Thursday, June 22, 2023

Students take ownership of their learning through Reciprocal Teaching

I want to focus on my craft to be inspired and to inspire excellence in educators in order to cultivate and motivate inquisitive students through collaboration and positive conversations. 

I like to begin my posts with my purpose, my why. Unfortunately educators are leaving the profession in droves. According to a February report by the National Education Association, "A staggering 55 percent of educators are thinking about leaving the profession earlier than they had planned." There are many reasons for this exodus; from uncontrolled student behaviors, lack of support, and financial. I just completed my 25th year of teacher and have no plans leaving this profession. As I reflect on the question "why" I quickly respond with "because I still get excited when I see the light bulb go off in a student". How do I keep excited and focused on my purpose, my why? I focus on the positive, build relationships with my students, parents, and colleagues, and I strive to learn something new every year. The last point is the purpose of these blogs. I plan to share one strategy, best practices, classroom "idea", a month with the hopes that you try them. In turn, I would love for you to share what works for you!

This month we will focus on Reciprocal Teaching.

Reciprocal Teaching is an activity where students "teach" in a small group setting. Each student takes on a role: Predictor, Clarifier, Questioner, and Summarizer.

Day 1  
The first day of Reciprocal Teaching is reserved for reading and recording. Prior to students reading the text, we box in the title and turn it into a question.  This sets the purpose of reading.  We then number the paragraphs and write "ST" at the end of each paragraph.  "ST" stands for "Stop and Think".  I will also pre-teach specific vocabulary words prior to students reading the text independently. Once vocabulary words are explicitly taught students make a prediction about what they will learn while reading the text and record it their prediction in their recording sheet.  Students then read the text independently and record at least 3 words or phrases they need clarified and at least 3 questions that could lead to a group discussion.  The last step calls for students to write a short summary.

Day 2
The second day of Reciprocal Teaching is reserved for group discussions. Students sit in groups of 4 and each student is given one of four roles: Predictor, Clarifier, Questioner, and Summarizer. The predictor shares his/her prediction then calls on teammates to share their predictions. Students use this opportunity to use accountable talk and agree or disagree with evidence. The Clarifier facilitates the discussion by sharing a word or phrase he/she needs clarifying (including the paragraph where the word can be found). The facilitator reads the sentences that include the word or phrase and the surrounding sentences. He/She then leads a conversation to determine the meaning. I, as the teacher, circulate listening to the conversation, I jot down words that we need to discuss as a class. The third facilitator is the questioner. This student begins the conversation with a question beginning with why, how, or what if. The questions should lead to a conversation. The questioner asks other members of his/her team to share questions. Before the Summarizer facilitates the conversation, students are given time to revise their summaries. The summarizer begins with his/her summary. Teammates will utilize accountable talk protocols to agree, disagree, or add-on. All discussions must include evidence.

Reciprocal Teaching is just one strategy I use during my reading block. To keep this "exciting" for students we alternate this with other strategies. There are many videos to watch prior to trying this with your students. Some videos are listed below.


Sunday, May 21, 2023

Math Detectives - Creating mathematicians in a fun and engaging way!

"Why do you do what you do"?  This is a question that is asked of me on many occasions.  I'll be honest, it took me a while to craft a statement or answer to this question.  Why do I teach?  Why do I stay in education? I had to seriously think about my "why".  After careful deliberation and thought, I finally crafted my why!

I want to focus on my craft to be inspired and to inspire excellence in educators in order to cultivate and motivate inquisitive students through collaboration and positive conversations. 

In the end, my "why" is my students! 

So, as an educator what excites me?  Outside of my students, learning new strategies, best practices, and/or activities excites me.  When I learn something new I am excited to implement that strategy, best practice, or idea in the classroom.  This keeps me going!  My goal every new school year is to learn ONE new strategy, idea, or best practice that I can implement in my classroom.  So, I decided that every month I will share ONE idea, strategy, or best practice that has worked for me. In turn, I invite YOU to share what works for you!  I would love to learn from YOU! 

Over the last 25 years in education I have learned so much!  Today I will talk about "Math Detectives". Many years ago I was watching Amazing Race, one of my favorite television shows.  While watching an episode I asked myself, how can I implement this idea with students? After collaborating with my colleagues and my principal, we decided to give "Math Detectives" a try which proved to be very successful. We decided to make this a morning math group and opened it up to third, fourth, and fifth grade students who were proficient in basic math skills and problem solving and we would meet every other Tuesday at 7:00 a.m. We divided these 25-30 students into 5 or 6 groups.  Each group would receive an initial math problem to solve. After a correct solution, the group was given a clue that would take them to another classroom where they would find another math problem to solve.  This would continue a second time and then a third.  The third clue would take the students to the last classroom where they will find a treat. This past school year we introduced lock boxes to our math detectives. As students solved the math problems, the solution unlocked the box which housed the clue that takes the detectives to the classroom.  This was repeated two more times.  The last clue took students to their treat!  

Question:  What supplies are needed?
Answer: Each Math Detectives need a notebook and a pencil.  In a 30 minute period we created three questions and three clues.  The questions came from our state website and assessments.  The clues were created using classroom bulletin board information.

Question:  What kind of treats did you use?
Answer: Chips, candy, donuts.  I did apply for and received a grant that was used to purchase the lock boxes and some of the treats.

Question:  How did you decide who too invite to Math Detectives?
Answer: As a team we sent an email to third, fourth, and fifth grade teachers.  Each teacher chose 3 students who were proficient in basic math and problem solving skills.  We then sent a permission form to parents.  

Question:  How long do you run math Detectives?
Answer: We started in September and ran through May.

Students take ownership of their learning through Reciprocal Teaching

I want to focus on my craft to be inspired and to inspire excellence in educators in order to cultivate and motivate inquisitive students th...