Saturday, August 18, 2012

Summer Reading: Opening Minds

Summer is a great time to catch up on books I have been wanting to read. I have been looking forward to Peter H. Johnston's Opening Minds: Using Language to Change Minds. I loved his earlier book, Choice Words, which explored how the words teachers choose when they respond to their students can have a major impact.

In Changing Minds, this idea is explored further. It has given me food for thought as I prepare for this new school year. Peter Johnston draws on research and anecdotal observations to show how some words ("You are so smart." "You are so good at math or art or writing, etc.") support a static view of students that can undercut further effort and result in students playing it safe. Other words ("Wow, you worked really hard on this." "I can see the strategy you used to solve this." "You have communicated your idea clearly.") support a more process oriented approach to learning that encourages students to stretch, risk, and grow. He goes on to further explore how our words can set the tone for our classroom and for our students' interactions with others.

The words I use as I teach, at times, just come from habit. This year I want to keep Changing Minds in my mind and make more intentional choices about the words I use as I respond to my students.

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