Anita L. Archer, PhD
When I was a Reading First Literacy Coach from 2007 through 2009, I had the unparalleled honor of hearing Dr. Archer give the most outstanding presentation of my teaching career. Several colleagues and I were in Houston, TX, to attend a state Reading First Conference. We chose several break-out sessions that were of particular interest to us personally. The most strategic information from the conference came from a major address by Dr. Archer.
She spoke to a large audience as if we were in a small staff meeting as she walked back and forth across the room. My attention did not move from her voice for any amount of time. Her focus was on engaging the young literacy learner in the classroom…how to bring a five, six, seven year old child to total involvement in your teaching… how to manage your classroom by using repetitive words and motions. I have attached a video in this post. It shows Dr. Archer in an actual classroom putting just a few of her methods into action. Fascinating.
When the grant ended for Reading First in my school district, I chose to return to the classroom. I had finished my master’s in Educational Administration and intended to move forward in my career, but I totally missed being in a regular classroom. Part of my decision to return to teaching came as a result of Dr. Archer’s speech. I could hardly wait to use her ideas in my own classroom.
Each and every strategy worked right away. I was thrilled and thankful that I had the opportunity to hear a true expert teach… in a way that I had wondered about and considered. To teach in a way that seemed comfortable and inclusive to me and to the children. Included on YouTube are complete videos of presentations from Dr. Archer, in addition to short portions of her teaching methods. When I think of the word “expert”, I cannot think of a better personal example.
Effective and Efficient Teaching.
How Well You Teach =How Well They Learn
Anita L. Archer, PhD, is an educational consultant to school districts on explicit instruction, the design and delivery of instruction, behavior management, and literacy instruction. She has taught elementary and middle school students and is the recipient of 10 awards honoring her excellence in teaching and contribution to the field of education. Dr. Archer has served on the faculties of San Diego State University, the University of Washington in Seattle, and the University of Oregon in Eugene. She is nationally known for her professional development activities, having presented in every state over the course of her 40-year career.
A Wonderful Children’s Book… It’s Raining, It’s Pouring
Featuring “It’s Raining” (on CD) by Peter, Paul and Mary
Book Release Date: July 1, 2012
Original Recording of “It’s Raining”, 1962
It’s Raining, It’s Pouring.
Illustrated by Christine Davenier
Two years ago, I happened to find this book and CD combination when wandering through the children’s area at Barnes & Noble. I was not aware of the book when it was first published in 2012. I missed two years of watching my children at school become totally enchanted by the song and the whimsical, child-like illustrations.
The entire class was singing the song within two days. They would ask every day if we could sing and read what the class called…
The Rain Song
Honestly, the book’s popularity in my classroom lasted the entire remainder of the school year. The very same reaction occurred this past year…especially on rainy days! The class wrote about the book in their journals, illustrated the book, completed numerous sequence of events projects, discussed the book among themselves… a myriad of activities are possible with It’s Raining, It’s Pouring as the catalyst. The children’s response is the exact result that I would love to have from every book!
The book and the illustrations are truly fun for students and for teachers. The following two paragraphs are portions of Editorial Reviews for It’s Raining, It’s Pouring:
1. Publisher’s Weekly
Davenier’s fluid artwork illustrated the lyrics to Peter, Paul, and Mary’s 1962 recording of “It’s Raining. When rain interrupts a group of kids’ outdoor fun, they head indoors to play hide-and-seek. The folk trio’s lyrics reference the game, and the verses draw in other nursery rhymes (Hey Diddle Diddle; Star Light, Star Bright). One child reads in bed to the ailing “old man” (Grandpa) who bumped his head on a flowerpot. A sweet-natured interpretation with a happy ending…Grandpa is certainly capable of getting up in the morning!
2. School Library Journal
This cozy picture book illustrates the classic song. The appropriately watery, dreamy “illustrations corresponds perfectly with” the lyrics, creating a variety of side stories for readers to enjoy. When the rain starts, Grandpa bumps his head. Meanwhile, Grandma bakes an apple pie and kids peek out from every corner of the delightful house in an indoor game of hide-and-seek. Colorful watercolors provide appealing details and perspectives. The CD features this song and two others, and the illustrations work beautifully with the haunting melody. Both the book and the “new” recording fortunately omit the song’s orginal very sad verse: “Lady Bug, Lady Bug, fly away home, etc.
As Kirkus Reviews states: The original song with its three-part “harmony” is deliciously imagined on these pages. I totally agree with the reviewers and recommend this book for children, teachers, parents, grandparents, and those who love children’s books like I do. Sometimes a children’s book will bring back such happy memories of your own childhood experiences. After I heard this book the first time, I remembered playing hide-and-seek with my cousins at our grandparent’s home. I even remembered the magnolia tree in the front yard, the driveway, and the white two story house across the street. I had not thought about playing at “MeMa and PePa’s” house for years. I loved that house on Noel Drive and I love this book for bringing joy to my class and remembered joy to me!
