The Big Fresh November 10, 2018 Just Keep Pedaling
Life is like riding a bicycle. In order to keep your balance, you must keep moving.
I’m trying to get back into the rhythms of riding. Last summer I purchased a new bike so I could begin to bicycle again. It’s been years since I have ridden, and let’s just say I’m not in the same shape I was in all those years ago. Learning anything new takes work, but at least for me, adding something that requires exercise exponentially escalates the challenge. Thankfully, my new bike moves with ease across the trails, and its slimmer frame makes it effortless to pedal in comparison to my old mountain bike. Still, I’m finding as I get back into riding that I’m learning some lessons that improve my performance each time I hit the trails. Interestingly, some of the lessons apply, not only to cycling, but to life and learning in general.
Such was the case as I recently pedaled the bike trail into our city. Pedaling along the river’s edge, adjusting my speed along the way, I began to think of some rules of riding that I could apply to other contexts:
Don’t make every ride a long, hard ride. I appreciate the shorter rides. Putting short rides in between makes it possible to do the hard work required of longer, more challenging rides. If I had to ride hard every time we went out, I know I’d give up.
Riding regularly makes the work easier. I’ve been trying to ride frequently. Keeping a regular riding schedule makes biking easier. Too much time in between rides can make it seem like I am starting over again.
These are helpful lessons, but the most important one I’ve learned is: when it’s all uphill, don’t. stop. pedaling. Hills are the biggest challenge. When I see one coming, I’ve learned to try to pick up speed before I get there and shift into a different gear. No matter what happens, I know I can’t stop pedaling. I discovered quickly that if I stop pedaling, I have to get off and walk the bike. There’s no way to make it up a hill without continuing to pedal.
When I think about the literacy learners I sit beside each day, these same lessons apply. I don’t want everything to be hard for them. They, too, need opportunities to spend time with easier books, reflect in ways that are light, and write with whimsy. These opportunities will make the more complex thinking easier. Regular opportunities for reading and writing are essential for continued progress. It’s easy to read and write when literacy learners stay in a rhythm. The only way to grow and get uphill is to keep pedaling -- to keep reading every day, even when it is a struggle.
This week we look at reading poetry in classrooms, with a companion issue on writing poetry next week. Plus more as always -- enjoy!
Cathy Mere is a literacy specialist in Hilliard (Ohio) City Schools. She is the author of More Than Guided Reading. A trained literacy coach and former Reading Recovery teacher, Cathy leads professional development workshops and presents at state and national conferences. She blogs at Refine and Reflect.
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Jennifer Schwanke finds song lyrics are one way for students to see the power of poems:
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Gretchen Schroeder finds helping her students see the value in rereading poems is all about helping them pay close attention to imagery:
That's all for this week!
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