Monday, July 08, 2013

20 Ways to Draw a Tree by Eloise Renouf

It is that time of summer when I am thinking hard about those first messages I want to give my new students about the classroom they'll be entering.  Peter Johnston's words have lived with me for years and as I think about routines and classroom organization, I am always thinking about the subtle messages these things in schools give to our young children. So, I was thrilled to discover a new book called 20 Ways to Draw a Tree and 44 Other Nifty Things from Nature: A Sketchbook for Artists, Designers, and Doodlers. I was immediately drawn to the title and checked it out.  I love so much about this book and am thrilled that there are others in the series.

I am not an artist and I don't actually pay much attention to visuals. I've only started to a little bit recently as the world is made up of more visuals.  So this book is all the more fascinating to me. I guess I never realized how many different ways there are to draw a tree or a leaf or a bird or a flower.

So, back to why I bought this book. I want my students to get the message right away that there are lots of ways to do things. That there are not "right' and "wrong" answers and that there are so many ways to problem solve and to think about things. So many ways to approach things. So many amazing ways to see something and so many ways to think about something. And I think this book gives that message.   Although this book is designed to help you experiment with drawing (and I imagine it will invite lots of kids to do just that), it will also give the messages I want them to get when they walk into our classroom.

I'm not quite sure how I'll use the book--whether I'll figure out a way to make it some sort of invitational wall display or whether we'll do some playing with it the first few days of school or what. But I know it will serve some purpose during those first few important weeks of school. And I can see kids going back to it throughout the year and just looking at it. There is so much to see. Such an amazing book!

5 comments:

  1. All students at my school keep field journals, and this will add to the help teachers give to them during our field studies. Looks good, Franki! Thanks!

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  2. Sounds like such an interesting book - especially in the ways you are thinking of using it, Franki. How wonderful to open the year with the idea that:
    "there are lots of ways to do things. That there are not "right' and "wrong" answers and that there are so many ways to problem solve and to think about things. So many ways to approach things. So many amazing ways to see something and so many ways to think about something."

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  3. Franki~
    I too love the message of thinking in in different ways and working to solve problems in different ways. Last year our gifted specialist spent time in each of our rooms helping us to discover this very message. This message is powerful and necessary. I will be adding this book to my collection. I also enjoyed Stuck by Oliver Jeffers in deliver the message of many ways to solve problems and perserverence.

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  4. Franki,
    Today I attended our school's workshop on a new math curriculum that is going to be as close to Common Core style math as we can get right now. Do you by any chance know or use Investigations? What I loved was thinking how empowering this way of learning math is. It's all about thinking and building knowledge. So I was thinking during it how great it would be if all the teachers could read Peter Johnston's Opening Minds. I bet many don't know Choice Words either. He was talking about math and how we need to teach kids how to struggle and persevere. Let them problem solve and come up with their ideas and strategies first. It was what I had always wished for with math, but did not have all the tools I needed. It's all about knowing and valuing. He talked about factual, procedural and conceptual knowledge. Being so immersed in ELA of late, I had just moved my math inquiry to the back burner. Elementary teachers have so much on their plates, but there does seem to be a connection.
    Really love your post and the ideas!
    Janet F.

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  5. Good message! Thanks for the review and your thoughts, Franki.

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