Thursday, October 21, 2010


This is a story about Chad, who I already think might be a common subject of my stories this year.

Yesterday we had our weekly reflection period.  This is a time we have built in, for the first time this year, for kids to reflect on their work.  It is a time to write about what you have learned, what you have gotten better at, and what is still hard for you.

These self-reflection skills are, by the way, pretty sophisticated.  Most students need quite a bit of practice and modeling to understand this kind of thinking.

So I made them a sheet to fill out for us to share with their families at conferences tomorrow. It had 3 sentence starters:
  1. I am proud of...
  2. I am better at...
  3. I still need practice with...
 Then there was a box where they could draw a picture.  The prompt was, Draw a picture of the best part of second grade so far.

As an aside, it was interesting to try to help them pin down what skills they have been learning and getting better at.  They can say something broad, like "Math!"  But when you ask what it is about math that they are getting better at, they can't remember.  "The cubes?" they say.  But the cubes, of course, are just the tools they used to get better at something else.  Remembering what they were getting better at is hard.

Most kids were pretty accurate about what they still need to practice.  Nijon wrote he needs practice with the line (walking quietly in line, he means).  That is very true.  Diego wrote he needs practice reading the words in his books, which is just what he needs.

Chad, though -- Chad's work was different.  His says:

I am proud of being smart in math.
I am better at dancing.
I still need practice with running fast.

For many students, I would encourage them to be reflective about more academic things.  The thing about Chad, though, is that he is so tiny, so quiet, so retiring.  He is easy to overlook.  He looks everywhere, all the time, with big eyes, but doesn't speak.  He is shy.  Most of the time, if it gets even a tiny bit louder in our classroom, Chad sits there, his skinny shoulders hunched up near his ears, making the quiet sign with his fingers and waving it vaguely in the direction of the noise, his brow furrowed and his eyes wide.

So dancing in front of people is probably hard for him.  But we do fun dancing in second grade, and he is getting better at it.  Running fast is probably not one of his strong suits, either, I would bet, especially compared to other, taller second-grade boys.  And you can tell, from his writing, what is really important to him.  His reflection sounds like him.

But his picture was my favorite thing.  Under "What is the best part of second grade so far?" he drew a picture of students sitting at desks.  Next to the desks there is a big rectangle (our rug, where we sit for meetings and lessons, I assume).  And around the rug are names: the names of all the kids in our class.

Once again, Chad was the wise one.  The kids are definitely the best part of second grade so far.

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