Thursday, January 3, 2013


I was cleaning out my desk yesterday and I found a pin of a little red wagon along with the thought below.  It seemed like a good message for the New Year!

Some days we skip along, pulling our wagons with great confidence-
So full of energy that the load seems light.
Some days the load seems heavy and we need someone to help us pull our wagons over the bumps in the road.
Some days we are just tired.
We sit in our wagons and let someone else pull us along for a while.
And some days it’s kind of nice to share our little red wagons with a friend.
As you think about yesterday, and make plays for tomorrow, keep in mind that there will be times when you can help pull someone’s little red wagon for a while.  After all, helping to pull each other’s little red wagons is what makes it possible to face the challenges the day brings.

Hint!  Kelly emailed that her school has a "Little Red Wagon Award" that gets passed around by the staff to recognize someone who has helped pull their load.

Learning to ask good questions is a powerful way to improve thinking in students of all ages and is another great tip for 2013.  If you focused on a different tip each week you'd be an expert in no time!

How did you know that?  Encourage children to “think out loud.”  This will help peers develop higher thinking skills.        

Open-ended – Ask open-ended questions, rather than “yes” or “no.”
Avoid judging answers by repeating their response.  “Good thinking!”  “That’s close.”  “I never thought about that before.”  “Kiss your brain!”

Give Time  (Smile! J) – Help children think about what they want to say and provide for individual differences by asking children to smile if they know the answer. 

1-2-3 Tell – Ask a question and then slowly count, “1, 2, 3.”  When you say, “Tell,” the children all say the answer.

Thumbs Up Thinking – Tell children to stick up their thumb next to their chest if they have learned something.  Stick up fingers for each additional thing you’ve learned.

Whisper & Release – Children whisper the answer in their fists.  When the teacher says, “Release,” the students open their fists.

Sign Language (Yes/No) – Teach children the signs for “yes” (wiggle fist in the air) and “no” (touch index and middle finger to thumb like a mouth closing).  You can also cut an envelope in half and write “Yes” on the front and “No” on the back.
How Much Do You Know?  - Children hold up on their fingers from 1-5 to indicate how much they know about a particular topic.

Think Partners – Divide children up into pairs and let them discuss answers.
Children can also review information by “teaching” a friend what they have learned.

Phone a Friend – If children don’t know the answer, allow them to phone a friend (place hand by mouth and ear like a phone) for help.
*They could also “ask the audience” for help with a question.

Written Response – Ask children to write the answer to a question.

Illustrated Response – Have children draw the answer to a question.

Pick Sticks – Ask each child to write his/her name on a large craft stick.  Color one end green and one end red.  Place the red end in the bottom of a can.  Ask a question, and then choose a stick.  That child gets to answer the question.  Return their stick to the can with the red end up.

Choral Response – Children answer in unison.

Student Created Questions – Let students generate their own questions for a review.