Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Opening Minds #cyberPD Part 1

Opening Minds by Peter H. Johnston
 Part 1

Before I begin my reflection about Opening Minds by Peter H. Johnston, I would like to thank Cathy Mere (@CathyMere) at Reflect & Refine: Building a Learning Community for hosting this week's #cyberPD, Jill Fisch (@jillfisch) at My Primary Passion who will be hosting July 18th (chapters 4-6) and finally Laura Komos (@Komos72) at Our Camp Read-A-Lot who will be hosting July 25th (Chapters 7-9).

Chapter 1
Page 7
On page seven there is a cartoon with the caption, "Honey, when you grow up I want you to be assertive, independent and strong-willed.  But while you're a kid, I want you to be passive pliable and obedient."

When I saw/read this, I immediately thought of my own daughter and how important it is that she doesn't get a teacher that thinks this way.  She is and always has been a very assertive, out spoken and sometimes demanding child.  Some day, this personality will get her far, but not in elementary school.  Often times this is the kind of personality that drives teachers crazy and gets on their last nerve.  This was a great reminder that we all need to respect, value, appreciate and nurture all personality types and traits.

Page 6-7
"We open our mouths and our parents or our previous teachers come out.  Changing our talk requires gaining a sense of what we are doing, our options, their consequences, and why we make the choices we make."

How often does this happen has educators.  It is easier to practice what has been ingrained into us than to venture out of our comfort zone.  As a parent and an educator, I want to do better.  The key for me to doing better and changing is reading, reflection on what I am doing based on what I have read and making the needed changes.

Page 7
I loved this quote that ended the chapter:
"Make no mistake, when we are teaching for today, we are teaching into tomorrow."

Chapter 2
Chapter two was spent discussing dynamic-learning frame verses a fixed-performance frame.  I spent much of the chapter reflecting on me as a person and an educator and what kind of frame I have.  I found myself thinking of instances where I would consider myself both.

I really found the three major points of influence for helping children develop dynamic-learning framework useful:
  • "what we choose to say when children are successful or unsuccessful at something--when we give children feedback or praise" (p. 18)
  • "the way we frame activities" (p. 18)
  • "what we explicitly teach children about how people's brains and minds work" (p. 18)
A final take-away from chapter two is something that I look forward to saying to parents at our Curriculum Night.  I plan on sharing that second graders, like everyone make mistakes.  We will not be concentrating on what the mistake is, but what can be learned and what can be done differently.  In the throws of the day this is something I need to remind myself too.  I know at times, I find myself concentrating on what a student did, not on a learning experience that they can take-away from.

Chapter 3
Throughout chapter three, I kept thinking about the importance of guiding children through questions.  The questions I ask and how I phrase them is important in promoting students to take on a dynamic-learning framework.  In addition, by guiding children through questioning, they are naturally engaged in discovery, analyzing and thinking about what they are doing and what they can change to become better.

Here are some key questions/phrases I took away in the chapter:

  • How did you do that?
  • How did you know that?
  • How could we figure that out?
  • What are you thinking?
  • Thanks for teaching us....
"Asking children, "How did you do that?" gives them a reason to retrace their steps in accomplishing something" (p. 32).

A final thought:
Already, this book is transforming the way I look at what I am doing and how I can change and implement those changes into the talk in my classroom.  I look forward to continue reading to help guide my thinking and change.


  1. Barbara,
    Thanks for joining the conversation. I'm always amazed how little nuggets slip by as I read a book, but are brought to light by others in their posts. Your quote from page 7, "Changing our talk requires gaining a sense of what we are doing, our options, their consequences, and why we make the choices we make." is so important. Making changes does mean we need to be aware of the choices we are making and their impact. I'm guessing that means noticing those things we need to change, but also those things we need to continue. I'm often struck by how often students don't realize the things they do that really make shifts in their learning. It is likely true for us, as teachers, as well.

    Much to ponder. Thanks for sharing and helping to spread the word about #cyberPD.


    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment on my post and for organizing. Looking forward to this week's reflections.

  2. Barbara,

    I, too, really connected to this quote:

    "We open our mouths and our parents or our previous teachers come out."

    I find that I pick up words and phrases that people around me use every day even as an adult - imagine what language kids pick up daily. I once taught at a school where my Literacy coach used the phrase, "You are so smart!" with kids all the time. I ended up picking up that phrase even though I didn't want to and had to work hard to remove it from my daily language. Examples like these really bring home the point about how language seeps into our unconscious mind and can change our behavior and our thinking. Now I try to remind myself daily to think about the words I use and start good language habits in myself and my students.

    1. Thank you for responding to my post, Jill. I must admit that I have been guilty of saying such things as, "that was awesome thinking" or "great job". This is going to be a real shift for me to try not to use.

  3. I love, love, love that you'll be sharing the idea of learning from mistakes at your curriculum night with parents! Great idea! I questioned how we would even begin to change the thinking of students when many are living with fixed performer parents, but this is one way to change the mindset of parents!

    As Cathy mentioned, I love the little bits of info or quotes I missed in my initially reading that is brought to light by other readers. This is why #cyberPD works! Thanks for sharing your insights!


    1. Michelle,
      Thank you for taking the time to respond to my post. Educating parents as to what I am doing and saying in the classroom is an important step in educating their children.

  4. Barbara,
    I have to agree with Michelle; I love your idea of sharing the idea of learning from our mistakes at curriculum night! What a strong message this sends, both in academic and behavioral situations. I liked the way you also put the focus on asking children how they did something. I think this really empowers them! So glad you joined in the conversation!

  5. Barbara,

    I love how you write about the importance of guiding kids through questions. I agree it is so important. The question stems are ones I want to use as well. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Barbara,
    I loved your post! I particularly liked (and may borrow) your idea of talking to parents about the concept of the process of learning being so important. Thanks so much for sharing.

  7. Barbara,
    You Curriculum Night idea is a good one. I think parents would benefit from understanding our views, as teachers, on making mistakes. I think I will share this information with my parents too. I'm learning so much about enriching classroom conversations and helping students operate from a dynamic learning framework as a result of reading this book. Thanks so much for sharing your learning and thinking.