Slice of Life Tuesday: Being deliberate…reflecting upon my OLW

Slice of Life Tuesday is hosted by Stacey and Ruth at Two Writing Teachers
Today’s slice is doing double duty – as a slice of life, and a reflection of how my OLW has guided my thinking in the month of January.  The second idea is the brainchild of
Maria @ ttp://teachingin21.blogspot.com/ , who thought it would be interesting to see how our OWLs had interfaced with our teaching lives this month, and in this endeavor we are joined by Melissa @ Technology: figuring out how the pieces fit  and Tracy @ Thinking Stems .

     I had selected the word deliberate after much thought, because I loved the fact that it spoke to me both as a noun and as a verb…and because I felt that my teaching ideas box had become so stuffed with possibilities, that I needed to really focus on choosing what I did with more intentionality and to evaluate all options more carefully. 
     So… I began to be more deliberate with my historical fiction unit of study – before I launched book clubs in this genre, I decided to introduce the unit with an in depth readaloud of a title my kids have loved to read but really struggled with in years past – John Boyne’s “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.”  Even though so many of them knew quite a bit about World War II, there were many times when their comprehension broke down because they just didn’t have the background information to connect the story with what really transpired in history.  We did a lot of pre-reading brainstorming to figure out what we already knew, and then I interlaced each reading with Prezi presentations of maps and photographs so that my kids could visualize what they were listening to and taking notes about.  We created charts and mind maps to track our thinking, as well – other ways in which to be deliberate about the reading process.  I had done pieces of all of the above before, but this time I went slower.  
     We are about 3/4 of the way through the book now, and what I notice is how my kids are paying much closer attention to the subtleties in the story.  Our map work and our peeks at aerial shots of Auschwitz have given my kids a better understanding of the way the main character views the camp beyond his fence – they can “see” what he sees.  Our deliberate work with mind mapping also allows them to experience events in the book as the ten year old main character does – they realize that how he begins to connect the dots and reach conclusions. 
   Yesterday, we after we had completed a few more chapters and were wrapping up our discussions, one of my students suddenly smacked his forehead and yelled, “So that’s what that was all about!”  Needless to say, everyone stopped short and wanted to know why the heck he was so excited.  “I finally get why Bruno’s dad was so mad at that Kotler guy’s father for leaving Germany in 1938!!”  We had talked about “Anschluss” before that section of the read aloud – so Will was able to connect the dots.  I was especially happy about this because  he had been one of those students who “just didn’t get” so much of the book when he’d read it last year.  It had been an exercise in frustration then…but now he was loving it, and one of the ones who protested the loudest whenever we came to the end of the day’s reading.  
     Yes, this deliberate pace is time consuming, but I’ve learned that it’s made the entire process so much more meaningful.  Now, I am busy creating wiki -pages for each of their book club selections, so that when we finally get around to making our selections each group can go about researching the history behind their titles and making their book club choices meaningful explorations of historical fiction, too.  Being deliberate may have kept us from spelling and grammar for a bit (much to my kids’ great delight, I might add), but it’s made our reading experience of “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” so much richer!

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9 thoughts on “Slice of Life Tuesday: Being deliberate…reflecting upon my OLW

  1. Wow I am leaving school now that i am a "brainchild" Thanks! Deliberate is such a strong word and as I read your post I can see how that word would change my thinking. I will reflect on this idea as our new month begins tomorrow. Thanks for cross posting!!

  2. This sounds like an amazing unit in your class. Your OLW has served you well. Your students are growing so much through this deliberate instruction and they will remember so much more as they process the new information. Way to go!

  3. Yes, new month tomorrow for OLW & new challenges for thinking, I guess. I loved hearing how deliberate has changed your thinking about your teaching & the teaching approaches too. It's said a habit forms in 21 days, so I suppose it's a good habit now, & will be interesting to see what happens all the rest of the year. I also liked this: "Our deliberate work with mind mapping also allows them to experience events in the book as the ten year old main character does – they realize that how he begins to connect the dots and reach conclusions." I have read this book in a group, & never thought to teach how to use mind-mapping to discover clues in the book (or any book). Thank you for revealing all the details of what you're doing with this read-aloud. Finally, thanks for the comment on my blog. Yes, I may write more about it, but I'd be glad also to send you more info via e-mail too. Thanks again for the above, Tara, & the tagxedo!

  4. I like the way you're deliberately thinking about your OLW. I catch myself trying to think more deeply about mine too. It's hard when we get so busy, but it is so important.I really have to check out Tagxedo. I've seen someone use it once before. It's a nice step up from a Wordle.

  5. Love your exploration of your word as both a noun and a verb! The way you are focusing and evaluating in a deliberate way will have positive results for both you and your students!

  6. Wow, that's great to see you weaving your OLW into your lessons and classroom. I'm really enjoying having an OLW this year (mine is joy). I hope you will continue to be deliberate in all that you do!–Jee Young

  7. Your comment on "a deliberate pace" is so true! When we take the time to go through the process, the journey becomes quite a ride! As teachers we have so much to do and so much curriculum to cover, it is easy to fall into the trap of "covering" curriculum and not "discovering" curriculum. Looks like we both had book clubs on our minds! 🙂 Thanks for the great post!!! I might "deliberately" eat chocolate today to celebrate our first cross-post! 🙂

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