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04 August 2013 @ 07:03 pm
What we value, part 2  
I really had another topic in mind for today but then two things intervened, as often happens, and I find myself turning back to yesterday's post about what we value. The first was a post about the 32 characteristics of a high performing classroom. Here are some of the highlights: rigor, data, performance, demands,management. Then, during a brief period of internet availability yesterday, I entered into a conversation with Paul Hankins and Donalyn Miller via twitter. About books and reading. Funny how our indicators and characteristics are different from the ones identified for high performing classrooms and yet I know all of our kids perform well on a variety of measures including state assessments.

Instead of RIGOR, we discussed the CHALLENGE we extend to kids to read X number of books. For Donalyn and Paul, it is 40 in a year. For my classes, 30 each semester. I can tell you that rigor is still present in my reading list, but I can also tell you that we read some "easy" books as well. I think future school librarians need to know both ends and the middle of of the spectrum.

We also offer INVITATIONS rather than DEMANDS to our students via book talks, read alouds, displays, etc. We create COMMUNITY, actually COMMUNITIES as sometimes the populations shift from one book or piece of writing to another. Instead of DATA, we look for authentic RESPONSE, not a number but a feeling, a reflection, a thought. We ask kids to CONNECT with text to avoid the disconnections that lead to discontentment (thanks, Paul, for the wording here). Instead of COMPLETION, we look for the CONNECTION/EXPERIENCE that tells us kids have done more than simply finish the reading of the book; they have lived the lives of the people within the book (today I traveled back and forth between two worlds in the book I was reading).

Articles that list 32 characteristics always leave out one important element it seems to me: where is the HUMAN in all this? The teacher, the kid, the parent? When data and rigor appear more often than child, teen, teacher, I have to ask myself what do we value? I read somewhere today that the average 4 year olds laughs hundreds of times a day while the average adult laughs 4 times a day. How do we lose that laughter along the way? I think in part it happens when DATA and RIGOR and DEMANDS and PERFORMANCE take the place of RESPONSE and COMMUNITY and COMMUNITY. If we value books and reading and response and kids, the humor is bound to be present and it is bound also, I believe, to grow with the kid (and the teacher) year after year.
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