Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Teaching Journal 08-09
Day 13, Wednesday, September 24

I visited a 5th grade literary discussion group this morning and learned several things:
1) Pine Point 5th graders are quite capable of reading books containing high-level vocabulary -- words like "effrontery" and "turbulent". (The book was "Poppy", about a valiant deer mouse.) Not only that, they seem to enjoy investigating the meanings of curious words and sharing them in class. Several students proudly read aloud the definitions they had discovered in their dictionaries last night.
2) Our 5th graders can be very attentive during a serious, 20-minute, rather cerebral conversation. The teacher did not talk down to the students. She obviously expected them to stretch their minds in the discussion, and they seemed to respond in a willing way.
3) Literary discussions with younger children can be both relaxed and intense. I noticed that all the children, as they sat on the floor in their "beach chairs", seemed quite comfortable, and yet almost all of them were either looking at their books or at the speaker for the entire time.
4) A teacher can discuss sophisticated literary topics with 5th graders. At one point, the teacher stopped the discussion and spent about 2 minutes (being careful not to overdo it) pointing out the excellent writing techniques used by the author (Avi), and it was clear to me that most of the students were listening carefully.
My thanks to the teacher for the good lessons about teaching literature.

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