Post #6 in the Last 20 Days of Literacy Series… Written in quite a rush after the teaching day and right before heading to the Shark Tank in San Jose to see my beloved San Jose Sharks take on the St. Louis Blues in game two of the Western Conference NHL Final. GO, SHARKS!
All posts in this blog series can be found here.
This will be a quick one…
After our class novel read aloud for the day, I introduced my students to a new project we’re embarking on as a reading community. I told them that each of them will create slides to accompany a book talk that they will give on the day before our last day of school. Their task was to think about and choose the book that meant the most to them this school year for this project, and create the book talk and accompanying slides around it.
Cheers erupted! The fifth graders were so excited to jump into this new project! We’ve both written books talks and created Google slides before. So, I decided just to let them have at it. I figured they could just start without having to listen to me talk much further. So, after not saying much more than that, I invited them to get to work.
A few students jumped up and proceeded to walk to different areas in the room to grab their reading notebooks, Chromebooks, and pencils. Others walked over the the Books We’ve Read Together bin to look through our class read alouds to jog their memories about the different books we’ve read as a group this year.
However, over half of my class remained in the meeting area. One student asked a question. I answered it. Then he got to work. Another student did the same.
Eventually, I had a line of students in front of me who needed clarification about our work for the period. At first I was admittedly a tad frustrated- why weren’t they just getting to work? We’ve done this before. They know how to do this! What’s the issue…
I then realized it. It was like a big lightbulb went off while ten students were staring at me waiting for their turn. I was the issue.
Clearly, I did not model, show an example, or even sufficiently explain how to get started in this work. I made the assumption that they could just get started without much direction of any kind, and I assumed wrong.
Sure, many of my kids were off and running with their pencils flying across the page or their chosen books already in their hands being reread. However, most were not. I did not give most of them what they needed to get started. So, instead of letting it go and answering their questions individually, I stated out loud, “Please quickly give me an indication if you feel I need to better support you in getting started.”
Heads started nodding, a few hands went in the air, some gave thumbs up, and a sense of relief washed over many faces.
So, we started over. Those who wanted to keep working kept working. Most met me back down in the meeting area and I got a do over.
When I was in my teaching credential program at San Diego State University back in 2001, a wise professor told our cohort of eager student teachers this about classroom management… “When there’s an issue, first look in the mirror before you look in the microscope.” I keep this advice with me even 18 years later.
After looking in the mirror, realizing I was the issue in class today, and then forgiving myself and reteaching the lesson, my students started writing and creating some incredible book talks and slides.