Decorah, Iowa Eagles
Response to Daily Prompt: Learning
A five year old child in my class this past year came up to me after circle-time and whispered: “Listen, teacher, we have to watch our eagles right now! No way can I wait until after lunch today! Please!, Please!, Please! OK?”… How could I possibly turn down such a sweet and earnest boy begging to see our special eagles? How many five year olds literally beg for a science lesson?
As it turned out, 22 children were begging for our eagles. I didn’t realize that the rest of the class were sitting quietly in their chairs…not working on their “Letter Pp Penelope Pig” books at all…and totally staring at me. Waiting, waiting for my answer. My mind was telling me…Now this is what teaching is all about! I changed the schedule that we were supposed to follow and left literacy for later in the day. I know that some of the highly paid leaders at the administration building would not approve of such a change. Some people simply do not see the true picture very clearly. How sad. But…on to the children!
I quickly told the children to straighten up their tables, because the eagles were ready for our large Smart Board. They literally screamed and clapped for at least five minutes while I turned on my computer, found the right website, and waited for the live feed to appear. Without saying a word, all 22 little feet tiptoed to the circle and sat down in their place. Is this the same totally talkative class that entered my room back in August? Not the same at all.
What made the difference were the Decorah, Iowa Eagles coming directly to us through the magic of very close cameras and completely clear audio. The children never, ever believe that what they are watching is really and truly happening right that very minute. Through the courtesy of the non-profit Raptor Resource Project, we can watch the Mom and Dad Decorah Eagles as they build back their nest, make the nest just right for eggs, Mom lays the eggs, Dad helps sit on the eggs, the babies are hatched, the babies grow and learn to flap their wings.
After school is out for the summer, the eagles have learned to fly and then fledge…they leave the nest to make a life of their own. I encourage the children to watch the eagles during the summer. Many do not have computers at their homes, but they can watch the eagles on the local library computers. We learn as much as possible about eagles and complete as many projects as possible. Honestly, they leave with so much information that they are tiny eagle experts.
Not only has the Rapter Resource Project helped to bring new learning to children near and far, they have made Decorah and other towns special destinations for eagle admirers. The Project creates, improves, and directly maintains over 40 nests and nest sites in widespread locales. Their mission is to “preserve and strengthen raptor populations, expand participation in raptor preservation, and help foster the next generation of preservationists”.
This learning experience is amazing for the children. My classes for the last six years have all focused part of each day from February through May for the Decorah Eagles. Every class has reacted in the same way. The children are not only closer to the world of nature, but they are much closer to understanding the importance of science. Beyond that, the children are engaged and excited about learning. Thank you to the Raptor Resource Project for helping to make my last six years of teaching so very rewarding.
Response to Daily Prompt: Jeopardy
Some people in Texas have been known to say…”News events are like Texas weather. If you don’t like it, wait a minute!”…so true! Just this past week, I left about 1:00 in the afternoon to run a few errands. No Jeopardy from the weather today! Sunshine! No Clouds! Not 101 degrees like last week! Wonderful weather. In less than fifteen minutes, I walked out of a store and this is what I saw:
And the clouds became darker and darker before I even pulled out of the parking lot, but no rain. Probably won’t rain. No thunder. So I drove to the mall…a distance of about two miles. After I parked and before I could out of my car…this happened:
A total deluge of rain began (my radio said…”flash flood alert!”). Help! I simply sat in my car. No way did I want to get in the way of a flash flood. All I originally wanted to do was to buy one wedding gift. Of course, there was no umbrella in my car. How could the weather change so quickly? The weather person just made a big mistake. “Beautiful weather this afternoon! Watch out for storms tomorrow.” Oh…just one day off. That’s not bad. I listened to the rain and to Adele. Nice combination. Sort of peaceful.
Adele finished taking care of the rain and the deluge stopped immediately. Adele is the best at everything, I suppose. The temperature was 89 degrees. Who can complain about that when usual August days are three digits. And our yard really needed the rain more than I needed to purchase the wedding gift. I left to go on back home…only ten minutes or so away. And this is what I found as I turned the corner into our neighborhood:
A few wispy clouds, mostly blue sky, no rain had fallen at all in my neighborhood. Texas weather. You never know. And believe me…Texas weather can put you in some mighty big jeopardy. Tornadoes can happen so quickly. And hail. And high wind. And floods. But…
Snow and Ice…Rarely!