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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Workshop model in my 6th grade classroom (video)

I'm currently reading So What Do They Really Know by Cris Tovani. It is a signed copy, I might add. :) As a member of a district cohort that is spending next year piloting this model in my classroom and working closely with Cris Tovani and Sam Bennett, I jumped into Workshop model this Spring. I liked it. A lot. It is a subtle shift and a powerful one. Can't wait to blog about my experiences, struggles, and successes throughout next year and dialogue/share/learn with brilliant educators like YOU, who are reading this now. :) 

The lesson you see in the video below was on the 5 Kingdoms of living organisms. (I started with 5 kingdoms instead of 6 kingdoms for introduction purposes.)
  • I found an article that was written in an easy to understand format WITH pictures and 'hooks.'  5 Kingdoms text
    • The kids had positive feedback to give me after the lesson.
    • Several asked if we could do more of this...this reading, writing, thinking. LOL 
    • Several reported they had no idea there were even 5 Kingdoms and almost none of them knew what algae was. They liked the word, 'fungi!' They were TALKING about what they read the next day without being asked.

Here's what happened in class prior to this video footage/activity. 

photo creditTaylor Dawn Fortune via photopin cc
  • I did a mini-lesson in which I modeled how to annotate, or interact with the text.
  • The kids were encouraged to write questions, comments, ahas, and notes and also to circle and underline parts they thought were important. I gave no specific guidelines for the number of annotations or other specifications. INTERACT was key. No right or wrong way to do it. 
  • I encouraged them to TALK BACK to the text and WRITE all over the page in the margins, rather than simply PULL information FROM IT for notes as we typically did in class. WORK IT!
  • I modeled aloud and on paper annotating on the first two pages (under the doc cam); they watched and worked along with me. After they saw how I  annotated/talked back to the text, they dug in and got down to the business of interacting and learning. They were engaged in a highly personal affair. 

  • I told the kids that talking/discussing ideas with others had no place during this portion of the lesson. I explained why. I wanted their focus to be on developing and recording their own thoughts, questions, musings about the text. If they were talking to others, then they weren't talking JUST TO THE TEXT! Be polite and give the text your full attention, just like you would a friend. :) Discussion is coming, I told them. Discussion is super-important as well and you will have the chance to talk and listen with others.



I walked around and conferred, or talked with them after I recorded with my iPhone. I looked at their annotations and then talked with them to find out what they 'got' or didn't 'get.' There were a couple times I jumped in for Catch and Release. This helped me plan for the next day.

The kids honestly enjoyed this lesson. They had TIME to read, write, think, question, and wonder on their own terms and they could write WHAT THEY THOUGHT on the paper. They were curious and actually quite surprised at some of the things they read. It impacted them because they were able to make it their own. It belonged to them. It was personal. I followed this up the next day with guided annotated notes that included specific questions to help them pull out key comparisons between kingdoms followed by debriefing/discussion between the kids and in class.

Who was doing the work and the learning?

This took the kids longer than I thought it would. Reading, marking up a text that contains complex or new ideas, and then making sense of it for yourself cannot be done in one hour. It was well worth the days we spent on it.

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