I was working in the classroom of a new teacher yesterday. She has been working hard to keep her lessons short, meet with small groups, complete assessments, and run a classroom. Yesterday she was delivering a lesson from a nonfiction unit of study. She was well prepared. She gave the teaching point, demonstrated the strategy, gave the children time to practice, and then sent them off to read and research.
As we worked with students, I noticed that one student had written in his notebook, “I used to think….., but now I think…..” I knew this was exactly the strategy that was suggested as the teaching tip in the Share for the lesson. I ran over to the teacher to get her attention before she pulled the students back together at the end of the workshop to give this very strategy. I pointed out that one of her students had already done what she was going to do. “I wonder what would happen if we didn’t show the chart you have prepared with this strategy on it. What if, instead, you share the student’s work and invite others to try that same strategy. As much as possible, you want to let your teaching come from the kids!” She tried it, and the energy in the classroom was palpable. The children were eager to try a strategy their classmate had tried.
How can we find ways to take our very detailed and well crafted units of study and make the work come the kids? In my book, this is the key to high engagement, great instruction and high levels of student learning.