Kids Say the Funniest Things…

We were watching White House Down as a family. Not the most appropriate choice for an eight year old, but we watched it anyway.  Troy, my son, says he hopes that the main character doesn’t die.  His dad replies, “They wouldn’t kill off Channing Tatum.”  Troy asks,  “What’s a Channing Tatum?”  🙂


This week our focus during Reading Workshop is on the strategy of visualizing while reading a fictional text.  Making a movie in my mind as I read is something that I have always done, without every receiving instruction on it.  It wasn’t until about six years ago that I realized how important this strategy really is to enjoying reading.

My sister got through high school with good grades, did all her work, read some books when she had to.  However, she never really enjoyed it.  And I think that you could count the number of books she had finished on one hand.  Then a certain vampire movie was coming out and she decided she was going to try to read the books.  She had seen all the previews and ended up reading the book in just a few days.  Shocking to both of us!

She told me,”Jennie, when I was reading I knew what the characters looked like and I saw it all happening as I was reading!  It was such a good book!”

I agree it is a good book, but it dawned on me that it was more about actually “seeing” it happening than the plot line. It wasn’t until that conversation that I realized not everyone visualizes while they read.    She never had.  However, now that she can make that movie in her mind, she loves to read.

I shared this story with my students today while I explained why I was making them draw pictures after every few pages of our read aloud.  I promised them that I wouldn’t let them wait until their twenties to start enjoying books.

Here are a few strategies I have found helpful in encouraging visualizing…

  • Read aloud a great chapter book and stop to draw pictures every few pages.
  • Draw along with them and explain how with more details from the author the picture in your head changes.
  • Don’t show them the illustrations in a picture book while reading the words. (EVER.  Not just when teaching the strategy directly.) Hold the book in front of you and read while they make the picture.  Then, turn the book after you finish the page.  (Yay! No more reading upside down and sideways!)

Yoga Balls

Image“How do you think that will go?”  “Good luck with that!”  These are just a few of the most frequent comments we heard when people (mostly fellow educators) saw that our third grade students would be sitting on yoga balls instead of chairs.  (All in a doubtful tone.)  This major decision about the furniture in our classroom was not made on a whim.  We spent our own money changing this important aspect of our classroom.  There are a plethora of reasons for students sitting on yoga balls all day including, but not limited to, improving the focus of all students.  By keeping their bodies busy, their minds are more able to focus.

In the first month of school, we have had two popped balls and we have maybe one small fall every few days.  We did a lot of interactive modeling the first week on how to use the balls appropriately and have specific rules to using the balls.

1.  Both feet on floor at all times.

2.  Only small bounces.

3.  If you fall off or are not safe on the ball, you use a chair for the rest of the day.

We reinforce these rules every day and do not make exceptions.  Students are allowed to choose a chair if they would like, but only one student out of twenty-six chooses to use a chair regularly.

So far, I would say these “chairs” have been a huge success!  Students are thrilled and responsible.  Parents are receptive and supportive.  And we have become accustomed to talking to children and seeing their little heads moving up and down!