• Image Name
  • Image Name
  • Image Name
  • Image Name
  • Image Name
  • Image Name
  • Image Name
  • Image Name
Article Thumbnail photo

Chris Lehman on Student Research (PODCAST)

Choice Literacy

Franki Sibberson chats with Chris Lehman (author of Energize Research Reading and Writing) about how the Common Core is changing the ways teachers approach student research in their classrooms. You can read more about Chris and his latest thinking at his blog: http://christopherlehman.wordpress.com/

A full transcript of the podcast is available below the player.

 


 

 

Franki Sibberson:  Chris, there's so much to rethink about teaching research in schools.  What do you think are the biggest things we as teachers need to let go of and rethink when it comes to research in the classroom?

Chris Lehman:  Very good question.  Probably the first is that it's not as horrible as we think it is.  I mean, at least that's been my viewpoint of research before trying to work on it more.  When I think of my own research experience in school, pretty much the only thing that comes to mind are that box of notecards we spend eight weeks on, and studying I don't know.  I remember card catalogs, I remember notecards in a box.  I remember by the end of those eight weeks producing some kind of painful paper, and that disappeared and it never came back. 

Then, I think of myself as a teacher, and I'm trying to remember -- I bet I could count on my hand the number of times that I did a "research project" with my students across the years because I think many times, many of us feel that it's so horrible.  I think part of that is, we think about those super-long projects and the drudgery that you go through.  I think one thing to rethink is how do we actually research?  What do we really do in our lives all of the time? 

When I think of research, I think it's the sorts of things we do when you're sick, or someone you love is sick, and so you're on WebMD and then you're talking to your doctor, and then you get a second opinion.  That's research.  Or where you're trying to figure out what Apple product versus Samsung or something else to purchase, and so you’re talking to people and looking things up online.  Or, you're going on vacation, or you want to make a nice dinner.  We do that sort of thing all the time, that sort of research.

I don't think we always think of research when it comes to our classroom instruction.  We think of those things like small things we do throughout our day, but I think that's really where research is.  Then, I guess there's maybe one or two other things I'd start out with, in terms of really trying to rethink it.  I think another is thinking that there isn't one way to do it.  That the way you may have been taught in school, or dragged through before, or the college night before the paper's due research, we're up until 3:00 A.M.  freaking out, all of those things are one way to do it. 

I think about how there was a teacher who had read a little bit of Energize, the first chapter or two of the book, and we were talking about it.  She said, "Well, it really seems like you're getting away from the traditional research process.  Is that right?”  She wasn't saying it in a negative way.  She was like, "This seems really different.”  What I think we ended up talking about is I said, "Well, you know, I do always pause when someone says 'traditional,' like there's a certain way that this goes, and I think part of my pause is not so much tradition.”

I think tradition is a good thing.  It's a tradition for a reason.  But, I think it's more asking yourself, am I doing this out of compliance or am I doing this to learn a set of skills?  Kids ask questions and they write questions on a card and then they hand me the card and then I circle the one and then they have a good question.  There's a way to go that could feel like compliance, or it could be really teaching a set of skills. 

I think when you're learning to do something as skills, whether it's a research process or how to cook something or how to drive a car, there never is one linear line to it.  Even the writing process.  We teach the parts of the process, knowing that kids move around between drafting and revising and they redraft and move across that in a fluid way.  Then, I guess a third important thing to me is maybe along those same lines is really thinking how, if we're gonna help our kids do that, if we're gonna help them move in this way across the process, that learning is really messy.  And that we have to watch out that we're allowing independence and not accidentally creating codependence, you know? 

I think of, for example, it seems like fourth grade everywhere, there's a state project that happens in the fourth grade, right?  The state project sometimes -- or many times -- looks like -- like I was in a beautiful school, brilliant teachers, but they were showing me their fourth grade state project.  And every child in the entire fourth grade got a packet that was stapled together, and on the front page of the packet it said name, state, table of contents.  The next page was like state bird, state -- and kids were "researching," but it was in this very compliant sort of a way.  It was them doing exactly the steps that every other student was doing, and every one before them. 

