My grandson Miles, age 7, spent a few days with us in Brookings last week while his brother and sister were away at “sleepover” camp. Miles had a chance to experience some of the differences between life in the San Francisco Bay area and a tiny coastal town in southern Oregon. We’re hoping that he had as much fun at “Camp Grandma and Grandpa” as the other kids did in the Santa Cruz mountains.
As we were driving up to Brookings, Miles told me that he had been thinking about a question for a long time and had never been able to find the answer. Here’s what he asked:
“How come when you pull your hair out it doesn’t bleed even though it’s inside your body?”
He was really curious, so when we stopped I drew the layers of skin and the hair follicles as best I could remember from teaching 4th grade a hundred years ago. I made a guess about why hair doesn’t bleed, but it turned out that my “hypothesis” was wrong. (The good news about that is that Miles might remember my mistake the next time the word “hypothesis” comes up.)
As we dove on I remembered an Edublogs site I ran across a few weeks ago. It’s called “The Science Master” and is run by a teacher in the UK. He invites kids to ask questions and promises to answer each one. As it turned out, not only did this teacher on the other side of the world answer Miles’ question, but he has now replied to a follow-up question that Miles and his friend Asher asked.
The reason I’m particularly excited to find this site is that it’s a great example of Core Competency #2: “Use technology/internet to collaborate and publish.”
I have intentionally stayed out of the controversy around the Common Core Standards, but when I decided to move forward with this book I knew I needed to find out about the Core Writing Standards. I started with this link: ANCHOR STANDARDS for WRITING K-12
As I began clicking around on the rest of the CCS site, I quickly became overwhelmed and realized how grateful I am that I am not bound by the system anymore. How I wish that they had stopped with the Anchor Standards and let creative teachers take over from there! The 10 Anchor Standards on that page are simply what good teachers have always been doing ,,, with the exception of #6 which addresses using technologies which were unheard of when I left the classroom! (How do you use TWITTER to collaborate with peers??? YIKES!)
Chapter 4 of Learning to Write / Writing to Learn will explain why I have chosen to base the “10 Core Competencies” on the Common Core Writing Anchor Standards. The 10 Competencies are not “standards,” but are rather what we want kids to know and be able to do when they leave school. HOW we go about getting them to that point will determine their success – and ours. As we move through this time of profound change, my hope is that new approaches toward learning will become internalized enough so that teaching will once again become a joyful ART.