Discovery is the essence of learning.
In literacy, discoveries can be found on any a page or as you work through a piece of writing. But what if you struggle through a page? What are you discovering? Or confirming.
Some of my students struggle.
They tell me.
Reading is hard. I don’t like it.
As a teacher of reading this breaks me.
I know they haven’t discovered the love of reading, yet.
Many fine teachers before me have done all they could to help and guide this child. What can I do?
I start by removing some boundaries. I liberalize the definition reading and writing; I give time to read and write what they want. Then the door opens just a little bit.
When I hear things like:
How did you do that? What does that mean? Why? and What if?
They’ve found it.
These are the natural questions of discovery. But only if students have the ability to find wonders. That requires access and permission to pursue.
For the first 15 minutes of every day, my students have a choice to read or write what they want. There is no prescribed work. They there is no workshop lesson. No unit of study. It’s their time to be a reader or a writer by choice. It’s when discovery is open for all. They read comics, sports magazines, books from home, from their friends. They read on Wonderopolis, Newsela, debate.org. They write on the blog, in their notebooks. It’s their time to discover. And it’s my time to discover what matters to them. It’s when I see what they choose.
I walk up to B and ask, “What are you reading?”
He shows me the cover. I knew Andy Griffiths but not this series. “Is it your book?'”
“No, it’s E’s. He introduced us to it.”
I go on to ask him what it’s about and whether or not he thinks we should get it for the class.
He and those around him, the James Patterson junkies, give it a big thumbs up. I’m thrilled to find another series they can be passionate about.
Later, I hear oohs. I look up to see a group of students gathered around another’s screen. I come over, thinking this is probably a picture of a fast car, an anime character, or who knows. It’s a picture but not what I was thinking.
“It’s my father,” T says. He stares at the screen in semi-shock. He had googled his dad’s name. Kids have done this in the past, and they are always shocked to find the people they know on the internet. It’s a lesson in digital literacy. But this one is different. T’s dad died less than a year ago. The I-can’t-believe-he’s-here statement took on a whole other meaning.
Discovery happens in a literacy classroom at every turn of the page, at every click of a screen. As long as you have access and choice in the process.
Thank you, Margaret, for DigiLit Sunday and the word, discover. When I started this post, I had another idea in mind. But I discovered something else along the way. Read or write about discoveries in digital literacy here.
And thank you, Two Writing Teachers Blog for the Slice of Life March Challenge. Every day I discover something that adds to my teaching and writing life. I can’t possibly send you enough love. Read more slices here.
12 thoughts on “SOL16, Day 20 and DigiLit Sunday: Discovery”
Discovery is a wonderful thing. It allows that choice and voice for our students that I believe is what ultimately turns them into readers and writers – because they get to read and write about what interests them and what they care about. I love that you give your kids time to nurture this and discover!
I would love to be in your classroom everyday. What a great model for discovery learning. Congrats and keep up the good work.
That fifteen minutes is like a treasure box, isn’t it, Julieanne. You’re discovering just as your students are.
That must have been quite the moment for that boy. Seeing his Dad like that. I love the free choice of 15 minutes of either reading OR writing. Thinking about that . . .
Thanks for sharing your thinking and ideas!
I love Linda’s comment above – the 15 minutes of CHOICE is exactly that – a treasure box for kids and for you, their TEACHer. My heart ached with the beauty of your students discovering his father who passed online. Poignant and powerful.
[…] on three blogs this morning before beginning my own writing. I read Julieanne Harmatz’ blog about her classroom and she began it from Margaret Simon’s digilit Sunday focus word: […]
Once I thought 30 minutes of reading sounded like a lot, can you believe that? Now that seems like precious little time. 15 minutes of choice sounds like a lot each day, but I bet it goes fast.
My brain cannot stop thinking about that boy finding his father’s name on the Internet. it’s like hearing a dead loved once voice on an old voicemail. Like raising them I think.
What joy there is in discovery! That’s what I try to get teachers to understand. Let the kids discover, stop telling them everything. Those fifteen minutes are precious choice, although I know they have more choice in the day, these are their minutes. I got goosebumps when I read the part of the student discovering his father on-line. You are amazing!
This is beautiful and powerful. This is why we are teachers…
Like Kimberley, I am struck by the student finding his father on Google. Sometimes freedom of choice is scary as a teacher. You have to be ready to jump in at any moment.
There so much to discover that’s both good and not so good, or scary or sad.You are an amazing teacher to give them freedom but provide scaffolds and safety nets.