Saturday, December 31, 2016

Discovering new authors

Recently, one of my 5th grade students has been asking me to read one of his favorite authors, Mary Downing Hahn.  I had resisted because I always thought her books were in the scary genre.  I'm not too crazy about the scary genre because I just don't like scary things.  However, it seemed really important to him that I try this book.  So, I asked him to recommend one to me and he did.  I brought it home to read during Christmas break.  I just finished it last night.  

Well,  that's sort of an understatement.  I finished it last night after having picked it up 2 or 3 hours before.  That's right, I picked it up and I couldn't put it down.  I'm hooked!  The book he picked out for me was Stepping on the Cracks.  It's about a group of kids growing up during World War II.  All of their older brothers have either enlisted or have been drafted.  They spend their time wondering about where their older brothers are.  There is some sadness.  Some of the sadness comes from family dynamics, some from the fact that there is a war and not everyone comes home.  There is also joy; joy when the war is over, when love is found and when justice is served.   This book was not scary, it was full of suspense.   

I can't wait to get back to school and check out another book from this author.   The kids have always checked her out consistently. I noticed this, but I resisted.  Silly me.  

There's Something About that Word "Smart"...

I came to my blog today to write a post about a book and I found this draft post.  I re-read it and decided I can't remember why it hadn't been posted... so here it is


There's something about that word "smart."  Today, I had a student say to me, "Mrs. Brattin, I'm just not smart."  We have all had students say that to us.  I'm sure most of the time I may have said something like, "Of course you're smart!"  I decided to try something a little different.  Instead, I said to the student, "You know, I really don't like that word, smart."  He just gave me a confused look.  I felt I had to expand.  

I explained to him was that the word smart implies a finished product and that he is not a finished product.  I told him that I understand that he may be struggling with the assignment and that's okay.  Struggle just means there is more work to do.  That's our job as students; take up a challenge, struggle, learn more and get better.  

I also snuck in a buzzword those of us who follow Carol Dweck's research are all too familiar with, "yet."  I explained that he isn't an expert on the topic, yet.  However, with more work and practice, he will soon be.  I think he felt a little more empowered after our conversation. 

We also discussed words that we liked better than "smart."  We decided that being wise is something to strive for.  All in all, this was a pretty good day in 5th grade intervention class.  This student became a little more resilient today;  and that's a good thing, much better than becoming smart.