Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Agony Aunt Session

We have just had a very productive discussion in our inquiry group about things that we need help with.

Zac started us off thinking about how to encourage discussion in the classroom and how to step back as a teacher. I remember hearing that we as teachers talk about 90% of the time in the classroom. This is shocking when you think about it. We are working towards dialogic classrooms where students lead discussions, however we very rarely give them the time to do this. Rob and I shared some scaffolds that we have used in our classes to guide discussion and keep it focussed.

Rob brought up the age old question of maintaining order (quiet) in the classroom when addressing the whole class. He told us that this is particularly difficult after assembly on a Friday when routines are different. We talked about how, in junior classes, we bring the students down to the mat to give whole class instructions. Many of us put tape on the floor to condense the mat area, for the same reason that Rob might want to bring his kids from their desks down to the floor - it keeps them tight and more focussed.

I have been wondering how to extend students' vocabulary and use it in multiple contexts. I have been addressing vocabulary that comes up in reading books during guided reading time, however as we often read a new book every day, there is very little recycling of vocabulary. This means that we are getting quantity but not quality, or assurance that the new vocabulary is really sticking. Khismira and Zac suggested using shared books for the your main vocabulary extension. This can flow into writing and can give multiple contexts for the same vocabulary. This is a great idea and one that I will start investigating.

Jocelyn was wondering how to develop independence in writing. We talked about different strategies for developing this independence - Khismira talked a lot about how she combines ideas about guided writing from Gwenneth Phillips and the gifting of vocabulary from Jannie van Hees.

It was a very positive, productive discussion that lead to some tangible things for all of us to go away and try.