Like many of us, I have been eager to move past 2020 without really looking back. I usually enjoy beginning each New Year by reflecting on the past year's learning and shaping plans for the next. However, the idea of lingering in the residue of 2020 has been unappealing at best, horrifying at worst. Who really wants to reflect on one of the hardest year's ever?
To complicate the reflective work even more, I tend to judge myself for not having enough pain this year to even really give myself permission to grieve or process it. Certainly, many people have had it much worse than I have. I continue to live a life with much privilege. We do not have hunger or housing insecurity. While 2020 has been challenging professionally, I have managed to keep my work afloat enough to support us. And most significantly, I have not lost a loved one to COVID (or anything else) this year. So what do I really have to lament from 2020?
My sweet friend, Krystle Cobran, author of The Brave Educator, once told me, "We have a tendency to compare pain." She went on to say that using someone else's pain to delegitimize our own only delays our healing. So I try to give myself permission to process my experiences, even when some part of my brain tells me that they aren't serious enough to warrant attention because someone else's pain is more.
I have learned the truth, however, that I can't be of service to anyone if I haven't tended my own inner garden in ways that are loving. This means acknowledging my hurts and grieving my losses, even if they seem smaller than someone else's. So when another friend, Lizzie Merritt, mentioned that she had just finished her "annual year in review" process, I thought, "Wait a minute! Perhaps, this year needs to be looked at even more closely than usual, rather than boxed up and stored in the recesses of my psychological closet."
Lizzie was kind enough to share with me a reflective tool she created for learning from a previous year and planning for a new one. What I love about Lizzie's work is that she seems to really find a balance between action and reflection, between listening to ourselves and engaging our power to move past our limitations. For example, Lizzie's book about willpower begins with recommendations about learning to meditate.
Lizzie was kind enough to let me share her year-in-review tool.
I found the reflective the process challenging. I was surprised by how tender I was and how much my weary inner self wanted to avoid the work of self-reflection. I worked through the process in four different sittings, which helped. Because my work has demanded so much focus this year, I didn't pick work as a category. Basically, I never need nudging to work more. Instead, I chose: Health and Fitness; Home/Physical Environment; and Fun and Leisure. All of these areas need some serious attention from me. In fact, when I got to "Fun and Leisure," I was stumped (Does working on a "fun" writing project count?).
Here's some of what I learned from the whole reflective process:
So, while I have no interest in a repeat of 2020, now that it is almost behind me, I am grateful for what it is taught me.
May 2021 bring everyone at least some small dose of "normal." May we be kind to ourselves as we process 2020's difficulties, and may or biggest growth work of this year the stay with us, propelling us to be our most powerful selves.
In part one of this series, I introduced the following model as a representation of how proficient readers are able to make full use of both the print information and the meaning information in a text.
I also described two variations on reading process, which illustrate the ways students may be better at using one or the other source of information.
Look closely! What happened to all the missing socks?
Author: Jan Burkins & Kim Yaris
Illustrator: Marce Gómez & David Silva
Reading Level: A
Here are some highlights from the collection:
There is one title that is specifically about starting school. It is a Level E text about a peacock who is nervous about the start of school and afraid to display his feathers. When his teacher asks him to introduce himself and share one thing he is good at, he is much too shy. After making friends on the playground, he musters his courage and shows his true self.
There are three titles in the collection that relate to mindfulness. Happy (Level C) is about a little girl who is exploring different kinds of happiness, such as the calm happiness of a breeze vs. the palpable happiness of a surprise birthday party. Hurry Up, Slow Down (Level D) is about a little girl who is walking to school with her father and is caught up in the simple beauty around her. Finally, Everyday Beautiful (Level H) is about two boys who have been asked to find something beautiful. One boy overlooks the natural beauty around him while another shows him how simple things can be beautiful.
There are five titles in the collection that use science related to light and shadows to tell a story. They range in levels from C-J. We wrote these to align with science standards. If you teach light and shadows, you may find these texts a nice way to integrate your science content into your reading instruction.
If you already have the Who's Doing the Work? K-2 Lesson Sets, these digital versions of some of the books should be helpful. Although you don't need the lessons to use the books, if you are interested in the lessons that go with the books, they are available from Stenhouse Publishers.
