Friday, January 6, 2017

Pure Imagination



Happy 2017! 
I hope you had a restful break. I certainly did.

Bottle car examples launch our creation corner. 

We started a novel study of 26 Fairmount Avenue by Tomie DePaola. The true story of writer DePaola’s life is sweet and informative. After each chapter, we’re able to view online the events, people, or things Tomie remembered. So far we’ve seen the massive US hurricane of 1938, the child singing and dancing star Shirley Temple, and classic candies, plus laxatives. DePaola is an engaging author whose life story will help us exercise reading and writing skills over the next few weeks.


Reading highlights
Seeing Tomie's hurricane


We also read on RAZ-Kids and practiced math on IXL. Both online platforms yield helpful performance data. For example, the ability to compare and contrast items (people, places, things), sequence events and concisely summarize stories are weak areas for a few of our readers. If you elected to log-in at home, more skills assessment information would be generated to target individual instruction. Remember, in third grade, homework should not be more than 30 minutes.

But, really, what is homework? Definitions vary, of course. As your child's teacher today, I'd like you to consider my current take on homework.  

Measurement hunt


Traditional homework is mandated school activities at home. I obviously agree with the research that suggests homework does not support achievement in elementary school. I also know that in third grade we are at the literacy crossroads. By fourth grade, according to studies, students must be reading to learn and not still learning to read. Frankly, if a reader cannot answer questions about a page, chapter or book, he or she was looking at words and not reading them. All core subjects rely on reading skills. That fact cannot be overemphasized. One's school career will only become more challenging, for all levels of reader. Therefore, fluency, accuracy and comprehension skills through practice are essential now, more so than ever, again, according to the research. 

Measurement scavengers
So, it may sound like a contradiction to downplay homework and stress the need for reading. I believe in homework, but I too oppose the traditional kind. I believe in pure homework, which means reading, writing, or using arithmetic skills naturally. Please do pure homework. Ask your child to make, for example, a shopping list, measure ingredients, plan a budget, calculate kilometers, compare global temperatures, read the news aloud, tell the time on an analog clock or any everyday activity that reinforces general schoolwork. Do guided but child-led activities regularly. And, if you don’t already, model consistent reading for pleasure yourselfYour third grader has been watching you read or not read. 


Show and Tell - Grandma's Knit Ball
In addition, pure homework should include practicing courtesy,     organization, purposefulness, patience, preparedness, and boredom. Yes, overcoming boredom  is a waning skill.  There are actually countless apps for boredom and they’re all flawed. A phone app should be the last retreat from boredom.



As it is, many of us seek refuge from boredom in the small screen and so diminish our brain’s natural ability to wonder or be imaginative. Imagination seems to be an under-valued resource in our technophilic worldHere is a short article on childhood boredom that could benefit us all. Why not read it? You'll learn that doing less may be the more inspirational approach to soothing a restless child. Indeed, embracing boredom might even spark a numbed mind or settle a frantic one. It's not too late. 
Show and Tell - Harry Potter Almanac


Show and Tell - Beach Finds

Yes, that was quite a weekly thought, but it’s the new year, January 2017. 

And the crossroads to 4th grade success or struggles are just six months away (not counting summer where there could be a reading "slide" or regression). Doing pure, authentic, natural and certainly fun educational things at home will make the right turn clear. We’re surrounded by teachable moments, right? Pure imagination and reading skills create learnable moments, too. Talk with me about any applied schooling concerns noticed at home, so I can address them during the more contrived dayshift. 




Have a nice weekend, too!
Don




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