Sunday, May 5, 2013
What I did: At the beginning of each year, we activate students background knowledge about literacy. The purpose of this is to share experiences and beliefs. This year, we used the Chalk Talk, a silent visual conversation, to share those beliefs.
Connect: Last year, I used the Chalk Talk and loved the way that all student voices were expressed and "heard". As we dove into literacy as a class, I was reluctant to do the usual charts as a whole class, "Why do we read? Why do we write? Why is literacy important?", so I was excited to use this thinking routine instead. I know that our students come with a love of learning: it was lovely to glimpse all their thoughts!
Extend: As a result of doing this Routine, my thinking has broadened because I learned about the authentic student beliefs of all students in my classroom instead of a few that raise their hands. This informs my teaching everyday. Some students wrote that they read and write in school, at home, and in their spare time, that they read and write to learn more, or investigate weird things because they feel weird. I learned about the kids who want to be authors when they grow up. All of this information helps me craft my language and teaching throughout the year.
Challenge: There are two areas that I want to develop as I continue to use this routine. The first, is making sure that the topics of Chalk Talk are interesting enough that the students can really engage in the activity and share beliefs over time in a routine. The book, The Inside Guide to the Reading-Writing Classroom, Grades 3-6: Strategies for Extraordinary Teaching, by Leslie Blauman, will help me to do that. Secondly, I want to teach students how to go deeper and expand upon peer thinking. I notice in all conversations in class, whether in triads about content, or turn and talk, or book clubs, that the students need to learn how to BUILD upon other's ideas. I think Chalk Talk will be an excellent way to do that!