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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Teaching is a fine art and is based on the teacher's knowledgge of how students learn. Following is an excellent article on the feedback. Enjoy!

The Big Fresh Newsletter from Choice Literacy
October 25, 2014 - Issue #405

Learning Spaces
Memories aren't stored in the head or the heart or even the soul, but in the spaces between any two people.
                                                             Jodi Picoult

I had the privilege of collaborating with a literacy coach recently. At the end of several days together we were chatting about what we noticed and next steps. Heidi, the instructional coach, summed up her observations by noting that in my coaching and teaching I "create spaces for learning." I have not been able to stop thinking about these words since she shared them with me.
When I asked her to explain what she meant she added, "I notice you tend to begin by modeling something, setting up a situation, asking a question, or sharing an observation. Then you back off and leave the learner, whether it be a teacher or a student, the space to practice, reflect, and think."  She continued, "This space is important because it allows the learner to make sense of what they are doing and gives the teacher an opportunity to observe, assess, and understand where the learner is in the process. It makes the process more authentic to both the learner and the teacher. The learner is more prominent in the instructional process; it feels more productive and respectful."
I love this idea of "creating space for learning." It invokes an image for me that includes time, response, differentiation, and openness.  Space can be defined in terms of the physical area and in terms of freedom. Space gives room to make decisions, change direction, affirm, or reject. Space is something I realize I need in order to learn, and maybe that is why I offer it when I teach.
I don't think I was making a conscious decision in creating space, but now that I am thinking more about it I do realize this is how I learn. I need to think about things for a long time before I can own them. I take time when I am driving, running, or writing to create space in which to ponder new ideas. I am not someone who can read or hear something and then immediately champion the idea. I need to understand it in relation to my beliefs as an educator. I need to question the research, consider the point of view of the author, and talk out my ideas with colleagues. Space gives me the time and freedom to do this thinking and to make connections between what I know to be true and new ideas.
Space sends a message to the learner: I am inviting you in and I want you here. I am thankful to Heidi, who pushed my thinking by sharing her observations with me. Now that she has pointed it out, I want to hold myself accountable to it. In the words of Maya Angelou, &qu ot;Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better."

This week we look at peers supporting each other in classrooms. Plus more as always -- enjoy!
Clare Landrigan
Contributor, Choice Literacy

Clare Landrigan founded Teachers for Teachers with Tammy Mulligan. She spends her days helping educators from New England and beyond do the hard, thoughtful, and rewarding work of improving schools for young readers and writers. You can read their latest thinking at their Perspectives blog.

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Ann Marie Corgill has suggestions for Building Peer Conferring Skills in the Primary Grades in this article from the archives:

Mix It Up at Lunch Day from Teaching Tolerance is celebrated this week on October 28. It's a wonderful way to build new connections, respect, and friendships among children and adults:
Pernille Ripp has excellent tips for How to Make Your Anti-Rewards Philosophy Fit in a Pro-Rewards School:
Last chance to join Franki Sibberson for the Text Complexity in Grades 3-5: Minilessons, Nonfiction Text Sets, and Independent Reading online course October 29 - November 9.  The course includes three on-demand webinars, a DVD, Franki's book The Joy of Planning, and personal response from Franki tailored to your needs on the class discussion board. Click on the link below for details:
The new online course Supporting Teachers in Writing Workshops: A Course for Literacy Coaches with Ruth Ayres runs November 7-18. The focus is on conferring, record-keeping, and helping teachers at their point of need. Click on the link below for more details:
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