Saturday, September 10, 2011

Guidelines for Discussions in My Classroom

I survived my first week. I'm exhausted and I think most of my students were too, but we had a great week! Even with 14 years of teaching experience, I still have to remind myself (every 5 minutes) that the more time I spend establishing routines/procedures with my students the easier my whole year will be.

There are so many things to talk about during the first week. The usuals...there is how to walk in the hall, how to do whole body listening, how to eat snack, how to clean up, how to put your papers in your folder, how to pack up at dismissal and how to use everything from the soap pump to the pencil sharpener. I even have a bathroom meeting to talk about rules in the bathroom. I'll spare you the details. My past students have laughed about Mrs. Gillow's "rules" because it seems like I have a few for everything.

One of the most important things we talked about in my room this week is our procedure for classroom discussions. When my students share their thinking and their work, I like to make sure we are all following the same rules. That helps me create a safe place for the children to share and discuss.

Here is my anchor chart. I keep it very simple. During the first part of a discussion in my room, students are asked to share and/or listen. In the next step, the students are asked to agree or disagree with the student who shared their thinking or their work. If a student disagrees, they need to be willing to explain why in a polite way. The student who shared their thinking first can either "revise" their thinking (change their mind) or explain why they would like to stick to their original answer. I model the language for my children during the first few discussions. After a few practice sessions, my first graders quickly start saying things like, "I would like to revise my thinking" or "I disagree, because I solved the problem by using the hundreds chart".

I really should probably go to sleep. Off to bed.


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