Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Baby & Bathwater

Have you ever thought about the weird expression “don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater”?

It’s a really strange expression. I mean, who throws out a baby? Or, maybe more precisely, who doesn’t notice a baby falling out when they dump a bath, no matter how dirty the water may or may not be?

This is a really a colorful, impactful, German expression, used by everyone from Martin Luther to Von Bismark. It means “don’t get rid of something important/good when you get rid of something not-so-important/not-so-good.”

As we slide into Spring Break (ya-hoooooo!!!!!) and into fourth quarter, I want to ask if you have thrown out a baby accidently with your bathwater this year -- and if you can save said baby in the last quarter....

Meaning, what have you decided your kids “can’t” do? How can you help them ACTUALLY DO that thing? And how can you help save the good parts (the baby in this metaphor)

Image result for beginning for the school year to end of the school yearIt has been seven months since school started. Your kids have grown and matured (probably). They have learned things in your class and in other classes. They have gone from an incoming whatever-grader (7th grader or 10th grader, for example) to an almost-the-next-grader (almost an 8th grader, or almost an 11th grader). Most of the school year has passed. It’s a new day, a new quarter, a new game.

What I mean is ... stuff changes. Kids change. That thing you thought they couldn’t do? Maybe they can now.

Image result for you can't handle this class memeTry again.

Save the baby you may have thrown out with that bathwater.

  • Have your kids struggled so much with Higher Order Thinking (HOTs) that you decided that they “can’t handle” higher order thinking?
    • Maybe you can try some different higher-order thinking on a smaller scale, with more modelling, more scaffolding, in a task where they are more likely to be successful. Think about a HOT turn-and-talk or a quickwrite with HOT, instead of a elaborate HOT assignment or a long series of HOT questions
  • Have your kids struggled with collaboration? Have they gotten off-task or got “squirrely” or loud or whatever when you let them collaborate -- so much that you decided that they “can’t” work together?
    • Maybe you can try some smaller, shorter, highly-structured collaboration. Structured turn-and-talks (each kid gets 30 seconds of uninterrupted talk time or each kid gets a role). Give them the “Oh Groups” five rules of groupwork
      • On Task
      • On Topic
      • Only Talk To Your Group Members
      • On (or in) Your Seat
      • Level One Volume
  • Have you-the-teacher struggled with a particular piece of technology?
    • Maybe the bugs have been worked out by now. Maybe you’ve seen or heard your peers use it and they can give you tips. Maybe now that you have so much else mastered that this time or year you can try it again. Try Plickers or myunify or whatever.

  • Are your kids giving you terrible writing? So awful that you’ve decided that they “can’t write”?
    • Don’t forget -- the only way to get better at something is to practice, practice, practice! Give your kids a chance to write frequently, in a practice-format (not a big grade) sort of way.  Give them quick writes, sentence starters, words-to-use, graphic organizers, or any other support they need.

  • Are your kids struggling readers? Have they struggled so much that you got tired of watching them struggle and you have been giving them the content notes to write down so they don’t have to read it?
    • Again, the only thing that helps us improve is to continue to try. Give your kids more readings, different readings, more reading strategies. Use gradual release again and again. Explicitly teach the skill, not just the content.Give them easier text with which they can feel successful AND text that is a little tougher to make them S-T-R-E-T-C-H.

Where have you tried to throw out the baby with the bathwater this year? It’s not too late to SAVE THAT BABY! You still have a whole quarter left. I encourage you to give whatever it is another try, maybe from a different perspective.

Take some time over this spring break and put this in the back of your mind. Let it “percolate” back there and think about what didn’t work earlier this year -- and how can you try it again later in the year and be successful.

What “baby” in your classes are you going to try to rescue? What are you doing over spring break? Have a wonderful, restful spring break! As always, I love to hear from you! Email me

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