Steal Like an Artist

I love this book–Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative.  Austin Kleon probably wrote it for adults, but I think it would be a great to use in the classroom.  What kid doesn’t steal from other artists?  It’s what we DO.  It’s a quick read, has lots of inspirational quotes (for when you need something get you through the day), and contains some cool artwork, too.

Opinion Writing

Some teachers have asked about opinion writing for little kids.  This is one of the Core Standards, but what does it look like?  In my mind, opinion writing can range from kids expressing opinions about favorite books, TV shows, movies, foods, stores, toys and people to kids writing letters to speak out about big issues to students writing reviews about video games, restaurants, and books.

I personally love to teach kids using mentor texts as springboards for ideas.  Here are some books that express opinions and might help young children express theirs.

I Like Books by Anthony Browne

My Grandma is Wonderful by Nick Butterworth

Teeth Are Not for Biting by Elizabeth Verdick

Words Are Not for Hurting by Elizabeth Verdick

The Peace Book by Todd Parr

It’s Okay to Be Different by Todd Parr

Grandpas Are for Finding Worms by Harriet Ziefert

Check back for more titles!


Richness of Experience

I’m reading Martha Beck’s wonderful book, Expecting Adam, her account of being pregnant and raising a kid with Down syndrome.  And I’m thinking: Martha Beck has it exactly right.  She tells about having her son repeatedly tested so that he can attend first grade, a process both endless and repetitive.  After many tests, one day Adam starts faking it, pretending he can’t answer the questions.  But he knows the drill–once the questions become too hard he gets a treat and the testers let him go play.  That day Beck’s realization is this:

“After spending the first decades of my own life in a desperate attempt to pass every arbitrary test placed before me by the educational system and the rest of society, I have to be constantly reminded that the end goal of all this striving is to live joyfully, and that there are often more direct ways of achieving this than conforming to rigid standards set by social custom.”   She goes on to explain how this philosophy becomes her career.  As a career counselor she lives life as a pursuit of joy and suggests to her clients that they “structure their lives around richness of experience, rather than security.”

Wow.  Richness of experience.  So that’s what it’s all about!  And now: Can I actually teach this?  Can I live it and pass it on to others?  I can and I will.

I feel rich already.