For the last couple of weeks I have been making something for you.
Inspired by my son's pen pal relationship this summer, I ordered every book I could find that involved characters who write letters. I read them all carefully, considering how some could work together around the theme, Mail Myself to You.
Finally, I wrote a set of K-5 lessons--including Reading Art, Read Aloud, Shared Reading, Small Group Instruction, and Independent Reading. I've assembled these lessons in a tabbed hyperdoc--a pdf that links to sections within the document, as well as to sources outside the document. It includes videos of me describing the books and the lessons, written descriptions of each lesson, and ideas for extension. The lessons are clustered: kindergarten-1st, 2nd-3rd, and 4th-5th.
The lessons are free, with a subscription to my blog/newsletter. If you complete the contact form below, I will email you personally, including the 25-page, linked PDF as an attachment (Please, give me 24 hours to respond). Or, if you want to write to me directly to request the document, my email is email@example.com.
I am excited to share this collection of resources with you. They have been a labor of love.
Wishing you all good things,
Here's what you will need:
- Tracing paper (I used parchment paper out of the kitchen, but any thin paper will do.)
- A pencil or pen that won't bleed
- Adhesive/removable film. I used Cricut Removable Vinyl.
Here's the process:
- Choose a book. You will need books where the faces of the characters are large enough on the cover. You need their faces to be unobstructed by their hands or the faces of other characters (unless you want to do a more complicated masking job). Also, the placement of their eyes, nose, and mouth matter. If the nose is almost on the same plane as the eyes, then it becomes hard to draw a mask on the face. I was also intentional about selecting books with slick covers, as it seems that would make it easier to eventually remove the masks.
- Trace the face. Use tracing paper to trace the face of the character on the cover. I found it helpful to include the ears, eyes, and mouth. I even traced the hair, just because it gave me a better sense of how the final product would look.
- Draw the mask. Draw a mask on the tracing of the face. Start from the top of one ear and go to the top of the next. Repeat, drawing a line from the bottom of one ear to the next. On the sides, the mask curves in. You will have to modify this, depending on how the characters are drawn. For example, I put a mask on a bear and a fox, neither of which had ears that easily translated to drawing a mask.
- Trim the tracing. Trim down your drawing by cutting widely around the mask. This will involve cutting up the drawing of the face, which is okay, since you are only going to need the mask.
- Cut the vinyl. Cut a piece of vinyl a little larger than the mask. Put the vinyl behind your drawing. If your vinyl and your tracing paper were both in rolls, you may find it helpful to make sure they are both curved in the same direction, so that they don't fight each other. Also, when I used a light color, such as yellow, I found I had to double the vinyl.
- Cut out the mask. With the drawing against the vinyl, cut through both to cut out the mask. You will have to make sure that you don't let them wiggle, but keep the same alignment through the whole process.
- Adhere the mask. Remove the backing from the vinyl. The adhesive vinyl I used was pretty forgiving; I could pull it off and reaffix it as I needed to. There was a bit of trial and error with applying each of the masks.
- Cut and affix. If you want to cut thin strips of white vinyl to make the elastic for the mask, then that is the last step. I found it easier to remove the backing from the vinyl before cutting these really thin strips.
Here are a few images of the process:
While this is not a sophisticated or comprehensive solution to softening mask-wearing, it may prove a conversation starter or at least something to engage students. At the very least, this is a fun way to think about how masks can cover our expressions. You could even pull back the film to reveal the expressions of the characters. This project seems to be fun, whether you are sharing books virtually or in person.
Perhaps, if you begin school "face-to-face," they should go on your shelf six-feet apart.
Note: After I had completed the project, my children pointed out that the bird on Rocked Writes a Story didn't get masked! I had already put up my materials, at that point. If I were sharing the book with children, I would mask all of the characters on the cover.
Dr. Jan Burkins is a full-time writer, consultant, and professional development provider.
Back To School
Preventing Misguided Reading
Science Of Reading
Sources Of Information
The Great Debate
Virtual Guided Reading
Who's Doing The Work?