Friday, April 25, 2014

Giving Students More Independence

Lately, I have been thinking about how my teaching has evolved with my students since the beginning of the school year. 

I have taught many different reading comprehension strategies, and how to implement them DURING and AFTER reading. I feel like every one of my students has a really good grasp of the concepts. In order to guide the class throughout the year, I always provided some sort of outline or graphic organizer to ensure they were "on the right track". They would work in groups or independently at home and then come together, discuss, and work. 

At this point in the school year, I am asking my students to organize their thinking on their own, though still within a cooperative group. In other words, without graphic organizers or me modeling any sort of strategy, but with each other to use as references and guides.

My teaching has gone from:

1. Watch me do it
2. We do it together
3. You do it on your own 
4. Reflect on your successes and struggles


1. You know how to do it now so I will tell you the objective
2. Work on your own (or with a group)
3. Come together and reflect on what was successful, let's talk about what you learned!

This week was the first week that I implemented this "new way" with them. It was interesting to see my students' growth during their group work and essentially with no assistance. Of course, I am still circling the room to check on their progress and stimulate conversation when needed, but surprisingly (and maybe it shouldn't be so surprising!), they are doing a great job on their own! I could just sit back and watch with a big, proud smile on my face!

What it Looks Like 
Each group was assigned a different book by Seymour Simon (Bones, Brain, Heart, or Muscles). One at a time, they read a page from the book. After each student had read once, they looked back and decided which ideas were MAIN ideas and how to support the main idea with details. 

I noticed that some students were using post-it notes to jot something important down. I also saw students either reread a section or they would ask a group member to explain what they didn't understand. It was really wonderful to see this! It was a very awesome 'teachery' moment for me! One of my students told her group that she didn't really understand the paragraph she just read, so another student used the diagram in the book to explain the concept in his own words. I was thinking, "Yes!! This is what I am talking about!" 

Reflection Time
When everyone was finished, we came back to the carpet and discussed the wonderful moments I saw during their work time. I think it is extremely important to compliment, so when I need to focus on a growing edge, students are open to listening and will see that it is important. I also make sure to ask them to reflect and share what they noticed while working - what was successful, what wasn't. 

How has your teaching evolved since the beginning of the school year? 

*Image background provided by Mrs. Bearfield's Class 
Heart provided by Krista Wallden

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