Saturday, March 9, 2013

Never Under Estimate the Ability of a Six or Seven Year Old

I've always said that I want to be the voice of the little people.

My students are amazing, really, really amazing. They continue to inspire me on a daily basis yet they are very typical six and seven year olds.  They work hard to read more challenging books more fluently.  When they write they are trying to write "juicier" sentences while remembering proper punctuation and capitalization.   They struggle to understand addition and subtraction yet when the lightbulb goes off they smile from ear to ear. They are typical six and seven year olds.

Far  too often people look at my young learners and all they see is cute. And yes, they are cute, very very cute in fact, but they are so much more than cute.  This week they continued to remind me of how incredible they are.

This week my students continued to work on self assessment.  They reviewed the class generated chart on what good writing looks like and after each writing session they took the time to look at their writing and rate how they did.  Many comfortably shared their learning with a classmate. They set personal goals and are working hard to improve.  They are seeking help from their peers (and me) and they are taking control of their learning.

This week my students were supportive of one another.  They are working on a collaborative project with a local high school. They are reading stories written by high school students (and in many cases way above their reading level) and they are creating illustrations to go with these stories. As a final step they are importing screen shots of their books into Draw and Tell and reading the words in the books to make an iMovie of these books.   They are working together on the recordings and are helping one another read the words.   They are supporting each other so every member of the team can be successful with their reading. Not once did I suggest this to them either, in fact I actually figured the strongest reader in the group would do all the out loud reading for their mini movies. But I was so wrong.  My students are helping each another read and record the stories.

This week my students were extremely patient.  We had a google hang out scheduled with Duck Duck Moose but we had nothing but sound issues, worse than we've had this year.  Yet they were able to hold it together and when directed to blog about the experience while I continued to problem solve they went without hesitation and got right down to work.

This week my students were extremely curious.  They asked questions and shared wonders.  They filled in a wonder wall specifically with wonders for Duck Duck Moose and they were brave enough to  ask them their wonders. They listened closely to the answers being offered and were able to reflect on what they shared with them. Those wonderings continued even after the call ended.  One of my students blog his wonder, and Duck Duck Moose took the time to read and answer it.

This week my students were proud. They shared their work with the world on their blogs and they were confident enough to show Duck Duck Moose what they were creating on their iPads. They smiled when Duck Duck Moose was interested in what they were up to. They were proud when they were tweeted to.

This week my students were helpful.  They said YES when  I told them that a grade two class in our school was wondering if they could help show them how to use KidBlog. They are excited to be the big buddies, helping the older students learn.  They were also helpful when they gave Duck Duck Moose some suggestions of ways they could make their apps better for them.  They took at responsibility seriously and they tried to be helpful.

This week my students were looking out for one another.  When one students was mad and yelling at another student, a third student was not afraid to step in and remind the angry student that it wasn't okay to yell at the other student, even if they were mad at them.  They helped solve a problem, and helped diffuse a situation that could have gotten out of hand.  They did it respectfully, and genuinely as they cared about both individuals involved.

This week my students went after what they wanted.  Twice we have skyped with Mr. S, a math teacher in South Africa, and both times my students were highly engaged and entertained by him.  They have been asking about him again and are wondering when they can skype with him again.  Instead of me doing all the arranging I thought it was important for them to do the requesting.  Taking that seriously this week my students blogged, and wrote to Ms. S telling him why they liked skyping with him and asking if he would skype with them again.

These are just a few of things my "cute" students have done this week.  So yes, while my students are cute, they are far more than just cute.

Never under estimate the ability of six and seven year olds. NEVER!


  1. Sounds like you and your students have created a vibrant learning community.

    1. Thanks Sandi. It was a pretty exciting place to learn. I keep thinking back to where we started in September and how far we have come as a group. It continues to make me smile.

  2. So impressive! I can't wait to meet them. I feel the same way about my grade 8s being underestimated a lot. At this time of year it is easy to focus on the rewards of teaching because by now most kids will be far more confident and in control of their own learning. Good to remember where they, or you as a class, started .... It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to becoming a community of learners. Kudos to you and your kids as your journey continues.

    1. Thanks Val, and we can't wait to meet our "authors" too. It really is pretty amazing how far our students can come in a year.

  3. Karen, I loved this post! It's great to hear about all of your students' accomplishments as they become life-long learners. You have definitely helped set them off on the right path.

    I absolutely agree with you about not underestimating the abilities of a 6 or 7 year old. I used to say the same thing when I taught Grade 1 as well. :)

    More than anything, I like how you're giving students their own voice and encouraging them to speak up for what they want and need. At the beginning of your post, you spoke about "being the voice of the little people." I know that this is often the case, but I'm not sure that it should be. We need to teach our students to self-advocate because as they get older, it's their voice that's going to matter most. I'm so glad to see that you've started doing this in Grade 1.


    1. I love that you noticed my first sentence. I can assure you that I do everything to ensure that my students use their OWN voices to share with the world. Their blogs are a prime example of that. What I should have said is that I will continue to share what my young learners are doing so that their voice is amplified. I find that there seems to be a lot less primary teachers sharing the incredible things their young learners are doing, or that they hide under the excuse of "they're too young". That's where I want to be speaking up, and being the voice for my students. I don't want to take their voice from them, I want to amplify it. If I keep sharing what my students are doing I'm hoping that maybe, just maybe other primary teachers will find ways to give their students a voice too.

      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment Aviva. As you are very well aware you've been a huge inspiration for me.

  4. I love the way you share your thoughts. I feel just the same way about children. They have so much to offer, we are better off if we listen and help their voices be heard. Thank you.

    First in Maine

    1. Thanks Kimberley. We do need to listen more and encourage them to share their voices. I'll keep sharing, and sharing how wonderful they are. One thing I've noticed with having access to iPads is that my extremely shy students are okay speaking in a private place to their iPad and then sharing that learning on their blog with the world. It's powerful to hear the student who barely speaks in a large group setting, clearly demonstrate and share their learning. It most certainly makes me smile. :-)