I think part of thinking about the research process is letting go of it.  It's not horrible.  When we research, we're not doing horrible things.  We can move the process away from a certain linear way of doing it into thinking about it as a set of skills that we're teaching kids. 

I think lastly, knowing that part of this is being messy.  I even sometimes say to people, you've got to throw the handout.  It's gonna scare you a little bit, but that's part of what it means to learn to research is teaching them how to almost create those categories themselves versus just giving them a worksheet to do it on. 

Franki Sibberson:  We do try to make it really neat, don't we?

Chris Lehman:  Yes, exactly.  I get why people do it.  I think it's oftentimes out of care.  You want to get to the good stuff.  If we just tell them what to look for, then we can get to the good stuff of note taking.  But I think out of that care, out of that neatness that we're doing, we tend to strip away the real parts of research, the real stuff that's gonna help our kids as they move across grades.

Franki Sibberson:  Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.  How do you think the Common Core will really change the way we have to think about research in our teaching?

Chris Lehman:  They sure are everywhere.  I feel many ways about the standards, and I think many people do feel many different ways about them.  But I do think that the way that they've approached research, at least in terms of what they directly spell out about them -- and I'm thinking in particular in the writing standards, though I think the word of research shows up across the standards.  I actually really find it interesting.  I think really looking carefully at those writing standards and the strand about research really has helped me rethink a lot of things that I had done before. 

Like, for example, Standard 7 solves a lot of the problem of, "Oh, we have to do one really long process" because Standard 7 expects that students are doing long and short research.  When Lucy, Mary and I were working on Pathways to the Common Core, and just as the reading and writing projects, we were trying to study the standards more when they first -- their first iteration of them.  We invited Sue Pimental, one of the main writers of the ELA Standards, we invited her to the college.  We got to sit down with her -- she was a lovely woman -- we got to sit down with her and ask her about her own thinking about the standards. 

Standard 7 in the writing standards was one that she talked a lot about.  She said how she felt that they were strategically trying to say that research shouldn't be any week project once during the year.  That instead, we should think of them as a set of skills that kids touch on many times throughout the entire year.  That there's this repetition of skills across time.  And that you don't have to do it in this one long, drawn-out way, but you can study a whole process, but you also can pull out parts. 

I think that's one big thing that I really appreciate about the standards.  Then, I think Standard 8 fits into a lot of the ways we think about research, and I think that -

Franki Sibberson:  You know their numbers.

Chris Lehman:  It's so scary.  I can go, "Standard 1, 2, 3, 5!"

Franki Sibberson:  I know, I'm very impressed. 

Chris Lehman:  It's either a good thing or it's a terrible thing that's taking up mind space.  I don't know. 

Franki Sibberson:  It means you've dug in and you know them well.

Chris Lehman:  I'll think that, thank you.  That makes me feel better.  Standard 8 talks about the things that we would think about in research, like evidence means many things.  Evidence is both experience and texts, and I think that's important there's a balance there.  That it's hugely important that we assess the sources that we're looking at, and standards talk about that, and about citing sources. 

The one other piece of those research standards that I really love is Standard 9, the last of the three.  That one says in, I think, a really elegant way -- it's a challenging way, but it's elegant -- that as we become more sophisticated in our reading, we should also become that sophisticated in our process of research.  That as we move up grades, and the ways we look at texts become more and more sophisticated, we should be doing that same thing in our process.  I realize there's one other thing that I haven't dug enough into that I find so interesting and really exciting is when you think about those strands of the writing standards, research is its own strand.  Which means, it's not only for one type of writing.  The types of writing are their own strands, the process is its own strand, and research is its own strand. 

