Wilson Ranger Post


Smelling Bee

On many occasion I have been told, barked at, or otherwise conveyed the message that “we need a new model of teaching and learning.” “The current one is broken and needs to be tossed.“ “Kids simply don’t learn the same any more.” Oh and one of my personal favorites, “we aren’t teaching them to think but rather regurgitate facts and figures.” That last one arises quite frequently in the field of mathematics. The idea is that memorization of algorithms with a lack of conceptual understanding leads to failure.

I will admit that I have somewhat blindly bought into many of these modern notions. It wasn’t until recently that I saw it first hand. I was at a very traditional meeting known as a spelling bee. This particular meeting was a district wide meeting. I had been to many of them, but this one was different. The word caller spoke out the words one right after the other and the learners kept getting them right. There were countless words that I simply had never even heard! Yet these learners could spell them all. After around 2 and ½ hours of word calling the judges arrived at the end of the official book. They then had to transfer over to an alternate. As most of these books do, they begin simple and gradually move to more complex words. Taking this into account the judges jumped a few pages and began their round. To their astonishment, all spellers failed to spell correctly. After a few rounds, they had to regress to the skipped pages and yet they still were unable to spell even the simple words. They would ask for origins, definitions etcetera and yet unable to spell the words. After a little over 3 hours, the bee came to its full closure with the lone spelling winning the bee.

What happened? If I were to tell you that the spellers had access to the first book of words in advance and the second book was entirely new to them…would you be surprised? What can we learn from this situation? It does seem that these guys and gals really hadn’t truly learned any patterns of spelling. They had undergone what could have only been hours and hours of memorizing the words that they had more than likely never heard previously. Why? What was the purpose? What is the benefit? This is a example of teaching them the information but not teaching them to think and learn for themselves. We will not aways be by their side. We must equip them with the tools necessary now, so that when we are not present, they will be able to solve the problems that they face all on their own.

So, are you teaching them only the facts? OR are you teaching them the processes to figure out those facts?

The Bag...I mean Book Lady

So Many Books, So Little Time

For a bibliophile, book-a-holic like me, this is my favorite time of year. January is the month when all the best book lists for 2014 are published and the annual book award winners are announced at the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter conference. I get giddy reading through the lists and finding both my favorites and new ones I missed along the way.

The ALA award announcement press conference is the Oscars of publishing, a gala affair with thousands in attendance. As each award is announced, the room erupts in screams and claps and loud celebration from avid fans of these beloved books from the previous year. What book will win the Newbery? (Brown Girl Dreaming) What book will win the Caldecott? (I have no idea, too many to decide) I will be at the announcements in Chicago, and I can’t wait! Follow me on twitter, @debramarshall, for updates, or better yet, have your class watch the live webinar! Monday, February 2, 8:00 CST http://tinyurl.com/732wke6

In the meantime, here are some honored “best book” lists you can check out to make sure you are on the cutting edge of the newest and bestest in children’s literature from last year. Our Wilson library either already has these books, or are being ordered for us. If you see one you’d like to try, let me know. And come talk books with me!

Hornbook Fanfare - This year’s Fanfare, the Horn Book’s list of the best books for children and teens published in 2014, has something for just about everyone.


School Library Journal - In 2014, more than 250 titles received an SLJ star;
from that group, 70 books were chosen by the review editors as the best of the best. From raucous read-alouds to off-the-wall adventure, there is something for everyone on this list.


Booklist Editor’s Choice 2014 Books for Youth - Committed to providing a broad selection of outstanding books that mixes popular appeal with literary excellence, the Books for Youth editorial staff has chosen the titles below as best-of-the-year nonfiction and fiction books and picture books.


Keep up with books and authors throughout the year and gain great teaching ideas. Log onto www.Teachingbooks.net with your CISD email address for all the best in book guides, author videos, book readings, author websites and all things books from the internet.


iPad Professional Learning Opportunities

Check Yer Dwr's....of your Fridge :)

If you want to clean out your fridge produce drawers for the weekend, throw that stuff in a grocery bag and drop it off at the compost pile Friday morning! We'll turn your garbage in to garden gold.

Fruit and veggies only, no meat or dairy.

Set a reminder in your phone right now to grab it on your way out the door Friday :)

Thanks so much!

SBRC Clarification

SBRC clarification

3rd Annual HUNGER GAMES...not a quarter Qwell

That's right people...our nurse and your AP have been looking around the building and decided the time has come!!! So, if you are interested, please respond below to let us know if you would like to volunteer as tribute :) If you would like to take up this challenge, we will begin the week of the 30th with Weigh In's.

Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor!

Background Knowledge Training

There is a training scheduled for Tuesday after school. The trainer is David Noel. It is not optional and it is for all professional staff. If for some reason you cannot attend, please speak to either Betsy or myself.

Life is What Happens When You're Making Other Plans

Big image