The Proud Father . . .
Jun 2nd, 2010 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

My kindergarten daughter brought home a book from school today, When I Grow Up.  My daughter’s teacher has, throughout the year, had the students complete “Think Books,” where the children draw a picture and write a sentence to explain their “story.” I can tell by the book that the teacher was working on “evidence.” The student had to say what she wanted to be, then explain the reason.  The teacher then assembles the student work and makes a bound book that the children bring home on different nights to share with their families.

What I like about the “Think Books” is that the students are making an authentic product that they share with their families.  There is a certain level of quality when it is shared with many.  Here’s her page:

Maggie's Career Think Book

Writing with purpose
Feb 10th, 2009 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

After dinner tonight, my older daughter Anna (6) said that my wife and I had mail, but she “didn’t know” who it was from.  It contained a “mystery” that we needed to solve.  Each of us had a different letter giving us clues to figure out who and where s(he) was.  We found that she had scattered a breadcrumb trail made of index cards all around the house and it eventually led us to her room.  She was so excited that we found her, but frankly, I am more excited to see what she had done.

You see, Anna had created an piece of writing for a specific, authentic audience.  She wasn’t writing within the confines of directed parameters of some adult, but rather what was interesting to her.  She was certainly utilizing age-appropriate higher order thinking skills, connecting two independent writing samples purposefully, all with a goal of having two individuals work together.  Of course there were spelling and grammar errors, but that is appropriate at this age.  What was important was the conveyance of a novel idea.

Anna was problem finding today, and in my mind, that is one of the most important creative acts in which an individual can engage.  These are the things we need to promote in education in our young children.  Sure we want them to solve problems, but I think we always must keep in the back of our minds, that the problems we ask children to solve are often well-defined: a well-known question, with well known answer.  When we leave our comfort zone and push the boundaries of ill-defined questions and answers that we don’t necessarily develop or know the answers, we allow our children (students) to become more thoughtful, autonomous thinkers.

My students and I can certainly learn from Anna’s example.

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