What’s Old is New Again

The start of a new month often brings the start of new studies, new themes, new goals. As a result, teachers run around trying to gather lessons, books, materials, and charts to teach what they see as new. They worry about how to get kids excited. They rack their brains. They do frantic Google searches. They plead with colleagues. But what teachers actually need to do is to take a lesson from the world of fashion, which is always reflecting, revising, and retiring fashions as each new season approaches. We can also learn from what the fashion industry has known for years:
What’s old is new again.

This week we hope to remind you of what you already have in place (or in the case of charts- hanging in place) and how you can refashion these charts in ways that feel fresh and new. This requires some reflection, some revision, and some reinvention. It will also require some retirement. As seasons change, we are forced to take a look into our closet, reflect on what clothes are in constant demand, which ones might be layered as the temperatures drop, what might need to be added, and which outfits have not been worn in years and need to be retired and given to the nearest charity. We need to look at the charts hanging in our classroom the same way we look at the clothing hanging in our closet.

This is an example of a chart that is no longer needed in December.

When you walk into your classroom first thing in the morning, glance around at the charts on display. Some questions to ask yourself include:
• Which charts have been up since the start of the school year?
• Is the chart still needed? Do most children do what is on the chart without prompting?
• Which charts contain strategies the children still need and use?
• Which charts do the children still need, but they are not using?
• Which charts might work for the next unit? What revisions might make them work?
• What charts do I not see that will be important to make for the new unit ahead.

This Tricky Words chart is extremely relevant to any unit , especially one that focuses on informational texts.

Then you can think about your new or upcoming units of study. Reflection on the new unit of study leads to revision as we ‘re-see’ how our charts are being used, not used, not needed, need revising, or not there. Now think, What’s old is new again. Which charts can I revise, change, adapt, to make them seem new and fresh, in ways that fit with the new unit of study?
• Is it a change of placement?
• A change of text?
• A change of examples?
• An addition to an existing chart?

• What new chart do I need to start?

This chart shows ways to elaborate informational texts and replaces a narrative elaboration chart which focused more on action, dialogue, & feelings.

Any one of these things can make any old chart feel new again and any new charts seem even more exciting. Back in fashion. Right off the runway. Comfortable. Ready to make your own.

And as always, happy charting!

Marjorie Martinelli and Kristine Mraz

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2 Comments on “What’s Old is New Again”

  1. I love your fashion metaphor: way to look at charts in a new way! I have been liberated by your sketch pad tip. My children refer to it all the time and I never conference without it. I’d be glad to send you some photographs.


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