## The Importance of Why?

Today was such a learning opportunity for me.  I had the chance to teach 6th grade Language Arts.  We were learning about how Ancient Greece has influenced modern times.  The students read through the story with my help and I found myself asking quite a few questions of the class.  One of the things I found myself constantly asking them was why?  Why?  Why?

The question why? is tied to common core instruction because it asks kids to justify their answer.  They have to defend and support their response using text or reasoning from inferences made by the author.  The question “why?” bumps learning to another level.  At one point, we were studying Socrates, and were reading about his important contributions to the teaching practice.  We went over the Socratic Method and the students discovered that I was teaching using this model.  They were frustrated beyond belief because they kept wanting me to give them clues, all I said was,” look back in your text and tell me what sentence explains or proves the answer.  I’m perfectly comfortable with wait time….”  I called on students that weren’t raising their hands, I called on students that were, I held all students accountable by asking them to share the answers with their partners and prove it.  It was exhausting, but I couldn’t help thinking that Socrates was truly an unbelievable teacher because those students went home tired today.

My proof, you might ask?  I asked one of the students as he left how he felt, and he said exhausted.  Of course, I asked “why?” He looked at me with this wonderful teenage expression you can all visualize, that said “really”, and then said “I had to think quite a bit today.”

Thanks Socrates!

Published in: Questioning Strategies on January 21, 2014 at8:26 pm Comments (0)

## Math and Perserverance

Perseverance: : continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition : the action or condition or an instance of persevering : steadfastness (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

Standards for Mathematical Practice Practice 1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.

Sometimes you are just in the right place at the right time. Recently I happened upon a 5th grade teacher whose class was at Specials. She stopped me and asked if I could join her class after math. She was introducing long division using manipulatives. She had started the lesson before specials. The students had struggled through the first problem. The students were to use ones, tens, and hundred blocks to solve the division problem. The students were struggling, many had not been asked to use manipulatives in math in years and the teacher new she needed to make adjustments. While the students were at Specials she did two things. First she quickly made and copied a work mat for the students to use.

The teacher did one more thing that I think really helped students….She went and found Sticky Notes. The students were confused as to what to do with the manipulatives as they divided. The sticky notes would represent the deviser.

The teacher displayed the problem for the students. 69 ÷3. First they had to make 69 using ones and tens blocks on their work mats. Then she discussed the deviser and asked the students how many sticky notes they will need to represent the deviser. She then walked the students through how to set up the problem with their manipulatives.

Step 1
Students show the number 69 with their ones and tens blocks

Step 2
Students now divide their tens blocks into three equal groups

Step 3
Students have now divided 69 into three equal groups using ones and tens blocks

The teacher then had the students work another problem this time they had to use the hundreds blocks as well.

An interesting thought I had about this lesson, not only did the students have to persevere, but the teacher did as well. When she began the lesson before specials, the students resisted, they wanted to do long division the way they were comfortable doing, paper and pencil. The teacher could have easily given up the manipulative lesson and switched to solving the problems the way students are most comfortable with. Instead, the teacher did not give up, she persevered and thought of how she can better help the students use the manipulatives to solve the problem. Because she persevered, so did her students!

Published in: Math, Math Practices on October 2, 2013 at12:36 pm Comments (1)

I LOVE when teachers let me come into their rooms and model lessons.  I recently visited more 2nd grade classrooms and four 3rd grade classrooms to model CLOSE Reading.  Every time I teach CLOSE reading, I learn more myself!  A big ah ha has been that CLOSE reading is really the way, in my opinion, to tie most of the Common Core ELA shifts together.  CLOSE reading has helped classroom teachers understand some of the shifts better.  They see the importance of text complexity, especially when we are asking students to do purposeful reading.  They are seeing what is looks like to see students grapple with text.  Teachers are starting to understand that text based responses are higher level questions.

The picture on the right shows a simple poster I use when I first introduce CLOSE reading to a class.

As I continue developing my own CLOSE reading lessons I am pondering what CLOSE reading will look like in a kindergarten and first grade classroom.  If you have done CLOSE reading in a kindergarten or first grade classroom, I would love to hear your ideas!

Published in: CLOSE Reading, Text Complexity on March 4, 2013 at2:35 pm Comments (0)