Tuesday, January 18, 2011


     Catherine Gewertz reported an interesting study in the Harvard Business Review. It found an employee's good feelings toward work are far more dependent on "making progress," not on incentives or compliments offered. Gewertz sees this, too, with her own children, how much more empowered they feel when new, difficult topics open up to them.
     For some time now, when I've work with kindergarten students in my room and they correctly answer a challenging question, I'll place a small sticker on their arm. "This is a Smart," I tell them. "It shows how smart you are getting." Then, when they line up to leave, I'll ask them how much they had learned in class. Little arms rise.
     According to Harvard and Gerwertz, I am doing something right. Good.
     I give older students paper clips for correct answers during discussions which, by the end of class, they "cash in" for a letter, then for stars on a chart which, in turn, eventually become small rewards. Especially difficult questions might earn two, even three, clips. I justify the process in that it gives a bit of playfulness to class, it gives the students a visual (the clips) of how active they are in class, and it takes very little time to manage.
     But with these older students I may be omitting the very point the Harvard article makes. It should all be about what the child realizes she's acquired, not the incentives. Of course, that has always been my primary intent. I am consistent in my discussions with my five-year olds. Do my 10-year olds understand the same?
     I need to check. Otherwise, I have some changes to make.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

CADERS: Posting # 8

Another CADERS reader for digraphs (ch, sh, wh, th) and blends (gr, st, dr, etc).

(See November 14th for description and purpose of CADERS books.)

          Hush, Hush

Hush, hush.
Josh rests now.

Please don't chat
Or belch

Or fix a bath.

Please don't flush

Or thud
Or munch or crunch.

And please don't whiff
The fish for lunch.

Let Josh rest!