Monday, February 10, 2014

A Lesson In Life

Last week I hung up a chalkboard (contact paper backed) on one of my storage cabinets in my room inviting the students to share what they have learned.  Since we moved years ago to dry erase boards and markers, the students were instantly fascinated and drawn to using chalk to write. I didn't even have to tell them what it was, or ask them to write on it.   By noon, they had grabbed some chalk from the paper cup I had sitting nearby and started to write.  Third graders are like that.  They figure things out and they just do.

Every day the board gets filled with student thinking and comments and random thoughts about the day.   
<----------  See sample.

Lately, we have been learning about decimals, and heard a presentation on the lamprey eel invading the Great Lakes, so many comments are in reference to what we did that day.

Every day at the end of the day, I erase it all so that the students have a clean slate for the next day.   Even after almost seven days, they are eager and anxious to write on it, often lining up to wait for their turn.   I've noticed the color of the chalk can be very important.

How could something so simple be so much fun?  And also useful since I share some of the questions and comments with the class, clear up misconceptions, and the students spend time reading the board to see what their friends are learning.   It's becoming a real conversation piece and focal part of the room.

Today, near the end of the day, I wandered over to the chalkboard cabinet door and read one of the best things chalked by a 3rd grader yet.  

If you look carefully in the middle you can see it.  It says: I learned that you don't always get what you want.  

Bravo!  What a wonderful life lesson to learn.  And she's only eight.  I know way too many adults that haven't accepted this fact of life yet.  Of course I do tell my students this all the time and emphasize it by saying, "I want to be in Florida, but I'm not.   Because you can't always get what you want."  

So, for any parents that hear the standard answer to their daily question to their child: "What did you learn today?" [student replies, "Nothing."] may I suggest you stick up a chalkboard and give them some chalk.  You might be amazed at what you see. 

Now, for sure I can't give every student what they want.  
But I sure can keep trying my best to give them what they need.

Listen to the man who said it best -- 
Mick: You Can't Always Get What You Want

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