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Book Study-Worksheets Don’t Grow Dendrites!

March 1, 2015 8 Comments
I know that I’m a day late to link up but sometimes life gets in the way!  I am so excited to be a part of this book study with Elizabeth at Kickin’ It In Kindergarten and so many other inspiring bloggers.  My goal for this book study was to not only read and understand Marcia Tate’s book, Worksheets Don’t Grow Dendrites, but to find ways to put her suggestions into practice in my own classroom.  Worksheets do not foster independence, creativity, or higher level thinking and I am so glad this book was introduced to me to help validate that thinking!

Cracking open the book the first quote you see is,
They can’t talk in the hall.
They can’t talk in the cafeteria.
They can’t talk at all!

So stinkin’ true!  Teachers talk ALL.THE.TIME. and our little ones, who need to constantly express themselves to help them comprehend, are not given the opportunity.  I knew this book was for me right after seeing that. 

I feel like I do a good job having my students participate and discuss with each other.  BUT, I can definitely do better!  My students turn and talk a great deal in my class but after reading this first chapter, I realize I need to have more tools given to them to guide their own conversations.  I need to make a chart with sentence starters that the book suggests.  For example..

I realize that…
I agree with ______ that _______.
I would like to add to ________’s idea.
I don’t understand what _________ meant when she said ___________.

Project #1 is definitely making a chart with these to help support my students while discussing! 

I also realize that I let go of using Bloom’s Taxonomy to generate questions for my students. BIG NO NO!  My graduate professors are shaking their heads at me!  I know I need to lift my students from knowledge to apply and analyze.  

I LOVE this chart from literacy guru, Jen Jones over at Hello Literacy.  I used to have a flip book of different questions that correlate with each step in Bloom’s Taxonomy and I need to get that out again!  I’ll show pictures of my flip book on the blog this week!  You can find Jen’s posters on her teachers pay teachers page here, they’re definitely worth a purchase!
Even though I found the information in Strategy 1 so useful, I felt myself nodding along constantly during Strategy 2, Drawing and Artwork. Marcia clearly states that, “A person’s ability to draw and design serves them well in the real world. YES YES YES!  I always felt like a terrible artist growing up, but I need to teach my students that it’s more important to try and create to express your opinions than having your art look PERFECT!
 This year I have tried to give my students more time to create their own art. I love crafts and giving them patterns definitely makes my life easier, but seeing them create their own art is so rewarding!  They are so proud afterwards!
I love using directed drawings after a unit of study in reading or social studies, but after reading this section I know I need to incorporate art into all areas!  These are some examples of our directed drawings after learning about Martin Luther King Jr.  I find my kids’ confidence soar when they’re completed!

After reading our story of the week this week about where food comes from, instead of having my students show their understanding on a worksheet I labeled posters of three main food groups and hung them around the room.  My students were asked to design posters teaching about the foods from the story and where they come from.  Their art, discussion, and team work was something for the books!  Thank you Marcia Tate!  I know I need to try this more with math and science.  Those are definitely in the works!

I can’t wait to check out more bloggers ideas on these first two chapters!  Stay tuned for more discussion to come in the next few weeks!  Thank you Elizabeth for hosting!


  • Recipe for Teaching March 1, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    Love your directed art drawings!!! I am planning to do my first one this month with my kiddos!! Your food posters look great and I bet the kids really enjoyed doing them!! My kids always love when I bring out a big poster to draw/write on! It is definitely super important to incorporate art into different subject areas – kids need time to be creative!! Have a great rest of the weekend!!


  • Jayme March 1, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    Thanks Heather for reading my post! I definitely agree, we need to give our kids more time to be creative! I am so guilty sometimes of making sure I cross off things on my to do list that I don't always give the kids enough time to express themselves! Something I need to work on for sure!

  • Holly March 1, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    Can you believe I've never tried directed drawings? I was never quite sure what the benefit to doing them was…now I do! THANKS!

    I'm with you on the Bloom's…that's on my mind now – which is a good thing!

    Crisscross Applesauce in First Grade

    • Jayme March 1, 2015 at 8:09 pm

      This is only my first year using directed drawings and I'm so glad I started! I felt the same as you before trying them but my kids really view themselves as artists when we make them and look forward to the projects. We made reindeers, Martin Luther King Jr. , and George Washington the other week. Great way to tie art in with other subjects! I'm glad I could give you some ideas!

  • Linda Nelson @ Primary Inspiration March 1, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    I love your drawings, and agree that directed drawing lessons are a hit with the little ones. I also think there's good carryover into their writing from the lessons. Illustrations become stronger and that seems to lead to more details and action in their stories.
    Thanks for sharing your ideas!
    Primary Inspiration

    • Jayme March 1, 2015 at 9:18 pm

      This comment has been removed by the author.

    • Jayme March 1, 2015 at 9:33 pm

      Thank you Linda! I absolutely agree, the stronger and more detailed the students' illustrations are the better their writing will be. They have so much more confidence and can really show what they know in both pictures and words! I can't wait for the rest of the study to see more wonderful ideas from everyone!

  • Jayme March 1, 2015 at 9:17 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.

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    Hi! I’m Jayme! A former elementary teacher turned stay at home mom sharing toddler activities, mom tips, and educational resources to help you learn and play with your children. I believe in the power of PLAY and creating meaningful activities for you and your little ones to enjoy together.

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