Wednesday, October 10, 2012
I firmly believe this statement that is posted on the wall in my school. It is true that you must develop a deep and positive relationship with each student that you hope to teach. Sometimes, though, those connections can be difficult to make. This year I have two students who I had trouble making a connection with but blogging and Elephant and Piggie came to my rescue. Both students tended to be watchers and not joiners. They both held themselves back or talked about how they didn't like anything that was going on in the classroom. It was obvious that they were scared of what might happen if they let themselves join in an activity. Thankfully two things happened in our room that each of them found simply irresistible.
One thing that happened was that each student was able to start their own KidBlog. This was the key for one of these students. He loved having a blog and wanted to post all the time. He even posted from home. He loves getting comments and faithfully answers them. One day he even asked if he could stay in for recess and work on his blog. He and I began to have conversations in the comments of his blog and these conversations continued in person each day. Another day, he knew that I had asked him a question in a comment on his blog. He realized that it was not his day to have a turn on the computers in our room so he wrote a book with his answer to my question during our Writing Workshop. I always speak highly of the connections we make through our blogs but in this instance it was not a long distance connection. It was the "way in" for me to be able to reach this student who was right there in the room with me.
The other thing that happened was that we began an informal study of the Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems. These books are always very popular with my first graders. This time these two characters gave me a "way in" with a different student. This student was even more reluctant to join in activities than the previously mentioned student. The draw of Elephant and Piggie books was too much for him, though. He fell in love with the books and one day came to whisper in my ear. He quietly asked if he could take one of the Elephant and Piggie books home to share with his parents. The transformation in this student was more subtle than the change in the other student but it was still significant. He began to want to write books during Writer's Workshop and eventually asked if he could put his books in our classroom library for others to read.
Both blogging and Elephant and Piggie books are something that I have always loved and shared with others but after these experiences, I am thankful to them for giving me a "way in" to be able to connect with these students. Now I must go and order the latest Elephant and Piggie book so that I can have it in my classroom when we return from Fall Break.