenge
To these–some brand new and some long-time–friends in my PLN, how about if you take the challenge?
I just finished a two-week road trip, where I saw special people in my life — my daughter — first time I’ve visited her in her new city; a pastor/mentor who married my husband and me and his sweet wife; a nephew and his wonderful bride and young son; and twelve members of my online professional learning network, including two spouses.
It was amazing to me how community happened so quickly when I was with these friends and family. I thought it was interesting, though, of all the people above — 20 are listed — only three of them had I previously met face-to-face.
As a result of that observation, I’ve had many thoughts about connections and community.
Yesterday, when we drove by the turnoff for Kalispell, Montana, I thought of a young woman from that town. I had connected with her and other new friends on a ferry ride through the inside passage of Alaska over 30 years ago. We had an amazing time with this little group of twenty-somethings from Rhode Island, Montana, and California, connecting as young people have always done. We shared meals, slept under the stars on the deck of the ship, took pictures, played games, and shared rich conversation for hours. They even had a birthday party for me with a candle on a slice of banana bread. After three glorious days on our poor man cruise ship, we said goodbye and parted ways. I believe we did exchange addresses, but we were young and transient, and the connections were lost.
Then I thought of fast-forwarding that experience thirty years. If my children took that same ferry boat ride, they would spend three days doing the same things we did. However, they would also make online connections, following each other on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat or the social-medium-du-jour before the ferry traveled very far down the passage. Then, when they said goodbye, if they so chose, they would be able to maintain and even grow those relationships at the click of a button.
These last two weeks have confirmed what I believe about online connections. Contrary to the opinion of some, the Internet does not ruin real relationships, for me it is bringing me closer to people.
Gallit & Hugh
I had butterflies in my stomach just before we arrived. I began giving my daughter and husband a little background about Gallit’s and my friendship. I reminded them about how I had come to know her. I think my family was nervous because they didn’t have the benefit of knowing Gallit for two years in online collaboration, Facetime, Google Hangouts, Open Spokes, Genius Hour, and so much more.
As soon as we walked into their beautiful home, Gallit and Johnny made us feel like friends. The butterflies went away, and the friendship and laughter took over. They were amazing hosts!
Gallit, Denise, and Hugh
The next day I got to go with Gallit to her Grade 6/7 room at Georges Vanier Elementary School. The staff was amazing. I met Gallit’s teaching partner, Hugh McDonald, in the office. Hugh is one of the very first people I started connecting with on Twitter. Their 48 students, though dangerously close to a summer break, were engaged, polite, creative, and fun to be around. They were amazing!
It was a great day to visit, as two students completed their genius hour project before school by “making peoples’ day.” Simran, Blea, and a dozen classmates held up signs that made many people smile, laugh, and honk their horns. It was definitely a great start to my day. Watch more here:
I also learned about Nigeria from a student who was doing his genius hour presentation, watched a math lesson, and enjoyed (and added to) the pandemonium of students finishing the task of taking ten digital photographs for fine arts.
The best part of the morning was seeing the students and teachers interact. Hugh and Gallit are co-learners with their students. Children and teachers can make mistakes together in this safe place. Students were trusted to make good learning choices, and they did. It was a delightful place to be.
Did you know Hugh and Gallit teach their grade 6/7 students every subject except music and French? That is, they teach ALL content areas, P.E., technology, AND fine arts. Maybe more. Amazing! They get two prep periods in a week — 100 minutes total. Those were just a couple of the differences I noticed. (I may have to write another blog post about that!)
Another delight was watching the principal, Antonio Vendramin, interact with students and staff. The first thing in the morning, he was out directing traffic and supervising the crosswalk. Then he took photos for Hugh and RT’ed about the “Honk If You Love Someone” event.
Later he was photographing all the Grade 7’s for their graduation ceremony slide show. Then I saw him in the hallway reading with a small circle of young learners. After school he was again on duty in the crosswalk as students were picked up. Next, he helped a teacher tape her portion for a music video the staff was making. I was not even there all day, but I saw so many hands-on interactions with parents, staff, and children. He is great.
When I drove down the road after lunch (borrowing Gallit’s car) to Robyn’s school, I went right to the office, but I couldn’t help but notice Robyn, pretty in pink, standing near the doorway of her classroom. She came out and gave me a big hug. No need for introductions. We were already friends–just hadn’t seen each other in person yet.
I had a great afternoon learning from Robyn and her amazing grade 3 and 4s. They went outside to read some good books, played Yahtzee, Skyped with author Howard Binkow, responded to comments from Mr. Binkow on their blogs, enjoyed a surprise–the video they made was featured on #92 Wonderopolis–and more. They are amazing kids!
A dozen educators met up after school at Big Ridge in Surrey. I met all of these folks for the first time this week. What fun to meet people I have been tweeting with, following their classrooms, reading their blogs, vlogging with, and more! Karen, Valerie, Antonio, Hugh, Tia, Jas, Robyn, Anne-Marie, Jodi, Linda, and Gallit all work in School District 36 in Surrey, British Columbia. With over 5,000 teachers and 120 schools, you may not be surprised to learn that some of them were actually meeting face-to-face for the first time too.
We drove up to one of my favorite poet’s house in the rain. Below the dam, behind the Chevron, past the green building, blue house on the corner, and there was Sheri, tiptoeing through the rain and wet grass to greet us.
She took us on a tour of her community, her school, her inspiring classroom, and the giant dam practically in her front yard.
Scott and Sheri fed and lodged us. They fed us some more. More food, but, perhaps even better, they fed us with beautiful conversation and artistic eyefuls around their lovely home. It was great to finally see my friend in person.
As we drove back to Iowa, Keith and I couldn’t help but reflect on the rich times we had with so many people. Not only did we get to spend time with our daughter, a significant mentor, and a nephew and his family, but we connected in community with wonderful people who we never would have known without Internet connections.
Regarding the movie and the students and educators Will is hoping to recruit to help, he writes:
…we want it to be “our” project as in the global community of connected educators that care deeply about what schools must become for our kids to flourish in their futures. Those who believe in some semblance of that third narrative I wrote about recently and that we need desperately to bring to scale a new conversation about schools and classrooms and learning in the modern world.
I am all in for that third narrative he wrote about earlier this month in the post “The Three Narratives.”
The way forward is to change the emphasis on student learning from “what” to learn to, instead, “how” to learn.
I’m attempting this in my classroom. I lean every day on my PLN to help me find the way. And now, I’m excited to help make this movie happen!
Do you want to be part of this ground-breaking movie? I signed up to do “grunt work,” maybe you’ll want to join me. 🙂
Read Will’s post to find out how you can be involved.