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One Cobble at a Time

February 21st, 2014

Sandra Tayler's Journal

responsible woman

A cobble by itself is just a small stone, but when many of them lay together they create a path . My life is made up of many discrete parts. I have to find ways to fit them all into place so that I can continue to journey where I desire to go. This journal records some of the cobbles that create my path.

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February 21st, 2014

My head is full of complicated stories which are not mine to tell. Someday, when they are done, I may be able to tell them in more detail as things we survived. Right now I’m treading carefully as is wise when walking in emotionally complex terrain. I can say that helping a socially anxious kid go back to high school when he has been sick for four weeks is not a quick process. I can also say that sometimes junior high kids do not respect their teachers as they should and then have to write letters of apology. Those sentences seem very understated considering, but they’re how I shall summarize this for now. Maybe next week I’ll have more to say.

I pulled inward this week, focused my gaze only on the day and the work in front of me. I ignored social media because it was what my heart told me I needed to do. I have so much yet to catch up on. I pulled in and in, but it wasn’t me curling inward on myself. It was me pruning away all the noise and saving my energy for core tasks. The process has left me feeling more centered than I’ve been for a long time. I’m going to just keep following my instincts and the flow of inspiration which opened back up after a long dry spell.

Comments are open on the original post at onecobble.com.

During LTUE I had two people ask me questions that I could not answer right away. I said I would think about the questions and blog an answer later. This is that blog.

Question #1
Background:
In my presentation on Building a Community Among Your Readers I spent some time talking about the differences between a community and a following. I felt the distinction is important because they are built in different ways and accomplish different things. To summarize: A following is creator facing and creator focused. People want to hear what the creator has to say and some of them want to respond to it. A community may be centered around a creator or a creation, but the people in it are talking to each other. They interact not just about the creator, but about all sorts of other things as well.

The question:
I was asked to list the pros and cons of building a following vs building a community.

It took me several days to figure out why I was stumped for an answer, but I finally did. The answer to this question is highly individual. One person’s con will be another person’s pro. This means that as a teacher all I can do is list the qualities of each and the listeners have to take those qualities and put them in the pro or con column on their own personal tally sheet.

I hope to write up the Community presentation in the same way that I’ve written up other presentations, but that is dependent on time available. I’ve got lots of projects overdue right now.

Question #2
Background:
I was part of a panel on using games in the classroom. We talked much about integrating games into the curriculum and I cited an example of my son’s teacher who threads history through everything else she teaches. During the colonial unit, she splits the class into colonies and all the spelling words are related to those lessons. It becomes very game-like and stacks multiple educational purposes into a single hour.

The question:
When the panel was over I was stopped by a junior high teacher of English and literature. She pointed out that many of our examples had been history or math based. She wondered if I had any ideas for literature or vocabulary based games that would be useful in a junior high classroom setting.

My answer is really only the beginning of an answer. I hope that those of you who have additional suggestions on this topic will leave them in the comments. This is the sort of brainstorming which benefits from some crowdsourcing. The suggestion I came up with in the moment was speed scrabble as a way to encourage learning vocabulary by giving a practical application for it. It does present some challenges in a classroom setting though. Further thought had me thinking about the literature itself and wondering if it would be possible to structure some classroom interactions based on the conflicts inherent in the current assigned book. A read of Merchant of Venice could be accompanied by a classroom economy of some kind with reward structures. Romeo and Juliet could be enlivened by splitting the class into Capulets and Monteques. These ideas don’t feel particularly original, but more specific ideas could flow from knowing what book is to be read and knowing the personalities of the classes in question. I would caution against any Lord of the Flies live action role play. that could get out of hand.

There is also the suggestion of having reward days earned by accomplishments made on other days. This is also not particularly original, but can be compelling if the right social structure is build about the rewards. If the kids don’t truly care about the rewards, it does nothing. I still feel like there must be some better ideas, so if you have them, please do comment.

Comments are open on the original post at onecobble.com.

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