Tuesday, March 3, 2015

What's Your Perspective?

Reading to a stubborn 2+year-old at bedtime is quite an experience. I am thankful that the girl loves books and that getting her to sit and listen to stories isn't the problem. We have pretty much graduated into real picture books. I don't think she quite realizes the collection she has downstairs or what lies in my office at school. But for now, she is content with the 20 or so titles she has in her room. 
Normally, she insists on sitting in the big chair by herself and I am relegated to the footstool Here, I must attempt to read the book, upside down, using prosody, inflection and proper phrasing. Try it. It's not easy.
One of her favorites is 'the bedtime book' known to others as Peggy Rathmann's hamster-filled 10 Minutes till Bedtime. Every time she chooses this book, I say a silent cheer. The text has basically ten words - most of which is the word 'bedtime'. The true beauty lies in the illustrations. She just hasn't figured that out yet. But, she has time. 
However, last night, for whatever reason, she decided she was going to sit in a little rocking chair and I would be allowed to sit in the BIG chair! I was no longer the peon! 
As we began the story, I immediately was lost: I couldn't find our favorite hamsters, the balloon was in the wrong place, and the hidden Easter Egg was missing. I thought I had lost my mind, until I realized everything had just moved to a different spot. I was no longer reading the book upside down! I was now seeing it as the author intended. Wow, what a difference!
There are so many things to do each day, I wonder how many of them we do on autopilot. I think in our teaching, it is easy for this to happen with things that we are comfortable doing. We have given spelling tests for so long, we just do it. We have put out a morning worksheet, we just do it. We have ran our book clubs a certain way, we just do it. 
But, what if we looked at them upside down? What if we stepped back or forward and saw these activities from a different perspective? Would we change the way we do things? Would we still have the same goals in mind? Seeing these activities from the students' perspectives might lead us to pause and reflect on our intentions. 

10 Minutes till Bedtime by Peggy Rathmann

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