Friday, May 13, 2011

Another Last: Signs of Encouragement

Each year our students, in WV, beginning in 3rd grade, have to take the WESTEST...
Each year, for the last several years, I have had my students make signs of encouragement for our 12 classes of 3rd - 5th graders.  We brainstorm some slogans that will fit on the 1/2 poster and be encouraging.  They trace letters...lots of thinking and arranging...outline with marker and color inside the letters they traced.  They are supposed to use one warm color and one cool color for letters and background...usually looks nice.  There is team work involved and support for others.  They have to go into the "big kids" classrooms and make a little presentation speech with their partner.  Standing and speaking in front of others is a major life skill that I give them as much practice in as possible. 
Here we go...

Always interesting to see the different ways they go about a job.

All good sentiments and encouragement for test taking and living!

We have practiced our "speech" and are ready to go....

They look so tiny.

I think the signs will be missed next year.  I have been doing it long enough that the kids taking the tests remember making the signs for the "big kids" when they were the "little kids".  Making memories....

Wonder if there are any jobs out there for professional encouragers?  I think I could do that job!


  1. WOW! I can think of no greater gift than these lessons learned. Just add a little "encouragement!"

  2. Thanks. All I can do it pray that they really learned them and will use them the rest of their lives.

  3. I really think you do that job already.

  4. Thanks, TL! It is a work in progress....

  5. Awww this makes me teary eyed!! I love those little brats! :D I think it is so awesome that you have them do that - it makes ALL of them know they are important - the little ones and the big ones. Very nice thing.

  6. Yes. That was what I was going for...thanks for getting it!

  7. I love anything that mixes ages - older kids teaching younger ones to read - that kind of thing. We separate the ages in our formal schooling as if there were actual lines between them, oceans. But we grow up in families, each age teaching the others - perspectives mixed, tried out, love exchanged. And by the way, you are one of my dearest encouragers - so maybe I should pay you? The kids' work was really impressive. You work so many concepts into each thing they do - ripening on so many levels, making them aware on so many levels. That state of yours is losing a Master. I don't know what your degrees are, but if you aren't recognized on a doctorate level, the oversight on the part of accreditors simply reveals the ludicrous nature of higher education's clannish, limited little rules. You are great, Donna. And please read that out loud the way I meant it - using that word with all its original power. Few are. But you are.

  8. I so believe that and the one thing I regret not getting to do in my long career is teach a true multi age class of K-2 kids...I read so much about it and tried and tried to talk others into trying the set up, but never could. It makes no sense to seperate by age. As you say, it is not done anywhere else. The closest I got was a looping gig from K-1...I got to keep them for 2 years. We did 2 rounds and both sets of kids were in my wedding! It was wonderful.
    FYI, I only have a Master's +45 and no you don't have to pay me to be your is so easy to do for you! :-)

  9. this is so sweet, what a great idea!

  10. Thanks, Karen. So happy to have you here.

  11. See now. All I have is a Bach + - wait. How many? I was just short the Thesis. But I quit, because I realized at that point that I didn't really find anything in literature (English/American - ancient or closer to now) actually significant enough to write about it. After all those semesters, it was kind of - meh. People write. Mostly men are remembered writing. Knowing writers, it's not like most people who write have actually lived lives real enough and extra-centered and hopeful enough to write anything with much honest wisdom in it. And then college professors teach this stuff like they're teaching the BIBLE for - well, and certainly not for heaven's sake. So I said, "Forget it, thanks," and ran off to teach kids how to think, and how not to be misdirected by the fancy dancy world out there. So maybe three semesters and a couple of summer/springs. Thirty five credits? Only to have them "not count" after five years. Yeah. Like Chaucer and Shakespeare and Milton and Donne suddenly changed after five years, and what I knew about them wasn't useful anymore. University doesn't turn me on = but I won't make a diatribe out of this, much as I DO have something passionate to say there.


    That whole one room school house idea wasn't bad. Few enough kids you knew them and could actually keep an eye on the behavior. And that mix of minds. Wish they'd let you do yours. K through 2 - the ages are not so different from one another that you'd have great gaps going, and they'd so benefit. Which is actually what happened with my home education program - all the kids mixed together. I think it teaches so much - especially in terms of the non-curricular and so very important stuff.

  12. Ha. I remember the college level class where the professor said if you take the comments I have made and rewrite this, I'm sure you can get a better was a B already. I politely declined and told her I was pretty sure I had learned all I needed to learn about this particular idea.
    I actually looked into teaching at a one room school before the husband thing...out in Montana or somewhere and it sounded good up to the point where the application said I would be in charge of snow removal in the winter and stoking the fire...! In another time...I loved the book, Christy, about working in my Appalachain mountains and Sylvia Aston Warner's, Teacher, about working with the Maori.
    Truth is I am a bit tired of trying to make my ideal fit into "the way we are doing it this year." I gave it a good run.

  13. Yes, my dear, you did. And you survived the waves of fashion in teaching by doing it right - by ear. Teachers, I honestly believe, are born and not made. Just like musicians. You can get people who are trustworthy and passible but just really don't have it, not it. And those people need little programs and manuals and classes to teach them to teach. And little boxes to cross off. But real teachers are born with the power - and it is a power. A tremendous thing that includes so many gifts - a way of relating to people, of understanding, almost intuitive understanding. And strength of personality. And kindness. A grasp of the shape and construct of things, and the ability to clothe that sense in words that can be understood. So many gifts - just like music - which is not one gift, but a fortunate bundle of many.

    But we need so many, with so many people on the planet. And in trying to get people of quality, we sometimes shut out people with the gift, because they haven't jumped through the hoops. My Chaz wouldn't be allowed to teach in a public school because she hasn't taken the credits that support the endorsement. But she's teaching her kids with power, fascinating them, making them fall in love with physics and chemistry - and up to the high school level, you don't often need depth of expertise as much as you need to be able to light the fire under someone who will then SEEK depth.

    Yeah. I'd draw the line at snow removal and fire-stoking, thanks very much. Progress has been far more sure in those things than in the art of teaching.

  14. Yes. I have always said that teaching isn't what I do, it's who I am.
    Hmmm. Wonder if that is going to be a problem in retirement?
    Tell the Chazinator to stand fast...those kids need her! Not some silly paper.