#DigiLit Sunday & #SOLC17: Sunday morning reading…

The Slice of Life March Writing Challenge @ Two Writing Teachers – 31 days of  a writing community.

DigiLit Sunday is hosted by Margaret Simon @ Reflections on the Teche


Sunday is the day I look ahead at the new school week and put my lesson plans in place.  So, I turned on my laptop this morning and opened up all the tabs I need to look backwards and forwards and dream big but figure out small: i.e. lesson plan.  I also open my social media pages, sometimes for distraction (yes, I’ll admit that I will stray over when I have trouble concentrating – just what I advise my students not to do!) but mostly for wisdom.

Just this morning, for instance, there was Vicki Vinton posting so brilliantly about solving problems as readers.  Before I could do any lesson planning, I had to read Vicki’s post several times (her  densely layered, powerful thinking takes time to sink in), and then take the dog out for a long walk so that I could think about her work in relation to my work, and how to bring what I do with my students closer to what Vicki achieves.

Further FaceBook wanderings took me to a link another friend had shared to this article:


These passages stuck with me and almost necessitated another long walk with the dog to mull over and think through:

In classrooms all over the country, the teacher cares more about her students’ grades, learning and futures than they do…Teachers are expected to combat apathy by continually finding new and innovative ways to reach students – through multimedia lessons, group work, games, alternative assessments or whatever it takes. To ensure student engagement and skill acquisition, we must teach to the individual learning styles, interests and abilities of each of our students. If a student can’t learn the way we teach, we must teach the way he learns – times infinity.

…this way of thinking has shifted the responsibility of learning, and of caring about learning, from the student to the teacher. Because it isn’t just administrators and parents who believe that it is a teacher’s job to make learning fun. Kids believe it, too. As a result we have a generation of students who think that if a lesson or an assignment or a class is not interesting, if it isn’t engaging and fun and inspiring, then it simply isn’t worth caring about. They are not obligated to care about it. It’s a teacher’s job to make all learning exciting. If the teacher hasn’t lived up to her responsibility, why should the child?
This idea of “making learning fun” is a complicated one.  I want my kids to be engaged and look lively, alert, and awake when they are in our classroom.  But, so much of learning, especially in the upper grades, requires quiet reflection time and effort – teaching kids to think, and be invested in the thinking process, requires space for boredom, too.  I know that some of my best thinking, my deepest insights, come after a frustrating period of pencil twiddling and discouraged sighing – I need to tangle through that process, however much I want to avoid it.  The article went on to observe this:
The world isn’t a video game. It doesn’t always offer fun and exciting paths through the mazes of life. So unless we change the way we approach education to include an emphasis on student responsibility, and unless we give our students the basic tools they need to accept that responsibility, we really haven’t taught them much at all.

We have many conversations about cultivating learning habits in our classroom, especially because sixth grade is such an important, gateway year.  I try to remind my students that magic happens in our classroom only when they are part of the “show”, not when they are waiting for me to entertain them or show them the way with some flashy new app or game.  Today’s article reminded me of how important these conversations are, and how intentional I have to be in continuing them.


21 thoughts on “#DigiLit Sunday & #SOLC17: Sunday morning reading…

  1. OH my heavens, Tara, we share the same brain. This is my typical Sunday ritual as well. And, I love going on the walk to let the new ideas marinate with my own experiences and I wait for the light bulbs to turn on so I can visualize how they will work in my room.

    Thank you for this post. It makes me feel a little less lonely in my world of Sunday morning rituals.

  2. Your post is very timely for me and something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. As a special education teacher, I’ve been thinking about it this way.. am I empowering or enabling students. I really wan them to find their own spark and passion for learning. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  3. Tara, you have touched upon a feeling I’ve long had about the way we educate nowadays. You’ve hit the nail on the head. It’s a two-way street. There must be effort, passion, focus, and, yes, boredom on both sides. Boredom is the well of creativity. Perhaps it would help your students to think of that whenever they get bored. Wonderful post…words for all of us to ponder.

  4. As usual, your thoughts dig deep and touch my worries and wonderings. I have these thoughts and go back and forth with them. Learning and life are not video games. Our world has changed since we were in school, but learning and the value of it haven’t. Learning is hard. It was then. It is now. And I know as a learner, it isn’t mine unless I do it. That’s the problem with the constant expectation of entertainment and engagement. True engagement is when we are working. And it isn’t easy. The trick is to keep kids wanting to work. Grateful for your wisdom and learning your share with me.

  5. So much to ponder in your post — I will need three walks to process it all. As always you are thinking, connecting, growing and bringing it all back to the kids in your classroom. You are so intentional in everything you do and it shines through when we get glimpses into your classroom. Don’t change a thing with your Sunday morning reading – it is working for you. Thank you for leading me to these resources this morning.

