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Prairie Pedagogy: The End Is the Beginning?

Prairie Pedagogy: The End Is the Beginning?

January 17, 2024


Dear WinkWorld Readers,

Readers of WinkWorld know that I have been writing about prairie pedagogy because it fascinates me to see the powerful teaching and learning (a.k.a., pedagogy) that is going on in these tiny, tiny schools on the prairies. In addition, I want to help maintain the history of these schools. Missy, the teacher, is my second cousin, and I find her exceptional as a teacher. She pays no attention to me when I’m in the classroom which I love.

I am crazy in love with the students of this school.

However, let me be honest: The reason I am particularly motivated to finish this document is because I feared that the enrollment (seven students) was just too small, and the district might have to close the school. However, at the beginning of January 2024 we had a population explosion with five new students being enrolled.

Dare I hope? Perhaps what I feared will not happen; perhaps, the end is just a new beginning?              

In this issue of WinkWorld, I will share several news items which interest me. First, I will share two short stories of the first week of school when five new students joined the previous seven students. Next, I will share about an international teacher literacy book club. In addition, I plan to update my photo on my web page. Finally, I will share a bit of health news.

Two Short Stories about the First Week of School in January 2024

Winter day playground
Winter day basketball hoop

It has been cold and frosty on the kids’  playground.

During the first week of class the reading lesson was on inferences. Suddenly, one of the new students had an a-ha moment. In their family’s chicken coop, he found some broken eggs, and he inferred that they had a skunk in the area.

Two of the new students and one of the previous students were studying the American Revolution by making invisible ink quotes like the spies used during the American Revolution.

The students and I each have an amaryllis plant. We share pictures every day or two as our flowers begin to open. Missy said that when the students entered the classroom on January 3rd after a long two eek break, there were audible gasps as they saw what the amaryllis had done in their absence.

Winter amaryliss
Winter amaryliss
Winter amaryliss

A Story about an International Teacher Literacy Book Club in Montenegro

Out of the blue I received a message from Marina Avvakumova, one of my treasured Masters’ students from years ago in Mallorca, Spain. She had a very specific question: What should be the first book which they use in an international literacy teachers book club? I have considered this question in other occasions, and I knew immediately what my answer would be.

The Power of Reading

by Stephen Krashen

I believe it relates equally well to first language acquisition and also to second, third, etc. language acquisition. Experienced and novice teachers will find it meaningful and compelling. Teachers in this group represent the following countries: US, UK, Turkey, Russia, and South Africa.

Here are a few links about this Krashen book

Deb Harrison, a teacher in WY, wrote this article telling about her experience with The Power of Reading when she was a grad student in one of my classes.

The post below is a fun Powtoons created by Deb, also.

Marina now lives and teaches in Montenegro. Where in the world is Montenegro?

Meet dear Marina

Time Marches On: A New Photo

Turns out, I no longer look exactly the way I did about 10 years ago when that previous photo was taken.

A word about health

This is the first WinkWorld I have done totally on a dictation program. The reason for this is that I have been diagnosed with essential tremors in my hands. I always sort of knew I was going to get this as it is hereditary, and I have watched several in my family who had it. It has taken my script away from me and much of my ability on the computer keyboard. This is a real bummer, but the good news is that there are no negative cognitive consequences that come with essential tremors.

Thank you to Missy Urbaniak, Marina Avvakumova, Stephen Fleming, Deb Harrison, and Dawn Wink.




  • Sharon Biegen

    You’re still as beautiful and resilient as ever! Hoping Brian and I might get a chance to see you when we arrive in Tucson next week.

  • Sharon Whitehead-van Loben Sels

    I love the pictures of the school, the students, the amaryllis, and your updated photo! I always enjoy reading your work and your first book, Critical Pedagogy: Notes From the Real World changed my life! I wish I could come and visit you in Tucson. :). I am sure this dictation will not slow you down for a minute. Love to you!

    • Joan Wink

      Thanks, dear friend. I am happy that you enjoy the stories. Stay warm in Michigan.

  • Michelle Hawkins

    My birthday buddy… thinking of you and know your strong will may change how you do things, but not that you will get them done. Hope to see you and the other Encantadas very soon!

  • Carolyn Schwickerath-Kirkham

    Loving this positive & delightful writings from your “pen” & warm heart my long-time Friend! I fondly recall the beautiful seeds that were planted & nurtured in my 4 Kids mubds & Spirits, during the amazing year in a “Prairie School” the year we lived on a Ranch near Williston, ND…before coming to the Cascabel in the Land of Enhancement❤ Your delightful Spirit continues to impact mine, in such positive ways…as does your Beautiful Daughter’s as well💜

  • CJ Roe

    Dear Joan- I am sorry to learn of the essential tremors that are currently taking over your ability to write, but…knowing you, JW, this is not going to stop you from writing, publishing, or other academic endeavors! And, you look fabulous 🙂 always have.
    XOX – Chris

    • Joan Wink

      Hey dear friend and colleague. Thanks for your ever consistent support. Love staying in touch with you. Big hugs.

    • Joan Wink

      Hey dear friend and colleague. Thanks for your ever consistent support. Love staying in touch with you. Big hugs.

  • Janice Herring

    Love you Joan! Keep dancing to your love language on the prairie—- that of positive thinking and action.

  • Janet Towell

    Dear Joan,
    You are an inspiration and as beautiful as ever! I treasure you as one of my dearest friends!! Keep writing!!
    Love, Janet ❤️

  • Ione Stiles

    Hi Joan,
    Loved your 3 short stories. The country school comes alive in your stories & pictures! Would be so neat to visit & see the school in person! The students & Missy have been most fortunate to have your visits & input!
    Stay strong & know you are appreciated by so many! Ione from Mobridge! 😍

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