July 27, 2011

Teach Like Your Hair is on Fire - Part 2

A while back I posted my first reactions to parts of this book. I thought that today I would attempt to finish my thoughts. :) Sorry it has taken me so long.

I think I loved this book because it resonated with several other books I have been reading this summer. Rafe Esquith is a firm believer of recommending books to his students, just like Donalyn Miller from the Book Whisperer. He talks about starting book clubs before, during, and after school. I want to do that! He discusses comparing books to visual representations. (I just read about that in the common core.) I think allowing children to see the movie after reading a book is a great exercise in comparing and contrasting and point of view.   Rafe also a believer in treating students fairly, just like Jim Fay and David Funk. (I love them and plan to share about them at a latter date.)

Rafe seems to echo the things I believe and he has a lot of great ideas. Some of the ones I loved? Just keep reading! :)

How many of you can name, label, and state the capital of all 50 states? What about countries across the globe? Rafe's kids can. He teaches them basic geography and then starts a game. He divides them into teams and asks questions. Teams work together to answer. In order to stop blurting he developed the 4/7 rule. 4 points if you get it right, minus 7 if you were wrong. He starts slowly and builds. Soon students are studying the atlas and reading informational books. How great would it be to be a student in his class? I would love it.
I want to create that kind of atmosphere. I want a social studies corner with maps, globes, books, and writing supplies. I want to complete the Great American Mail Race with my students. Have you heard of it before? Your students write letters to different schools across the Unites States and wait for replies. For more information, read what another blogger has to say HERE.

I want to develop a science center as well. Last year, we did not cover as much science as I wish we had.  We covered weather, habitats, states of matter, and types of animals. We watched a lot of great Brain Pop Jr. videos. (Great website. A little pricey) But I need to do it more actively and let the children explore. How are little scientist supposed to find their passion, unless we provide them with the hands-on experiences? There is so much out there to help you. I want them to see weather in action. I want them to experiment. I want them to get their hands dirty. I hope if you are feeling the same, you take the time to look at some of these activities. Some are great! Some not so great. But consider it a start.

Rafe also talks about PE. Last year I was lucky enough to have a specialist teach PE to my children, but I have the feeling that might not always be true. His advice? Teach them the fundamentals, get them moving each day, teach them to show sportsmanship at all times, work as a team, and apply lessons learned to other parts of life. Something else he suggested was keeping statistics and splitting them up. It's ok to have some children run while you teach a smaller group a necessary skill. (I know it's odd, but that was an Ah Ha! moment for me.)

Still with me? Wow, I'm impressed. :) I still have a bit to say and I think this post is already too long.

The last idea I wanted to share? A classroom economy. Classroom economies - do the work and you get paid. Use that money to bid for items at the class store and pay to use classroom supplies. You must rent your desk every week. If you save up enough money you can buy it. If you save more, you can buy a friends desk. Children learn all about supply, demand, income, and debt in the classroom. Looking for a more detailed plan? Beth Newingham is the one to go to. See her ideas about a classroom economy HERE. Teaching Happily Ever After has some ideas as well, check her out HERE. Or visit Lesson Plan SOS, Here. They have some great printable pages as well.

I know Rafe is most famous for his Hobart Shakespeareans, I am just not quite ready to tackle that idea. Rafe does an excellent job of integrating the arts into his classroom, and if you are looking for an example, you won't do poorly by copying him.

The End - Aren't you glad? ;)


  1. Love Rafe! What an inspiration right? I have read both his books and had the pleasure of hearing him speak a few years ago. He is one of the greats we should all aspire to be. I really like his connectioin to baseball and sportsmanship! He is amazing! Read "Lighting Their Fires" next you won't regret it. It gives great insight and ideas for parental involvement.

  2. Thanks Tammy. I just put it on hold. Can't wait. Until then I still have four more professional development books to read.