After reading Chapters 5 and 6 in Choice Words, How Our Language Affects Children’s Learning, by Peter H. Johnston- I continue to reflect back on my teaching.
Having students be able to connect their background knowledge to what they are learning is such a powerful thing. Many students have a hard time connecting what they are learning to what they already know. This is something I have noticed in the classroom. Students have background knowledge of skills but cannot connect it to the classroom or vise versa. Johnston mentions this in chapter 5 and how we can help bridge this gap. There are multiple ways we can do it, but the best way that I have found is to question students. Using stems like “how else”, “what other ways”, “What else is this like” I use this language in small group math and reading to help my students relate to the stories and math skills we are working on. I have also done this is whole group science which has really helped my students connect to it. After reading I am now more aware of how my students do not always connect their skills from one content area to the next.
Being able to generalize and transfer information from not context to the next is major. I am even guilty of this in my own life where I do not transfer knowledge from one skill set to another.
Another way to help students take control is to allow them the opportunity to ask the group questions, to be the teachers and take their questions and ponder them as well. In Chapter 6 Johnston references the IRE or QRE which stand for initiate/question, response, evaluate. This has the teacher doing majority of the talking and students responding to an agenda. By giving students control and asking questions that require them to think deeper. Since they will be thinking deeper they will need response time but by giving them this opportunity they will be able to conduct and lead the conversations in the classroom. Many times in my classroom my students are reluctant to participate in whole group conversations because of the fear of being wrong. One way I have tried to help eliminate this fear is positive feedback and always asking how they know that and respect their answers since they are able to support them. I would love for my students to be able to lead the conversations in the classroom and i can participate with them or just observe. After reading this chapter I feel like I have more tools that will allow me to do this. By making sure my students have time to think, asking questions that will require them to explain and bounce ideas off of their peers. Once they are able to ask questions and have peers answer and not me I think we will be on the right track.
As I continue to reflect back on my own practice I still notice that many of the things that I do are only done during small group and I am neglecting my whole class the opportunity to take control. Since in my small groups I have students from other classrooms. This is something that I am working towards and becoming more conscience about doing during whole group and have made some progress.