Monday, September 17, 2012

Where there's a need, there's a will...PART 2

Last week, I posted about my daughter and the role of motivation.  I have since come across another example of motivation at work for inspiring new learning and growth. 

My daughter turned four in April.  She has known her letters and sounds since she was two.  I had thought that sometime in the past year, she would just automatically start leaving me notes around the house and drafting some of the stories she orally fabricates with her nonstop talking (anybody else live with a 4-year-old?). 

I knew that she knew how to stretch her words orally to hear some of the sounds but, unless I really pushed her to do it (which just didn't feel right), she was not initiating any writing on her own.

Until last week...

We started doing a Morning Message at breakfast.  Each morning, I sit at the table and write a simple message to my girls and include something about our plans for the coming day.  Every other day, after reading through the message together, I introduce a new sight word (I, is, and, etc.) that I embed within the message and Amity circles all of the words she knows.

Yesterday before dinner, Amity was coloring.  She yelled into the kitchen to tell me that she was making a card for her friend Maren's birthday.  I asked her if she wanted me to tell her how to spell her friend's name and she replied by saying, "No!  I already did!" 

I came in from the kitchen to see the scene below.  DR  MN  (Dear Maren)

It's a tiny start but it made my teacher heart so happy!  Did she hear all of the sounds in the words?  No.  Do I care?  Not at this point!  I am just so excited that she has taken this step as a writer. 

What caused her to take that step?  Two things:  the MOTIVATION to do it and a MODEL to imitate.

When we are hoping for our bilingual learners to take the next step, we need to make sure that those two elements are in place. 

1.  Do they have the MOTIVATION to do it?  Have they been given an authentic purpose that inspires them to pursue the task?

2.  Have they had the opportunity to consistently observe a good MODEL?  Have they seen the process and procedures to create the type of product they are motivated to create?

As you look at your standards and proficiency levels, is there something that you know your students are capable of doing but you haven't seen them try it yet?  Maybe you can create the need and show the way, and the WILL will come!

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