Choice Words How Our Language Affects Children's Learning by Peter Johnston to be uplifting, reaffirming, and guiding. I immediately used what I was learning when A came off the softball field this summer and I said to her, "I bet you're proud of yourself." Peter suggests turning the who's proud of who to the child for these reasons. "Inviting a child to attend to internal feelings of pride builds upon the sense of agency and at the same time attaches an internal motivation to the activity." The entire book is based on talk, the words we use with and to children through our teaching. However, I think this could be a book parents should read also.
"The teacher has to make something of what children say and do. She makes sense for herself, and offers a meaning for her students. She imputes intentions and offers possible worlds, positions, and identities." The book is about our interactions with students and how we can improve them. Peter has carefully studied "teacher talk" and categorized it into groups with key phrases that are the most effective. Noticing and Naming is based on recognition. It celebrates and shows growth promoting future learning. Identity is a category of phrases that can be used to help foster children's identities as they grow and change, often trying out new things. Agency and Becoming Strategic is essentially things we can say to help promote thinking and verbal articulation. Peter cautions teachers to not only share what students do well but to push for what is next in their thinking. Flexibility and Transfer could also be referred to as Generalizing and is essential for growth and understanding. Another category is Knowing. This refers to the teacher pushing the student to make sure the teacher understands/knows what the student is saying. The last category provides phrases and focuses on building Community.
As I was reading this book I found myself saying, I can't carry this around with me each day but I have to internalize these phrases. I do use a few of them but I need something in my hands. I'm going to type these up and place them in my stack of papers on my clipboard I carry around. There are times when I get overwhelmed, I think I could quickly look at my set of phrases to refocus. Our interactions whether through verbal means or body language is very important with our students. This book is a great resource to help my interactions to be more intentional putting the students first. I also think this book should be a required reading for anyone working through formative assessment, I Can statements, and giving ownership over to our students. I'm going to add this to my list of resources for parents too.