I think sometimes we think of research as only being information-based, like when we're doing informational books, that's the only time we research.  Honestly, a lot of my book is really look at informational writing and argument writing as a way of doing research.  I think that there's an opportunity there to think about research in terms of narrative writing.  When you think of authors, that's so much of what they do.  Novelists research people and they research ways people talk and the things that they do and where objects come from. 

I was just at a conference where Lester Laminack was giving a keynote, and he was basically storytelling on the stage.  So much of his storytelling, I realized, was he was using these very precise nouns.  He wasn't just saying "soda.”  He'd say, "Coca-Cola in a glass bottle.”  There's a way where that precision in narrative really can make you, as a reader, feel like you're inside of the scene.  That's another piece of the standards that I think the Common Core -- I don't know if it necessarily changes it, but it reminds all of us that research is a part of the way we live and write.

Franki Sibberson:  Right.  Not just nonfiction.  Not just information.  In your book, I loved your ideas about note taking, that the important part of note-taking is why we take notes, not how we take them.  Can you expand on that idea a bit and how that could play out in a classroom?  I think you talked about the index cards, and focused on the box.  I forgot about the box.

Chris Lehman:  Right, the box.  Exactly.

Franki Sibberson:  Yeah, I had a box on my desk my whole elementary life, I think.

Chris Lehman:  Exactly.  I'm not saying notecards are terrible.  Many listeners who have a box of notecards next to them at home, I'm not saying throw them away.  Maybe.  Consider it, but maybe not.  But I think really it's what you said, why we take it, I think, is way more important than the how.  

I think there's a danger in all grades.  I think of that box of notecards, but I also think of Cornell Notes.  Again, it's not the kind of notes.  I don't think Cornell Notes are bad.  I think the ideas behind them are great.  Or there's bubble mapping that I know there's some schools that obsess over how many bubbles.  There's double bubbles and single bubbles. 

There's lots of ways to take notes.  But I think the danger becomes when it's notes with a capital N.  There's a particular way to take them, and I'll have to spend a lot of my instructional time making sure you understand how to do this particular version of them.  Then sometimes, the assessment of those notes isn't the quality of the thinking or even the quality of the kinds of information that was recorded.  Sometimes the assessment becomes, "Did you follow the notes?” 

I think that's a danger, where students will learn that way.  Anything we place our instructional time on and focus on, if we really focus on it, our kids will learn it.  I'm not saying that process doesn't benefit something, but what it tends to benefit is this way of taking notes.  I think really more, if we're aiming -- not just standards, if we're aiming beyond the standards and building kids who are curious and innovative and look things up and try to find new solutions, what we want is kids who don't just learn one particular way, but really understand the "why.” 

In terms of teaching the "why," I think it's adding in a step to the way that they take notes.  I think right now, how a lot of students take notes on sources is they have the source open, they have their notebook open, and then they go from source to notebook, source to notebook, oftentimes plagiarizing or copying it almost exactly, right?  I think instead, we have to insert that "why.”  Why am I taking them? 

My argument, my point of view about note taking is that we're taking notes not on books, but really we're taking notes on our learning.  The reason why we read texts or why we research in general is to learn things and to understand things and to have new ideas about the world than we had before.  I think we have to insert a step into note taking.  Instead of going text to notebook, I think it needs to go reading a text and then transferring what we read to our head, and then going from head to paper.  Not book-paper, but book-head-paper. 

That really, it's teaching kids to pause and think and say, "Well okay, what ideas do I have now?”  and then recording those.  Energize, I wrote it as a whole bunch of series of strategies, and so one of the strategies around that that I love is read, cover and jot, reread.  You have kids read a bit of a text and then literally don't look at it.  Just force yourself to move to the second step of have your head open.  You read something about sharks, you cover it up, then you ask yourself, "What did I learn from that part?” and you write it down. 