  6. Students are so used to things being fast and constantly changing…video games, TV shows that change scenes every 30 seconds…that they don’t know how to take the time to sit and reflect. They expect things to be done for them that they don’t realize they need to be a part of the process as well. Good for you for showing students that they need to take an active part in their education.

  7. I love that you linked to the boredom article. I had not seen it, but it certainly is something I think about often. Years ago I read an article called “Burned Out and Bored.” The writer wrote about the challenge to stimulate kids as they become accustomed to increasing stimulation. That said, I think the kids who know and accept that their learning depends on them get short shrift; that is, we fixate on those who want and expect entertainment. Perhaps it’s long past the time we say “enough.”

  8. Such a wise and reflective teacher, Tara!
    I loved Vicki’s post this morning as well and literally had no clue what to think about it other than “Who cares about the Zen monk?” on the first read. But your second connection is one I’ve struggled with as teachers add technology for the sake of “checking it off” that it was used rather than thinking about how it might deepen understanding or collaboration. And I could be selling them short but teaching is so hard because of the many possible distractions. Now more than ever, it is important that students have to do the heavy lifting of the thinking, the reading, and the writing. Their future and our country’s future depends upon it! ❤

  9. You push my thinking deeper and deeper. I wish more teachers would take the time to ponder these topics, rather than reach for the first thing they can find off a google search for lesson ideas. You do important work for your students’ future by ensuring they are part of the “show.”

  10. Magic happens when they are part of the show. I love this. We have to make our classrooms community learning spaces, not sage on the stage or all student directed. There’s a delicate balance that I strongly believe can be achieved, and mostly because I know you.

  11. Love your Sunday morning routines, and the ideas about learning and what it entails is one to explore, discuss, and grapple with. I don’t think that school should model itself after video games, but I do think we have to be intentional about what and how we teach. Learning IS fun, no doubt, but much more so when we are learning about what matters and what is within our realm of processing. Thanks for a post that really got me thinking!

  12. There was a piece I put together that my colleagues (in advanced school) & I created that discussed “magic happens in our classroom only when they are part of the “show”, not when they are waiting for me to entertain them”. They were expected to bring their brains and enthusiasm to the learning as much as we teachers planned to. Of course, they brought ideas about studying their chosen topic, so that helped too. It was not a “song & dance act” put together for them. I agree so very much. Sounds like a great article.

  13. Your closing lines apply to so much more than the classroom. I especially like: “I try to remind my students that magic happens in our classroom only when they are part of the “show”, not when they are waiting for me to entertain them or show them the way with some flashy new app or game.”

    As I read I thought, Be present. Be active. You demonstrate that in the ways you work on Sundays.

  14. My favorite line – “that magic happens in our classroom only when they are part of the “show”, not when they are waiting for me to entertain them or show them the way with some flashy new app or game.” I so agree! I have struggled with this and it is not to hear it said from others as well.

  15. This is a pervasive problem in our school as well, Tara. We’ve been trying to instill the growth mindset stances Kristi Mraz and Christine Hertz talk about in their book, A Mindset for Learning. Many kids buy in, but there are still some who aren’t willing to be “part of the show.” Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and the link to this article.

  16. Thank you ” I try to remind my students that magic happens in our classroom only when they are part of the “show”, not when they are waiting for me to entertain them or show them the way with some flashy new app or game. ” I’ve struggled all year with this idea and you put the words together for me.

  17. I have pondered this same concept again and again. I teach students in grades 4-6 and I have told my readers numerous times that we can have fun but it’s not my job to entertain them. For me, you hit the nail on the head when you said, “the magic happens in the classroom only when they are part of the show.” Thanks for a thought provoking slice. Now I’m off to check out the links you included. I won’t be walking the dog though since we don’t have one. 😜

  18. This is quite a thought-provoking slice today, Tara. I have often wondered about student investment in their learning. (Maybe that’s why I never really got into the whole “Teach Like a Pirate” thing. To me, it seemed more about entertainment.) I often tell my students I can put the gas in their car, but that have to make it go. Thank you for pushing my thinking today. I’m sure I will be thinking about all of this as the week goes on.

  19. This post and the comments which have been left are very timely for me as our school is growing and developing a new philosophy on teaching and learning. So many great comments here and as usual Tara you have us all thinking, and me learning. Loved it. Thanks for all you give to us as a community. 🙂

  20. A very wise Slice with lots to think about as teachers continue to be challenged in every way. It seems overwhelming to me. Glad you’re still in there mucking around to make learning authentic.

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