As the school year commences, you may have noticed a lack of email alerts from ZIS signaling new blog posts from the teacher, Mrs. Stiebert, etc. That’s because you are no longer automatically signed up; you need to do that yourself if you enjoy the incessant barrage of information overload…errr…if you like to be informed. And I hope you do…sign up that is, particularly for our class blog. It provides an opportunity, especially for those who actually read the posts and leave comments, to grow with us, celebrate with us, question us, and, more than anything else, get a genuine sense of what our classroom is all about. Those who don’t want to commit to regular blog readings may want to get that sense as well, so I’ll attempt to provide a glimpse below.
What is the blog about? What is our classroom ethos? What do we do all day?!
Anyone who has explored our blog would probably say “spelling” or “word study.” And yes, a majority of our posts are indeed related to how we analyze word structure. In fact, most of our regular readers and most prolific comment providers are not affiliated with ZIS. They are a merry band of orthography enthusiasts from all over the world, a group of scholars who, together, celebrate and analyze the incredibly tidy nature of English orthography. (For more on that claim, and what ‘orthography’ even is, read the blog!) Yes, I am passionate about words and spelling, and yes, one of my hopes for students is that they gain a better understanding of English orthography. But that’s not all, and it’s certainly not the primary motivation. So what is?
That’s right. All of our language activities, and definitely all of our math activities, evolve with the scientist in mind. My job is to pique student curiosity about words, sentences, electricity, numbers, sustainability, shapes, stories, etc., and hone each child’s natural inclination to explore. Then, together, we wonder, we investigate, we look for patterns, we make conjectures, we build evidence banks, we test, we debate, we interrogate sources, we adjust hypotheses, and we share (to name a few!)…all in an attempt to understand. I am much more concerned with your child’s ability to think scientifically – to wonder, to analyze, to test – than I am with his/her ability to spell words correctly or memorize meanings of Latin roots. Less emphasis on compliance, more on individual scholarly pursuits.
Embrace challenges and celebrate mistakes.
‘Memorization’ and ‘speed’ and ‘correctness’ are not priorities in our class. What are? Learning how to form reasoned questions, engage in scientific inquiry, and pursue understanding. Fortunately, mathematics, science, and English orthography, each replete with beauty and order, are ideally suited to these endeavors. I’m not knocking ‘memorization’; it will happen and it is a useful skill. But it is not my goal, and neither is ‘speed’. We will often discuss efficiency, but we will place more value on thoughtfulness and, you guessed it, understanding, regardless of the time required to pursue it. And finally, your child will soon become well aware of my disinterest in ‘correctness’. I’m far more interested in mistakes. That’s how we learn! If we want our children to embrace challenges, to be flexible, to always question, to be creative, then they need that freedom, that ‘green light’ to take risks, try new things, offer new opinions or ideas, and make mistakes.
It’s what I do. Lots of videos. Sometimes just because we’re feeling silly, but usually to share our learning journeys. The first of the school year is below!
The question is more important than the answer! Looking forward to an exciting year learning together!
Students who have instruments…don’t forget to bring them tomorrow AND Thursday.