A final step, read, cover, and jot and then the last step, reread, is that you go back to that original text and this time, you're not just reading to try to get your notes right.  Instead, you're reading to be more of an expert, so you reread looking for expert language.  You look for words or phrases that this expert would say.  Instead of saying that a shark's oil-filled liver helps them float, you notice that this book says it makes them buoyant and you say, "Oh, experts would use the word buoyant.”  So, you go back and revise it in your notes. 

Or you look for more information or concepts that add to what you already were thinking.  You're not just trying to recopy everything.  You're saying, "I was already thinking about how sharks' bodies are like people's bodies, and I forgot this part about how they have kidneys, too, just like we do.  I should add that to my notes.”  I think the why is partially the, "what's the purpose?”  The purpose is, "I'm really trying to learn.” 

Another strategy that I talk about is to then teach them to take all those kinds of notes that they've learned - and again, I'm not saying that you shouldn't teach those things.  I think webs are important and T-charts are important.  But you help them understand the "why" of those, as well.  So you say, "T-charts oftentimes are for comparisons.  It's a really good way to compare two things and gather information on them.”  Or, "A timeline helps you understand events in a sequence or to see where one point in time compares to another point in time.” 

When you learn the whys behind kinds of notes, you can go back and read.  Now, you might teach them that books oftentimes give you hints about the kinds of notes that you should be taking.  When this book on rats says, "There are two main kinds of rats," you as a reader pause for a second and think, "Okay, I could just write down 'there's two main kinds of rats,' or what kind of notes might this want me to use now?  Maybe it's a T-chart or maybe it's a Venn diagram.” 

It's exactly what you said.  It's really thinking less about the how -- and I think you do need to teach some into the how -- but making sure that the majority of our focus on note taking is really the why, the purpose of learning, or how certain notes help us really hold onto certain ideas while we read.

Franki Sibberson:  So interesting as we, as teachers, have tried to clean up this research process, we've taken away the important stuff. 

Chris Lehman:  Right.  Again, I think there's real human reasons for that.  Part of it is 'cause we're worried that they're gonna mess it up and we want to make sure they get to the good stuff, or we don't have enough time.

Franki Sibberson:  Or trying to manage 30 of them at the same time.

Chris Lehman:  Exactly.  You're like, "What kind of notes are you taking now?”  But I do think part of it, too, is saying, "What's my end goal?”  If my end goal is everyone fills out their Cornell Notes correctly, then if that's important to you, go for it.  Let them work on that.  But, if your end goal is that they're seeing their notes as a way of learning, then you adjust your instruction to match that. 

What that means, when you take away parameters, it means that there's gonna be mess.  One way you can look at the mess is to say, "Gosh, I'm awful and gosh, this room's terrible.  It's chaos.  What's going on?”  Or you can look at the mess as a way of information for yourself.  You can say, "Oh, I see Sarah has no idea how to take notes and Jeremy, who knew?  He takes amazing notes that really help him.  And Stephanie is not so good at structuring her notes, but she's really great at adding illustrations to it.”  By seeing those what look like messes, it also leads you into conferences you could have or small groups you could call.

Franki Sibberson:  Right.  Better instruction.

Chris Lehman:  Yeah, exactly.  It becomes this reflective cycle versus a "Check, you've done that.  Check, you've done that."

Franki Sibberson:   Right.  So, on a connected note, what have you found to be successful in getting more non-fiction into students' reading diets?

Chris Lehman:  Right.  It's tough.  Number one, I guess, and it's the easiest and hardest answer of all, is access.  If they have access to lots of good quality nonfiction, they're more likely to read it.  If they don't, they don't.  I think that's one of the big struggles of a lot of schools is number one, trying to have books that will support your students. 

I believe so, so much in classroom libraries and school libraries and public libraries.  I think they're the rock that our schools stand on.  I know funding gets cut and resources get moved, but frankly, if you're a school leader, the most important place to put your money is in the tools that kids use.  What do they use more than anything else?  Books.  I think that's one is really studying, looking at how much non-fiction -- I want to put in a plug for fiction, as well -- but how much non-fiction is in our schools, in your classrooms and your school and your school library, and making more space for that. 

