… fun, engaging, hands-on, and conversational.

Intentionally teaching literacy is important. Unintentionally teaching literacy is also important.  What do I mean by unintentional – in a way that allows more freedom for students and you more time to observe what they know through listening and speaking.

There is tremendous pressure to instruct every minute.  Where is the research on constant time on task?  Where are the outcomes that point in the direction of optimum success when you apply continuous pressure to academics?

I worked in a district where the play, the joy, and the creativity of education was slowly sucked out each and every year. Afterschool and lunch time programs (why would you take a student’s lunch time away for more academics?) to shove more testing prep into the already drained brains of overworked students.  The result –  extend the school day.  This district has not seen any benefit to the colossally misled thinking that extra time on task equals better academic performance.

I propose to you that you find fun, engaging, hands-on, and conversational ways of instructing, whenever possible because the default will always be your voice speaking with the expectation that your students are listening and will simply apply your instructional words to the task.

The best elementary educational experience I had was 5th-grade science camp.  Do you want to know why? I was free to learn not required. I have strong memories of the activities, catching salamanders, walking to the “mess-hall” with my friends and discussing the day’s events, drinking bug juice, learning to tie knots efficiently, collaborating with my classmates on hikes, asking questions with curiosity among the trees and streams.

While it may not be possible to have this every day, why not seek moments, especially this spring.  Work in minutes where you go outside and collect rocks, count them, stack them, discuss balance; how to get the rocks to balance. Climb rocks if possible – could you get to a nearby playground or take a quick field trip? Bring the mandatory worksheets if you have to – but get outside and allow for some unintentionally drinking in of knowledge through nature, space, and organic conversation.

Today I’m including pictures from a recent exploration. This is a nearby playground with rocks for climbing. While there, it occurred to me if climbing rocks is not possible – to collect rocks instead – all kinds of learning could take place with rocks. Some mentioned above.

Enjoy your instructional day and your students will too.  Particularly boys who crave movement – allow for the movement and get outdoors for some extra minutes!

Literacy instruction is comprised of listening, speaking, reading, and writing.  So often the former two are forgotten and undervalued. When is the last time you listened to your students? – just listened without responding or reacting?  When is the last time you observed your student’s speaking? – observed their vocabulary, storytelling, information knowledge

Simultaneously infuse your library with books from the library on all things rock-related!

Follow me on Instagram for active engagement ideas for your school day – @educatoronfire

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