I know it has been a while- I hope this coming school year, I will get back on board.
This summer I’ve been thinking about what changes I plan to do/make to really improve the coming year.
Years ago during my masters work I read “Talking Their Way Into Science: Hearing Children’s Questions and Theories, Responding with Curricula” by Karen Gallas. The school I started working in back in November has 30 minutes a day scheduled for science. I found this past year, the materials provided for science didn’t sufficiently fill that time. That we did isolated activities and I supplemented with books and discussion- but it didn’t shine or sparkle. (Despite what my principal said when he observed part of a lesson)
So, this coming year, whether I am in first or second grade, it is my hope to attempt to implement the student talk in Gallas’s book. This may be an interesting undertaking. The goal is that the students do the talking and lead the discussions- take ownership, and the teacher observes and maybe helps maintain procedures- but does not interject or correct students science ideas or misconceptions. That is my goal. While I will have to modify it a bit- because I have to cover the set topics based off the curriculum in North Carolina- I want to put as much power as I can in the hands of the students. I find that when I step back is when the students step up- and that is what this will be an experiment in. Additionally, it will be a great way to tie in the language- speaking and listening standards. Or, at least that is what I will put in my lesson plans.
For example: First Grade, Speaking & Listening Standards
SL.1.1– Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 1 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
SL.1.1A – Follow agreed-upon rules for discussion
SL.1.1B – Build on others’ tak in conversations by responding to the comments of others through mutipple exchanges.
SL.1.1C – Ask questions to clear up any confusion about the topics and texts under discussion.
I find these are the standards that we sometimes do- but rarely focus on, and rarely actually grade. By handing the conversation over to the students and by myself simply recording their conversations and taking notes- I may be able to actually create mini-lessons on how to help them improve their abilities to have conversations. A skill that is extremely beneficial in many careers and life. As, I’m sure you know there are many adults who can barely hold a conversation, and many more who struggle to work effectively in groups and discuss projects.