How do we help our learners apply fiction to real life challenges like school shootings? Maybe, writes Mary Tarashuk, by sharing our own experiences and helping them see that, as Pax’s author says, “Just because it isn’t happening here, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.”
Category: Kids on the Cusp
Mary Tarashuk’s blog
Middle grades teacher Mary Tarashuk confronts the line between preserving childhood innocence and honestly exploring the real world. Are her sudden tears during the daily real aloud of The One and Only Ivan encroaching uncomfortably on that unidentifiable boundary?
Mary Tarashuk’s fourth graders are immersed in Wonder this semester. As they view the new film based on R.J. Palacio’s novel, they are also embracing Auggie Pullman’s story in class. Mary shares resources she is using to enrich their experience in understanding kindness.
When Mary Tarashuk opens herself to the teaching that matters most and invites the “kairos” into her 4th grade class, the learning is deep and lasting. Join her as she reflects on why and how to keep the “chronos” – the task lists and schedules – from nagging too loudly.
As she introduces the idea of symbolism with their first read-aloud of the year, Mary Tarashuk finds a new way to teach her fourth graders about choices. She’s calling this discovery “harnessing the power of paper airplanes.” It’s a great formative assessment tool, too.
Mary Tarashuk is counting on Peter Brown’s fiction picture books to enliven her 4th graders’ adaptation to their new classroom and their first science unit on animal and plant adaptation. The Global Read Aloud, featuring Brown’s Roz the Wild Robot, is in the wings.
Trying to “fit it all in” can lead to frustration and lost opportunities for new educators. As 4th grade teacher Mary Tarashuk looks back to her own first year, she recalls her preoccupation with the ticking clock and how she learned to take time for what matters.
As teens respond en masse to the Netflix series Thirteen Reasons Why, the story of a girl who chooses suicide, Mary Tarashuk considers how difficult topics can be part of learning for her 4th graders and how their read-alouds and personal writing can build empathy.
As she receives the Educators’ Choice Award for her blog post “Teaching By Doing Something Meaningful” at her first national conference, Mary Tarashuk remembers Madeline Hunter’s simple wisdom and considers the teaching power that comes from writing with students.
Positive and constructive self-assessments are what Mary Tarashuk wants for her fourth graders. Recently they used reflective writing to consider their own progress (and the progress of their class) more realistically, and to learn to set personal goals for growth.