Wednesday, March 18, 2015

~*~Book Study~Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites~*~

Have you heard about this book study? I bought Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites as soon as I saw the announcement from Amanda at One Extra Degree. I thought it would give me some PLC (professional learning community) time that I am missing these days (I'm at a one person-per grade level school, so I am the lone 4th grade teacher). I'm a pretty reflective teacher {have you noticed?}, and I thought this book would push me through some reflection.

I have been reading the book and thinking about my own classroom, but I have yet had time to post. Tonight I was thinking about the title...WORKSHEETS (pencil and paper, sit at your desk for an hour and do this) "don't grow dendrites." When I think of dendrites, I think of synapses and neurons, and one idea connecting to another like our veins running through our body or tributaries leading one river into another, into the ocean. I've had many experiences as a teacher where I could literally feel my dendrites branching off and connecting to other things I knew and experiences I have had--I bet you have too. We constantly have those AhHa! moments when we are teaching--oh, that connects to that thing we are doing in another content area--oh, that's a new way to teach that--oh, I'm out in the world doing my thing, and that reminds me of ____ that I teach.

I believe that finding ways to get kids OFF of the worksheets WILL grow more dendrites than constant pencil-paper-pencil-paper-sit-at-desk.

When I skimmed through the book and saw the strategies mentioned, I thought, "Man, this is all stuff we all already know," and "I already do that."
And then...
      ...I remembered that "I already do that" is my PET PEEVE of professional development. We always have something to learn and I believe that even if we think we "already know this" and "already do that," we {I} always have tons of room for improvement in utilizing strategies routinely, consistently, strategically, and with FINESSE. The 20 strategies suggested in Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites include:
When I look at the list of strategies, I have to admit "I don't already do" all of that :) I'm sure we all lean on certain techniques more than others. Maybe we find what works for us and our kids and maybe we are in a rut sometimes and forget to include things we've already learned. So much to do, so much to think about, so much, so much! I also think that I put a lot of pressure on myself when thinking about how I'm doing and making improvements--I don't feel like I'm using these strategies if I only use them in one subject area or as a once a year kind of thing. In my mind, "doing" these strategies means that they are embedded in my classroom throughout the year. Being an elementary teacher with 5 subject areas is tough!

I decided to put the 20 strategies on a chart (One of my favorite strategies--always, sometimes, rarely :) )
If you haven't started following along with the book study, here's the schedule. Each of the bloggers listed are hosting a linky party, so if you have a blog, you can link up your reflections too. Click on a blog and catch up!
Kickin it in Kindergarten- Chapters 1 and 2 (February 28th)
Mrs. Wills Kindergarten- Chapter 3 (March 7th)
Queen of the First Grade Jungle Chapter 4 (March 10th)
Fabulous in First Chapter 5 (March 14th)
One Extra Degree Chapter 6 (March 17th)
Mrs. Jump's Class Chapter 7 (March 28th)
The First Grade Parade Chapter 8 (March 31st)

In April, you will be visiting these girls for the remainder of the study:
Mrs. Ehle's Kindergarten Chapter 9 &10 (April 4th)
What The Teacher Wants Chapter 11 (April 7th)
First Grader At Last Chapter 12 (April 11th)
Erica's Ed Ventures Chapter 13 (April 14th)
KinderGals Chapter 14 &15 (April 18th)
A Rocky Top Teacher Chapter 16 (April 21st)
Mrs. Wills Kindergarten Chapter 17 (April 25th)
Little Warriors Chapter 18 (April 28th)
Falling Into First Chapter 19 (May 2nd)
Kickin' it in Kindergarten Chapter 20 (May 5th) 

{And stay tuned for my "catch-up" posts of my reflections from each chapter}

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