Early this morning I called Kaiser’s advice line to discuss Doing Something about my returned sore throat, cough, ear ache and lackluster energy.

The woman on the line quickly assessed my medications for allergies and asked if I am asthmatic.  I told her my pitiful recent history of having the infamous flu cough for the month of February, missing two days of school for a 4 day stint in bed, and staying abed the next weekend and all of my free evening hours.  I was describing a ground hog, not my life.

“Uh huh, uh huh,” she sympathized along.

“And then, after being well for exactly one week, Friday night my throat goes into a flaming infection and the energy drains out of me again.”

More interesting to the nurse was probing for symptoms of developing pneumonia.  I could see I was going to be diagnosed as another flu case with the usual hydrate, rest and take cold meds solution.  I slouched down with the phone to my ear, no longer having the energy to resist her assessment.  My last ditch plea for medical relief was to ask why I would be sick again so soon?  She said it was simply that I came down with the flu again.

“It’s because you work with children,” she concluded as I mumbled my thanks and rang off.

I am not very good at resting or doing nothing, but I’ve been pretty good today.  I sat up awhile and finished reading

IMG_2594 Choice Words: How Our Language Affects Children’s Learning by Peter H. Johnston.  This is by far the best read on literacy and teaching in awhile, and I pink-highlighted points with especially my morning group of 4/5th graders in Leveled Literacy in mind.  I have been working to have them lead discussions and modeling how to affirm someone else’s thinking.

From my experience with reading and writing workshop, I have the gist and the philosophy that Peter Johnston carefully documents from classroom observation.  What was richer for me was the research he wove into his narrative. Here’s a symtom some intervention students suffer. [pg.82]

Children who focus on getting praise or on not looking foolish
have a much harder time becoming literate than children who focus on engagement
in learning activities.  [Niemi and Poskiparta 2003]

Chapter 4 in it’s entirety is a wonderful exposition of agency.  Some teachers are very good at building a sense of agency in children…the power of narratives is in there, too.  Help children tell agentive stories about their performance.

I got the best advice today from Peter Johnston’s book.  And, yes, dear Kaiser nurse, it’s because I work with children.

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