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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Opening Minds-Parallels and Intersections


Opening Minds…Parallels and Intersections
I have learned so much through reading only the first 4 chapters of Opening Minds…hoping to finish the book soon.  As soon as I began reading the book, I started making connections to other professional development training that I’ve had during the last 2 years of my work as a literacy coach.  I was curious to find the Latin root for the word dialogic (I have had some p.d. on how Greek and Latin roots can help students develop a stronger vocabulary) “dia”-meaning through and “log”-meaning thoughts, words, speech (learning through thoughts, words and speech)…

An understanding that I take away from the book is that learning occurs through every voice-everyone has a voice, everyone matters!
I started making parallels to the words of Johnston in Opening Minds and background training on the Principles of Learning from IFL, Pittsburgh.  Here is a link to those principles of learning (Principles of Learning).  The two principles I made connections with are Socializing Intelligence and Accountable Talk.  I noticed from our study of Socializing Intelligence that there were references and articles about the work of Carol Dweck, just as in Opening Minds.   Getting across to our students that they accomplish more because they work hard (not just because they are smart)will be important.   Students need  to understand that their intelligence can grow and change by the amount of effort they put into their learning (given the right conditions).
Additionally, many of the phrases for learning that have been suggested by Johnston and compiled on a “cheat sheet” in google docs (great idea) also reminded me of the “accountable talk” work that’s been done with our students.  Like the cheat sheet, phrases for reference can be posted in the classrooms where students are working at increasing talk that is accountable (to appropriate knowledge and rigorous thinking).  The IFL has trademarked the “accountable talk” phrase as their own and here's a link to discover more about “accountable talk” resources offered through the IFL.  What I noticed about using the phrases from Accountable Talk or phrases to use from Opening Minds is that having them posted in the classroom as a point of reference for all students as well as teachers will make the phrases more familiar to the children.
Another area that I see a connection with is in working with Professional Learning Communities.  The same way we should be treating our students should be mirrored in the way we “honor” colleagues and their ideas.  PLCs present an opportunity to collaborate and problem solve in the best interest of our students.  If we approach the PLC meetings with the same mindset that we are all here learning together as equals, the PLC will grow so much more.
Finally with emphasis on the CCSS, talk that is accountable is sprinkled throughout the CCSS.  It seems that classrooms where Opening Minds and talk that is accountable are happening need to become the norm.  For example, the Speaking and Listening Standard 1 (Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively)-conversation and collaboration-building on others’ ideas-expressing their own must be practiced routinely for all students to attain an accountable role in the learning community.
What I noticed is, I am not there yet-like many of you (Cyber PD participants) have stated in your learning.  This is a process journey and I will be working hard to get my students where they need to be to achieve standards and more importantly recognize the value of being life-long learners.   As a catalyst for change, I recognize these parallels and need to be the leader, learner, and role-model who weaves their intersection together as I move back into the classroom at the start of the new school year.
So here are my goals-

1.      Eliminate “good job” forms of empty praise and encourage students to share the process of how they worked through their thinking and learning

2.      Post the “cheat sheet”/accountable talk phrases in the classroom

3.     Provide daily routines where students have the opportunities to share in pairs, small groups or whole group about their thinking and learning to foster growth as a “dialogic” learning community
4.   Reflect weekly on how the students are progressing with their thinking and learning opportunities (do a plus/delta chart on  what’s going well, what needs to change)
These are my plans for Opening Minds...Happy Start of School!

Links to other ideas, responses and thoughts about the Cyber PD can be found at Carol's Corner.
PS  Thanks for your support Carol, Cathy, Michelle :)  And thanks to Peter Johnston for developing such a powerful message to share in the best interests of our students!

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