This week we’ve had “back to school nights” at the grades 6-12 public magnet school where both my older children attend, as well as the local public elementary school where my youngest child studies. This evening was elementary back to school night, and I snapped a few photos (aspiring iPhonographer that I am) which beg for accompanying commentary.

One of my favorite images of the evening was this one, which I shared on TwitPic from the school with the caption:

Which can are you in? (as a learner)

Which can are you in as a learner?

This photo could make a great visual “object lesson” for your next faculty meeting. Are we each taking time to “sharpen the saw?” We all need to be lifelong learners, and our changing technology landscape makes this imperative clearer than ever. We all need to be in the “sharp” can! Sharp and getting sharper!

My 2nd grader was proud to share her writing journal with us today when we visited her classroom. She showed us each entry and read them all to us. You’ve gotta love self-confidence, and it clearly exudes in this journal entry!

Butterfly Journal Entry

I also happen to love invented spelling, like the words we see in this entry for “Lady Liberdy.”

Lady Liberdy

Some teachers and parents freak out when they see invented spelling. “Oh my gosh,” they say. “That’s so embarrassing.” “I better fix that or not show that to parents.” Those perceptions are misinformed, but can be remedied. My advice: Read Steven Krashen‘s outstanding book, “The Power of Reading: Insights from the Research.” How do people learn to spell? By reading. A LOT. The more you read, the better a reader and a writer you become. It’s important to practice writing too, but the research shows we learn to write MOST by reading. I LOVE the fact that Rachel’s 2nd grade teacher encourages her students to write creatively in their journals each day, and include illustrations. It’s also wonderful she understands invented spelling and their importance for EXPRESSION and communication. Proper spelling will come with time. What’s most important now is maintaining our enthusiasm for creative expression and communication!

Even though she claims it’s Christmas, I really think Rachel’s favorite holiday is Halloween. She absolutely LOVES trick-or-treating, as well as the candy which accompanies it! That perception was reinforced in these self-portraits. (Yes, that is a candy corn.)

Ready for Halloween

Self Portrait

On a slightly critical note, I snapped a photo of this keyboarding poster tonight in the school computer lab. These are NOT the primary messages I’d want to share with kids and parents in my computer lab. Yes, keyboarding is important, but let’s learn it in the context of engaging WRITING rather than typing for typing’s sake!

Keyboarding Skills Poster

I also noticed the lack of microphones on all the computers in the lab. It’s doubtful I’ll be able to change these peecees into Apples anytime soon, but I’m confident I can help add microphones to them. How else are the students going to “play with media” and use digital audio?

No microphones

My girls are all glad to be “back at school.”

Sarah, Mom and Rachel

Life is good. We’re counting our blessings tonight.

If you’re a classroom teacher or educator of any stripe, God bless you. Thank you for your service to our children and to our communities. The work you do is vitally important, and you are paid far too little for the hours you put into your job.

Whether you’re starting a new school year in the northern hemisphere, or in the middle of a school year in the southern, I hope it’s a GREAT one for you and your students!

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