Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Just let them teach...

No, I don't mean teachers of the world (though if we were allowed to just teach, imagine the miracles that we could make happen). Who I am referring to in this post is the kiddos. Last week a few of my students were begging me to let them teach. I told them that maybe at the end of the year I would let them do just that (ya know, once the big fat state test was over and we could breathe easy... until the scores come back). But over the weekend I got to thinking. We are doing Author's Purpose this week for our reading skill. I have done a lot of fun activities for this already and wanted to do something a little different. So Sunday night, after spending all day creating this fancy shmancy blog, (and doing work for the week) the lightbulb went on. Yes folks, I had my own lightbulb moment. These kids WANT to teach each other... so LET them Gina! I sat down and ran through some ideas and came up with this....

Now at first, I wasn't thinking this was anything as marvelous as I wanted, but I knew it would serve the purpose. Boy was I wrong. It IS marvelous and my kids LOVED it. First, let me tell you how this went this week. Included in this pack is a characteristics sort. There are 9 different characteristics (ranging in difficulty) for students to sort based on what purpose that characteristic fits (for example: "the author tries to get the reader to think like they do" would go under persuade). We did that yesterday after reviewing PIE, the meanings, and examples. (Sorry I don't have pictures of these and I left them at school- nothing fancy just a cutting and pasting activity, but I suppose you COULD split a paper plate into thirds and sort them that way... too bad I didn't think of that before this minute!)

Then today was the big time fun! The "wow I wish I would have had my drop in observation right now" moment. (Of course I wasn't that lucky, but oh well.) There are 3 different stories pertaining to Thanksgiving in the pack. Each story also has 4-5 comprehension questions where students need to reference the story for their answers. (Common core right?) I decided to differentiate this activity (but you don't have to) and have my students grouped by ability. I gave my "superstars" group the "Thanksgiving" piece, my "got it" group the "Dream" piece and my "developing" group the "Letter" piece. (No I don't call my groups this in the class, in fact most times they don't know that they are grouped by level, I just group them under the activity.) I worked with my developing group while the other groups were self led. The students had to read their story (and boy was I proud that they actually took turns) and answer the questions on the back. I told them to make sure they really worked hard to get their answers correct because they were going to be the teachers for this lesson and this would be their "answer key". Wow- I think I found gold with this one!

So back to the lesson, I worked with my group by having them each read a few sentences. Then we discussed what the story was about, what happened in it, etc. Then we went onto the back and answered questions. I was so proud of them! Citing their answers and everything! (I wrote their answers for them because most of them just write too sloppy for a peer to be able to read it, but I wrote exactly what they told me to write.) After my group finished answering their questions, we assigned reading parts and I left them to practice reading their story out loud for their big teaching moment. I took this time to walk around to my other groups to see them really working well together and working hard to get their answers done. I told them to assign reading parts when they finished and then we had to go to lunch...

As soon as lunch was over they couldn't wait to get in the class to finish up and prepare for their BIG TEACHING MOMENT. And they got right to work as soon as we walked in that door. I gave them about ten minutes to finish preparing and practicing and then we got to teaching. Each group came up and read their story to the class and then asked their peers to answer the questions. They called on the volunteers to answer their questions, gave them hints if they were wrong, and were just so excited. I was so proud of their enthusiasm!

After that they worked with partners to complete the closing activity (another  activity included in this pack). They had to sort the sentences based on their purpose. This was that lesson where you are just WILLING your principal or assistant principal to drop in for that formal unannounced observation because it is going so well... and they don't. But we had a lot of fun!

I have decided to definitely incorporate this more throughout the year and then later in the year allow them to come up with their own questions and such to ask. But for now, I will provide them with the questions until they are ready for that.

If you want to grab a copy of this for yourself you can click the picture of the unit up top or this link!

PS my giveaway ends tonight! Get entered and thank you to everyone who has entered, is a new follower, or is a new follower to my TpT store! I am hoping to hit 100 followers soon and do another giveaway then!

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