Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Opening Minds Ch. 7-9

Isn't it fun when you choose to read a new professional book like Opening Minds and as you are reading you realize that some of the suggestions that are made you are all ready doing in your classroom?  I felt this way as I read the last three chapters. There were quotes and ideas that reinforced what I need to focus on for the upcoming school year.

 I was reminded that "Learning is fundamentally social." That is important for me to remember as the year gets crazy and faster paced.  The time clock is ticking and I feel like I just need to keep teaching.  As I have OLW (reflected) on my class this past year, I believe I did not foster the social development as well in past years.  I had to teach lessons in smaller groups which I believe hurt my whole group community, and I do believe it effected my classroom.  I want to be more aware of that when school starts in the fall.  Already I am considering how to set up my room for of a community area -- one that fits everyone on the floor around the smartboard/chart so we can develop and continue to build a community feeling.

Another quote that caught my attention was "the depth of engagement." When I looked up these two words in the dictionary,  I found that depth is defined as complexity or obscurity, as of a subject.  Engagement is defined as a pledge, obligation or agreement. As I think about these terms in relationship to my class, I know that I need to do a better job in the complexity of the questions and pledge to focus on higher level thinking in all subject areas. 

Another quote that was a positive reminder was "making thinking more visible." That automatically created a light bulb moment with me from last year, when I spent the summer reading Making Learning Whole in addition I am reading Making Thinking Visible this summer.  Both of these books really helped me think differently about how to structure learning as a whole in addition to share thinking aloud.  "When children are thinking together, they generate strategies, and the strategies become available for others to use." In my career, typically the students strategies are the ones that make the most sense to other students.  They are able to explain as well as teach their friends coming full circle making learning whole.  Finally in Chapter 9, point #3 hit home:  We have to take seriously the fact that the adult is not the only teacher in the room.  I believe that however,  it is an excellent reminder as I begin to think about plans for next school year.

Thanks to Laura at Our Camp Read-A-Lot for hosting the final week of #cyberPD. Thanks to everyone who took the time to write comments.  I have to admit I felt like a child in a candy store when I opened up my blog and saw that I had 5 comments in one day.  On the flip side of the coin, I learned so much from reading other blog posts, and I would stop and wonder how did I miss that key point?  What a wonderful learning experience!  


  1. Maria,

    "When children are thinking together, they generate strategies, and the strategies become available for others to use." - wasn't this a great quote?

    I touched on that as well in my reflection. It just speaks to how important it is for our students to have opportunities to converse with each other and learn from each other. I have also found that students want to share their knowledge with their peers and teach each other. I really like how Peter pointed out that strategies are transferred between students, not just content.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughtful reflections throughout. I am a better teacher because of my virtual PLN.


  2. I loved your candy store comment! I feel the same way and that connects all the way back up to the top of your post with...learning is fundamentally social! :) As I read your post and others...I often ask myself the same did I miss that key point? I guess Chris Tovani was right...all readers enter into engagement at different points. Thank goodness for the blogs and comments to see how it connects back to the text and appreciate everyone's perspectives. I concur...this has been a wonderful learning experience!!!!!

    Enjoy the beautiful Ohio day (for once)! :)

  3. Maria,

    Thank you for defining depth and engagement. I hadn't thought about engagement as "pledge, obligation or agreement." Too often engagement is thought of as students staying on task, but taken with depth, engagement is so much more!


  4. Isn't it so wonderful when we read things that affirm what we are already doing, yet challenge us to make more changes and become even better? The honesty in your post helped me to think more about these very things in terms of my own classroom. Thank you!

  5. Maria,
    Johnston made a good point when he reminded us that the thinking that's done together is more powerful than the thinking that results from individuals.

    I'm starting to think about changes I want to make this year too. Taking the time to grow those important conversations and not allowing the pressure of other demands to stand in the way of the powerful thinking that will result from these conversation is something I really want to be mindful of.

    Thanks for sharing,

  6. Maria,
    I was happy to hear that you learned so much from Making Learning Whole and Making Thinking Visible. Both are on my TBR list and Making Thinking Visible is on my night stand waiting to be read next. Now, I am re-energized when I think about reading them. I can't wait to see what connections they make with Opening Minds.

  7. Maria,
    "Learning is fundamentally social." This is true even in this event. I know I am learning more thinking about the reflections of other readers. You have captured many points that I seemed to have missed along the way.

    You said, " typically the students strategies are the ones that make the most sense to other students." Isn't that the truth? Anytime we can put a strategy with a one of the names of someone in our classroom it raises the learning for all. Students are often the best teachers.

    Often as I have been reading this book I have thought of "Making Learning Whole." The two books go well together. I have "Making Learning Visible" on my list. I hope I get it read by the end of the summer. So many little time.

    I'm glad you decided to join #cyberPD this year. I've enjoyed stopping by your blog.