What we did: As literacy teachers, the shift to Common Core State Standards puts more emphasis on using increasingly complex text and academic/content vocabulary. At Roberts, although we platoon content, we are planning our non-fiction unit around a social study of Colorado History. This allows for meaningful collaboration with our teammates and deeper understanding for students. For two months, students read difficult text about the Puebloans, Native Americans, Explorers, Miners, Cowboys, Farmers, and current people in Colorado. They annotated text as they made sense of primary and secondary sources. As a mini-closure to synthesize each learning, students did the Step Inside routine. This provided the way to take all the facts, find the perspective of a person in history, empathize with their story, decide upon the most important story to tell, and describe a snapshot in their life using sensory details and figurative language.
Connect: This routine reminds me of the RAFT (role, audience, format, topic) exercise for students. I have always loved the synthesis and empathy of that activity. I like to stop at intervals during a study to make meaning, and have found Step Inside to be a great formative assessment.
Extend: My ideas have definitely broadened since I first began this routine with my students. At our professional learning community last week, I was given the opportunity to share the work of Step Inside with my colleagues. One of the teachers at the table, Annie, shared the way she used it with first graders. Her students created masks to help them understand the perspective of characters in a story. I believe that drama and art are a natural way to connect with all types of learners and make perspective meaningful!
Challenge: I am planning to take this to the next level with the Circle of Viewpoints from Making Thinking Visible. What better way to take all the perspectives to the table and share multiple viewpoints?!