Wisdom from Christopher Lehman

Day two of the conference provided me with two opportunities to learn from Chris Lehman. His topic for the keynote was Making Curiosity the Core. He stated “Kids are our curriculum.” Think about that, it is so true. How often do we live this with our work?

Children are born scientist. They are constantly checking out their hypotheses. Just watch a baby discover hands. Hands wave, can be placed in the mouth, fingers wiggle, hold on to objects, and what else can be done with these hands?

His message reminded us that curiosity is core to our teaching lives. The “what” might be important, but be sure to include the “why.” To be curious there has to be time and space. Do we give kids the time and space to develop their curiosity?

Later in the afternoon, I attended his session on close reading for grades K-2. This is something that he and Kate Roberts are working on right now. The impetus for this work came when his first grade daughter was subjected to thirty consecutive days of close reading of Stellaluna. I love Stellaluna, but how in the world could anyone think this was a good idea?

Loved this: The book shouldn’t be more important than the learner.

You can’t close read in the early primary grades the same way you do in the upper grades. Start with an object or a picture, zoom in to study it closely. Say something about it, think about what was said, add another part to the thought. Repeat. Key question: What’s worth thinking about?

He will be at the All Write conference in Warsaw, Indiana this June. I know I will learn more about close reading for the younger students. This just whet my appetite for the next time I get to learn from Christopher Lehman.chris l.

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22 thoughts on “Wisdom from Christopher Lehman

  1. That photo makes me SMILE! Your thought questioning, “How often do we live this with our work?” made me pause, reverse, and reread. Sadly, not often enough–even though we know the truth of his statement about kids being the curriculum. I just wrote a piece about student-driven learning targets for Choice Literacy and I feel like I have lots more thinking to do about this idea.

  2. Art school is very interesting in the sense that I feel like I am back in kindergarten the way that professors are having me look at things. Instead of looking at objects and events as what they are, we instead investigate why they are this way and how else they can be used. We spent three hours once just experimenting with different ways to use paper.
    I loved this post– we should all try to see the world more how children see it.

  3. love and agree with this line…curiosity is core to our teaching lives…I hope I can go to All Write this summer and hear him in person …this is the stuff we are working on in my district…I hate when we kill the book ! xo

  4. Thirty days with Stellaluna??? Good grief! Children are natural born scientists. I hate that we are squashing that in so many classrooms and learning isn’t fun or playful anymore. I can’t wait to hear what you learn with him later.

  5. I love how you included the importance of not only the what but also the why. I think much of this thought process is being stifled, but doesn’t need to be. I am hoping to be at All Write again this summer so I look forward to seeing you and him!

  6. Oh you are so lucky to be learning with Chris. What a guy! I was wondering why he started focusing on the youngers. I love the mantra: “Kids are our curriculum.”
    Julieanne

  7. Terje says:

    I like your selfie with the celebrity. “What’s worth thinking about?” is a super essential question for reading and life too.

  8. I love your comments about how differentiation for Close Reading is important for grades K-2. Your insight here with how to hone in on a picture or a line is insightful. How sad that Stellaluna, a wonderful book, was demolished, in many ways with 100 days of close reading.

  9. How true. Kids are naturally curious. Time is needed to explore. Of course, all of the testing students take give them ample time to experiment and explore.

  10. Tam says:

    You are wetting everyone’s appetite for AllWrite–another curiosity unfolds. What an important concept for teachers to be reminded about during the busyness of teaching. Love the great picture.

  11. You’re right! Kids are natural inquirers, curiosity bursting from them all the time. It is our job as educators to nurture this by providing time and space to explore.

  12. shaggerspicchu says:

    I am so glad you wrote about curiosity today. I am doing a parent workshop on nurturing curiosity next week. In our classroom we have wonder time twice a week. They are able to investigate, experiment and research anything they are interested in. It is my favourite time of the week and theirs too!

  13. Do we give kids the time and space to develop their curiosity? NO!!! I remember his passion for learning at the ALL WRITE I attended! Tara loves him too.

  14. Thanks for sharing your notes with us! I want to take notes from your notes. Also, thanks for the plug for the All Write conference. Lots of great people will be there! Shel Silverstein as guest author!

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