in musings, teaching, technology


I have always had a difficult time with labels. I am quite resistant to them when it comes to books, even more resistant to them when it comes to my posts, and totally impossible when it comes to my students.* I suppose it’s because the only reason I can see for a label is to describe something accurately, and I’ve never actually met a label that does.
I’ve stuck my blogger labels in the sidebar though. While I was debating that move, I went through all of the labels I already had and realized they were hitting ridiculous numbers. In my effort to describe everything accurately, I had split so many hairs that the connections between posts (which I think are the real purpose behind the labels, the groupings) were non-existent. So I went back and edited any category that had only one entry.** I tried grouping some posts together; I tried piling labels on to certain posts that seemed to cover a lot of ground, and I took a hard look at the trends that I saw coming out of the process.
The result?

I do a lot of talking about reading (not surprising), not enough about writing, and hardly any at all about Social Studies. It was interesting because I’ll freely admit that, except for a bit more about writing, I bet this is roughly how my energies are divided, and I need to do better than that.
I need to think and write and research more about writing. I need to spend more energy on Social Studies (and not let the textbook get me so frustrated). I need to keep my ideas and enthusiasm about reading translating into my classroom.
This sort of reflection is one of the reasons I started this blog in the first place. It’s interesting to see it in practice.

*I think this is because so many of our labels in schools are…limiting (“below grade level”, “ELL”, even “Advanced” miss so much of the complexity that is what makes middle school such a unique time in a child’s education.)
**okay, I kept one label (organization) that only had one post. I really, really need to get more organized. I figured it would be a good reminder.

  1. I totally agree with you about labeling children. They often lead to stereotyping and minimizing the very real differences between individuals. My brother and I both tested into the “gifted” category but we were totally different types of students. I was the little teacher’s pet straight-A overachiever while he barely graduated high school. He would work hard & get A’s in subjects he liked (math, music, some science) but would do the bare minimum required to pass in courses he didn’t (anything requiring writing). Labeling us both as “gifted” students might tell a teacher about our potential, but very little about actual performance.

  2. I go through phases with labeling my posts, mostly because I write about such diverse topics.

    If you are looking for dialogues about instructional strategies, you might want to try Classroom 2.0. Take a look and let me know if you join. 🙂

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