I personally find very little need for textbooks.  I think there's a lot of money spent on those that could go into other books, and so that might be a place to look.  I probably have lost some friends by saying that, but I think that that's true.  I think it’s being creative with funding, too.  I know lots of schools have -- if you're writing a grant for something, so you're writing an art grant, then you add into that grant some books that can support that type of art that you're studying, and that's a way to bring nonfiction in.  You join groups like Donors Choose and you ask for books through them.  I think number one is just really access. 

I work with many schools, and when I look at schools whose test scores -- and I hate to talk about test scores -- but schools whose test scores are low and they're concerned about them, when you look at their libraries, their libraries aren't right for the kids.  They're not interested in them.  The materials are old or damaged.  The message that we send to them is that they aren't important enough for books that are clean and new and that they love.  I think that's number one. 

I think beyond that -- that's probably the largest bullet -- but I think beyond that, I think another is if you want kids reading more non-fiction, a big piece of reading nonfiction is being curious.  It's having things that you wonder about.  Going back to the long and short research projects, I learned so much from Stephanie Harvey and Harvey Daniels book, Comprehension and Collaboration: Inquiry Circles in Action.  It has a big light bulb on the cover.  One thing that they talk about in that book is this thing they refer to as micro-projects where -- and I talk about it in Energize, directly quoting them -- where you find time during the day to be curious about things. 

You are coming in from lunch and the kids are a little bit bonkers, and so you sit down together and you list some things that you wonder about from the day.  You say, "So, if there were things that we were wondering about, what could some be?  I'm thinking about that mosquito that bit me outside.  What are mosquitoes even for?”  You brainstorm together good questions that someone might ask.  Or, you maybe add to that, like Stephanie Harvey gives an example of then having kids brainstorm how to find answers to those questions, then inviting them some time during that week to try to find those answers, and then bringing them back together later. 

I think it's being curious in your classroom and then providing opportunities for that.  I think it's, you’re reading aloud a book together, maybe it's even a novel, and at times you stop to wonder.  Maybe it has nothing to do with that specific objective that's in your lesson, but you get to a point and you stop and you say, "Jeez, I wonder where Amsterdam is.  Talking about Amsterdam, I'm trying to think, where is it on a map and what do people really do there?”  You invite curiosity and you invite your kids to be curious, as well. 

Then, I guess I would add to that, too, to really help kids add more non-fiction into their diet, I think it's thinking about the kinds of non-fiction all of us read and deal with.  Many times it's beyond books, so making sure that part of that diet includes books and the Internet and Animal Planet, the web.  Finding other types of non-fiction that we live inside of, sharing that with our kids and then, offering them opportunities to read those, as well.

Franki Sibberson:  Those are smart, yeah.  So, it's not really as hard as it seems, except for that access thing.

Chris Lehman:  Right.  Exactly.  I think it's so hard and not hard.  The answer is very easy.  Part of it is just the will to find ways to do it.  I'm thinking of a school in Jamaica Queens that I've been working with recently that they really were desperate for books.  We walked around the building together and I was like, "Well, 50 percent of that library you can get rid of," and they were a little shocked by it.  But I was like, "When was the last time that any child read any of those books?”  and they were like, "No, you’re right.” 

They were determined that they had to do something about for the benefit of their kids.  They ended up -- it was the assistant principal, the principal, the coach -- contacted their local congressmen, they talked to their network leader -- which, in New York, is like your district -- they reached out and, in turn, their local politicians are now donating money to the school to buy books, their district is gonna help them get some books.  It really just took them saying, “This isn't right, but we know we can do something about it and we need your help.”  So yeah, I think it's a simple answer, and it takes the will and creativity to pull it off. 

Franki Sibberson:   Nice.  You have had a lot of ideas for helping students craft their ideas into a piece of writing that's more than just isolated facts stuck together.  Can you share some of your favorite ideas in that area?

