This week's chapter dove right into the meaty question - How can we put our thinking (and that of our students) on display and make it real and authentic with our kiddos?
Debbie Miller reminds us right at he beginning that this is a process - one that looks different at different times of the year. But whatever we do, we need to remember to base our decisions in our beliefs to get where we want to be. I had a whole lot of thoughts on this chapter, so I'm going to use some guiding questions to keep things organized.
Honestly, I try to do this A LOT in my classroom and some of the examples Debbie gave let me know I was on the right track. I'm always sharing my thinking with students when we write, when I'm doing a purposeful read aloud, when we're learning new things, when we're figuring out a math problem or concept, when I'm decoding a word... lots of times!
The part I need to work on is the actual display part. I really like this quote: "Why is making thinking public and permanent in our classrooms a great thing for us to do? It lets students know that thinking matters." I need to be more purposeful in writing down what we say - what my students say, not just what I say - so we can refer to it later. I need to let THEIR words become the model, rather than a preconceived way I want it to sound. Definitely something to work on!
Lots and lots of discussion and questioning! For the past few years, our school has had the true pleasure of working with a consultant who has helped teachers improve in so many ways. I worked with this gentleman as he gave a presentation to parents on how they could encourage early literacy with their children. The best piece of advice he gave, one that has stuck with me and I use in my classroom religiously, is to not answer questions for students. Ask them what THEY think. He was using examples like little ones asking, "Why can't we go outside today?" or "Can we go to Grandmas tomorrow?" Rather than just answering, ask, "What do you think?"
I have put this to use in my classroom and found it really encourages students to think for themselves and gives them an opportunity to share their thinking with others. Anything from, "I wonder why bats hibernate?" to "How do you solve this?" becomes a learning experience. Try it - you'd be amazed when you hear what your students are actually thinking!
I have also fond that by modeling MY thinking, my students easily pick up word and phrases to help them explain what they are thinking. This leads me to the next question:
Aside from, "What do YOU think?", I also use a lot of "Why?" "Tell me more about that" and "What makes you think that? I've found that these are great ways to help students realize that their ideas come from somewhere - they don't just appear in their heads! Sometimes it's hard for students to explain their thinking. I love all the phrases and thinking stems Debbie shared in this chapter to help students clarify and expand on their thinking. As Debbie says, we shouldn't let students off the hook by moving on to someone else when they don't know or aren't sure about an answer. These are the perfect times to share strategies for students to use to figure things out!
Although this chapter let me see that I am doing many things right in the area of getting kids to think, it has also shown me that there are so many MORE things I can do to really make that thinking public and authentic. And that, after all, is what it's all about!
Be sure to visit Greg over at Kindergarten Smorgasboard (thanks for starting this book study!) and read what he is thinking! Greg talked about having a "Thinking Wall" to record his students' thoughts.... that made me think of using sticky notes for an ever changing display of student thinking... maybe a "Thought of the Week?"