I can never quite pinpoint exactly how things evolve in the classroom--how kids get from where they are at the beginning of the year to where they are at the end of the year. I don't really have a set of lesson plans that helps to build talk early in the year. I don't really believe in those "First 20 Day" planning guides. But I am very intentional about my planning and try to be responsive to each new group of students. Each group comes in with different expectations as learners and I usually take my cue from them on where to do. By May, I am always so amazed by my students' thinking and growth but they are not as comfortable talking and sharing early in the year so I spend a lot of time planning things that give them important messages and experiences about learning.
The thing is, lots of these things don't happen in Reading Workshop. In Read Aloud and in minilessons, we are learning to have conversations around books. But it seems to be that it is the conversations that we are having during other times in the day that also help build the conversations we have as readers. In a self-contained classroom, nothing stands alone. Somehow, conversations in reading are possible because we spend time throughout each day thinking about learning and thinking and talking. The conversations overlap and talk starts to get better each day in the classroom in all areas.
We Learn When We Think Together
|Mrs. Phifer, our reading teacher, sharing things about her life as a reader last week in our classroom.|
We Learn When We Are in the Role of Teacher AND When We Are in the Role of Learner
We talk about being an active participant in a session and this is easy for them to do and understand when they are in both roles. We don't do a typical presentation--instead kids teach at a table to an audience of 3-5 kids several times until all kids rotate through. This keeps kids engaged and gives kids lots of experiences as both a teacher and and audience. We reflect on our roles each day and we also discover what we appreciated about the ways different people taught and learned. This conversation will carry on throughout the year.
We've learned from Ruth Ayres (A Peek Inside My Writer's Notebook), Jess Keating (Write With Jess Keating), Amy Vanderwater (Sharing Our Notebooks) and Mr. Stadel at Estimation 180. The variety of videos, blog posts, activities created for learning all show that there are so many ways to learn from others.
None of these things can stand alone but together they work magic when it comes to evolving messages about what it means to be a learning community.