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Uncategorized   |   Mar 23, 2009

Newsflash: kids enjoy learning!

By Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

Newsflash: kids enjoy learning!

By Angela Watson

My students haven’t seen a multiple choice question in 6 days. I think we’re all delirious with joy.

Yes, state testing is over. I apologize once again for terrifying those who read My Worst Nightmare, but fortunately, the actual administration of the FCAT was relatively painless and full of amusing moments. The kids are so cute when they’re really concentrating and trying to psych themselves up. It would have been fun to live-blog it, but anything I wrote would have resulted in a debacle suspiciously similar to, well, my worst nightmare. I did, however, receive a hilarious email from a coworker in another school, who wrote “One of my students who finished early is so bored he is CHEWING ON HIS CHAIR.” Sorry you had to miss out on the good times.

Since testing ended, I’ve obtained permission to restructure our day. We now have 120 minutes in the morning for interdisciplinary instruction in reading, science, social studies. That’s right, folks, I’m no longer isolating the content areas but actually using them to–gasp!–drive reading instruction. I created a world history unit a few years back  (ou can also find some resources for the American History unit I created and a huge page of ideas on making social studies instruction exciting and relevant, even if you hate the subject yourself or have no time to teach it).

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As you can tell, I am passionate about getting kids to fall in love with history, and the enthusiasm of my students is quickly starting to match my own. They’re making real connections with their learning and asking absolutely amazing questions that require the services of Google. (They love when I connect my laptop to the LCD projector and let them watch as I search so we can discover the answers together.) We’ve actually been researching the continental drift, since one of my kids speculated that the continents might have fit together. Yep, these are the type of discussions that third graders are capable of when their teacher doesn’t constantly interrupt them with reminders that “we need to move on now, we have eight more questions to do”.

It’s amazing how the use of authentic learning materials can fix even the worst behavior problems. I introduce the cave paintings we’ll be replicating in our own hallway and my ADHD kids suddenly have an attention span! I show a sample of the cuneiform writing we’ll doing on clay tablets and voila, the off-task side bar conversations vanish! Even the kids who can’t. get. along. with. anyone. are suddenly developing rudimentary social skills in an attempt to collaboratively build a model of a ziggurat. Astonishing.

I’ll be honest. There were mornings when I dreaded having the school announcements go off, because I knew I’d have to get up and teach. Ugh. Summoning enthusiasm for another main idea worksheet was hard work and required substantial acting skills that I haven’t fully developed. Now? I’m still tired sometimes, but as soon as I stand in front of the kids and see how they all hang on my every word, I’m energized and ready to go the extra mile.

I’m so proud of my babies for being great THINKERS. I wish I could teach like this all year.

Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

Angela created the first version of this site in 2003, when she was a classroom teacher herself. With 11 years of teaching experience and more than a decade of experience as an instructional coach, Angela oversees and contributes regularly to...
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Discussion


  1. Yeah for your third graders!!!!! I wish my son was in your class. He will read and read and write and write if it is about reptiles or history. Most of our teachers still live in a one-subject-at-a-time world. I wish everyone could see that content areas fit together beautifully. I even have my English students bring with Science and Social Studies books to class to work on reading across the curriculum. We also do the papers assigned in other classes during my hour. I am not wasting my time. I am teaching them how to apply my curricular area to the others. Now, to get everyone else to see it this way . . .

    Danielle

  2. As a third grade teacher in Wisconsin, I’ve been struggling with state and district assessments (along with my students)for years. I am not opposed to accountability. However, it’s the way we test that I have a problem with. I found an interesting piece in the NY times recently. It makes the case for content based testing…amazing!
    My students had to read a paraphrased excerpt from Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” recently on our district benchmark assessment. I read Oscar Wilde in college and had a hard time with it, why would my 8 yr. olds be subjected to this? Check out this link to the NY Times op-ed…very interesting. We need a revolution! Love your blog, btw. So happy you’re free to teach for the next couple of months 🙂

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/23/opinion/23hirsch.html?_r=1

  3. This is my 2nd year teaching fifth grade and everyone told me last year… “you will truly feel like a teacher fourth quarter when you actually get to teach!” SO TURE 🙂

  4. “I wish I could teach like this all year.”
    What’s stopping you?

    The biggest lie we teachers tell ourselves is that we can’t teach how and often what we want and still meet the standards.

    It’s a crock and a cop-out.

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