Tuesday, January 29, 2013

back to lesson planning

I've been working with Brynn on her letter sounds, math, and other school skills during the day, and it has served two purposes.  The most obvious being that Brynn is becoming better prepared for kindergarten.  The by-product of this, however, allows me to practice the art of teaching again, however small the forum may be.

One of my supreme passions I want to instill in my children is the love of literacy.  Not just reading, but talking about reading, and writing as well.  As a child, I had no knowledge of how to get to my grandmother's house (and we were frequent visitors with her being a mere 15 minutes from home), because I always had my nose in a book.  While the thought of reading in a car now gives me pangs of nausea, when I was a kid, I could devour chapter after chapter while riding shotgun in my mom's minivan.

Time, responsibilities, and life prevent me from reading as much as I'd like to nowadays, but the beauty of having three young kids is that I can spend time reading children's books to them.  Since I have an entire classroom library filled with awesome children's literature, I've decided they're going to be a great forum for me to help do what it is that I do: teach.

Last night, I was selecting our before-bed-book and Elmer literally fell off the shelf, as though it were the first domino in the series to help me finally get this post out of my 'drafts' box.

Elmer, by David McKee, is a cute story about an elephant who doesn't quite 'meet the criteria' in the elephant appearance department.  I love this story, and in fact, read it to my fourth graders I had the joy of teaching at the beginning of this school year as a part of a series of stories I chose that all encompass one general theme(s): be true to yourself; be happy with who you are.

I have always been a teacher who cares more about the people my students will grow up to be, rather than the scores they have on a few tests.  I can't imagine there being any other way to teach...and would like to believe there aren't any teachers out there with opposing views.

I'd also like to believe that I parent the same way.  I want my kids to know the value in standing up for what they believe in, even if it goes against the grain of the norm.  I want them to grow up being confident adults who have a good sense of their strengths and talents, and who are proud and excited to utilize them in a way that will benefit others.

Elmer realized that during the story, and...be still my heart, my 6 year old picked up on that!  We reviewed the story today and talked about the lesson(s) that Elmer learned, when Gavin piped up and said, "Elmer noticed he was a funny elephant who made the other elephants happy, so that's why he decided to make them smile when he was being camouflaged".  Maybe it's the time away from the classroom, maybe it's the fact that it was my own sweet boy drawing conclusions about a story with me, or maybe a combination of the two...but I had a tear (or two).  While Raegan (and even Brynn) might be too young to pick up on the little lessons I try to pipe into their daily lives, being reaffirmed that Gavin is taking note gives me a sense of pride as a mom, and a feeling of peace that they'd be able to keep my beliefs afloat in the event I wasn't here to do so myself.

We did an activity to go along with the story (of course!), albeit a quick and easy one.  In fact, it's the same activity that my class did at the beginning of the year.  In the story, Elmer's friends decided to each decorate themselves to look unique and celebrate his individuality.  So, we each decorated our own Elmers--without rules, input from others (even though Brynn asked me a few times what color she should use), or criticism of the other elephants.  The kids decided Elmer's lesson was "I'm happy to be me", so that's what we went with.

I love when lesson plans 'go as planned' ;)

Our family of 'Elmers'

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