Chris Lehman:  Sure.  I like how you said "favorite" 'cause this is one of my favorite things of all of it.  I think one thing is first, our mindset and our kids' mindset.  I have a hunch that right now -- or at least from interviewing lots of students -- what they tend to say is when they write about their research, they many times feel like they're writing to prove something.  They're writing to prove that they did the assignment or they're writing to prove that they read the assigned number of books and sources.  There's a way where they're just showing you stuff. 

There was a seventh grader in a science class where the science teacher was having them do some writing, which I loved.  I was so, so happy that that science teacher was like, "Let's use some of your literacy as you're working through this work that we're doing.”  There was a kid who was writing about this human growth and development unit, and things that he learned.  When I sat down next to him and was looking at his writing, it was plagiarized.  It was so easy to tell.  It was nothing like the way he normally would write. 

So, I asked him about it.  I said, "Where did you get these ideas from?”  He very honestly said, "Oh, I got most of them from a book.  I just copied them.”  Then I said, "Why?”  He said, "Because if I use my own words, I don't write enough.” 

I realized he had internalized that what his teacher valued was proving things, or lots of words, not his ideas.  And that wasn't true.  That's not at all what she thought.  She wanted to know what they learned from the process, but that's the way that he had internalized the assignment.  I think part of it is this really helping our kids understand by saying it a lot, and ourselves understand that really good research writing is writing to teach.  That it's not writing to prove, it's writing to teach others.  Through the process of writing to teach others, we ultimately learn more about that topic ourselves. 

One strategy that I'll often do with that is to add again a part to a process.  I think right now, kids take notes and then they draft.  Oftentimes, those drafts look like notes shoved in paragraphs, just go one thing to the other.  I think instead, we have to add a step into that.  Where they take notes, then we teach them ways to experiment through their writing, and then draft.  To experiment with ways that they're going to teach others before they put those into the draft. 

It might look like -- well, notecards could maybe come back here like slips of paper.  Notecards are just notebook entries where students lift one of the facts that they learn, or one of the bits of information that they want to tell others.  Maybe they write that on the top of a page or on the top of a slip of paper, or even a note card -- they write that on the top and then, they experiment with different ways of teaching that information to others.  Teaching through writing, I tend to call it.  One way might be definitions.  You have that idea you want to teach others, so then you practice ways of defining that word. 

Really, the best way to learn how to teach others through your writing is to look at other writers that do the same thing, to look at published nonfiction books, or to look at journalism articles, or to listen to Animal Planet.  That might be one.  Or another might be using anecdotes.  I'll often, in a lesson, say to kids, "Think about PBS.  A PBS special or an Animal Planet special.  When they teach you facts about polar bears, they don't just say, 'Polar bears are really big and they eat lots of food.'

“Instead, they tell a story.  They'll get that voice and then go, 'The mother polar bears walks out onto the ice.  She is there with her --' and then, they insert some facts into it.”  So that's another way that you could teach others those facts through your writing.  That, I think, is so powerful.  I've been gathering lots of examples of students doing that, of trying out some experiments in teaching their facts through their writing. 

One, Laura I know from Twitter, she's a fourth-grade teacher, and so one that she has -- I just pulled it up here.  One of her fourth graders is writing about barn owls, and so this student is experimenting with ways of teaching.  Here they're using an anecdote.  Instead of just saying the fact, which is barn owls eat lots of different things like rats, rabbits and birds, instead the student wrote it like they're telling a story. 

"It's a cold evening, and the sun's about to set.  The barn owl swoops down and finds food in the meadow below.  It likes to eat rabbits, rats, and birds.”  Right?  It's a way that you're crafting your writing to make it clear to other people.  That's what nonfiction authors do.  They're desperately wanting their readers to understand. 

