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Around the Campfire: On Benchmarks and Wonder

No TIP today, rather, a reminder and an encouragement!

While reading through our Blackbird & Company ELA Benchmark materials, I was awestruck.

Just to hold in my hand a concise stack of pages detailing what a child will learn over their childhood—just in learning to read and write—was both a testimony to what it means to be human and to the powerhouse that is the human brain. Let’s take, for example, the first thing on the list. ”Holds book right side up, turns pages moving from front to back.” We have all seen a toddler holding a book upside down, pretending to read. It’s really a small miracle how one day something just clicks in their brain and they know to turn the book around.

When you think of all the tiny parts of language arts coming together over the span of a child’s early years, it can seem like a daunting task to be the teacher.

How will I hit all those small pieces?

Having two adult children, it’s fun to reflect back on those years and realize how many of the bits and pieces naturally came to my children (at different speeds, of course). I didn’t actually have a checklist of all the small parts (thank goodness or I might have freaked out). Don’t get me wrong, we had our big bumps, especially my son, who did a stint of ELA remediation at Linda Mood Bell. But, it is amazing, each child’s capacity to learn to decode and encode language while growing a love for good books and becoming motivated to share their unique ideas. I just felt this moment of extreme gratitude for what it means to be human, gratitude that all us educators are in this rich vein of motivating young writers to eventually raise their voices in the wide world.

Keep pressing in! The work is worth it!