I think a way to help our kids do that is to help them see that writing about your research is not just proving that you know some facts, but it really is about engaging and ways of teaching.  One way to do that is really practice your teaching before you turn it into a draft.

Franki Sibberson:  So smart.  I love this.  Sometimes -- and you've touched on this, and I could infer some reasons -- but sometimes our students come with us already having a pretty negative idea of what it means to research.  How can teachers help our students relearn what it means to research, and to move beyond this traditional report writing and to really have a more positive attitude toward it?

Chris Lehman:  Yeah.  You raise a good point of, I think, first is recognizing that those attitudes exist.  Like we started here by me saying I hated it, I don't really like to do it very much. 

Franki Sibberson:  Yes.

Chris Lehman:  Exactly right.  I think one is recognizing that we have those attitudes and that our students oftentimes have those attitudes as well, or they bring different perceptions to this, too.  I think part of it is recognizing that and knowing that it's there.  Frankly, I think it's a good thing to talk about, too. 

To say to your class when you're starting some research work, just talking honestly together.  "What are things about research that you really liked, or what are things about research that you find really challenging?  What are your feelings about research?  What perceptions do you have?  What's really worked well for you in the past and what hasn't?” 

We all know that our students, especially early in the year, will lie to us until they know that it's okay not to.  I think a lot of times they'll say, "Oh, I loved it.  Oh, it's good.  Oh, it worked really well.”  Part of what we need to do is share our own perceptions and our own ideas, so modeling some of that.  "I hated research in high school and here's why.”  Offering that up so that they can respond as well. 

Then, I think it really begins with us, first us making some of those shifts like thinking that, "Okay, I'm not here for compliance, or I don't want to hand things out to them.  I really want to teach them a set of skills that they can use over time.”  I think practically, then, it's holding onto that Standard 7 thing of having long and short projects.  That if we only put all of this into one long marathon, that's gonna feel like a marathon. 

But if instead we think about it as, I'm going to do a short little run around the block today and then I'm gonna go for a slightly longer run, and then it'll be a short run.  Scattering this work across our year, sometimes long, sometimes short, sometimes in a really formal way, sometimes just feeling informal or just practicing being curious.  I think having that kind of micro-project feel across the year gives our kids -- and frankly, ourselves -- ways to dip our toe in a little bit.  Say, "Oh, that wasn't so bad.  That was fun.”  So when you do take opportunities for longer projects across the year, you've already had some experiences that felt really positive, have changed some perceptions there. 

Then, I think it's really thinking about, again, that we're focusing on development.  A lot of that development includes what we were talking about earlier, of trying to see what our kids can do.  Really making visible the steps that they're taking and their thought process.  The more that we make what our kids do visible and think of it as artifacts and assessment on ourselves, it helps us say, "Oh, I didn't talk about that yet," or, "Oh, that's something I need to highlight," or, "Oh, that's something that kid could teach someone else to do.” 

I think the more that we do that, that we have this reflective responsive cycle in our classroom of seeing what they can do and responding to it, it helps to rub out some of those less positive feelings because we're making them our curriculum.  We're really making them become how we plan our lessons and the process that we go through. 

I guess lastly, I'd say it's always looking for greatness.  Peter Elbow talks about how you want to catch a child on the edge of greatness.  You want to see something that they're either doing really well or almost doing, and let them know how wonderful it is, and let them know precisely the moves that they're making that are helping the do that great thing.  I think it's that.  I think it's looking with wonder at our kids and being energized by the energy that they're giving us.  I think what's true for physics is true in our classrooms, that energy isn't created or destroyed, it just moves.  I think it's true for our rooms, too, that when we're bringing in energy from their lives into this research, that we're doing it energizes them, as well. 

Franki Sibberson:  Then, that energizes us.  Thank you so much.  This is so energizing.  It's just such a different take on the way we've been doing research in classrooms.  I really appreciate it.

Chris Lehman:  Thank you very much.

Franki Sibberson:  Good stuff to think about.

 

Choice Literacy