Sunday, August 7, 2016

Teaching Procedures and Classroom Climate...a Good Investment

      I started planning for the first week of school yesterday.   I've been out to school several times to get my classroom ready, but now it's not general stuff....it's actual lesson plans.
My favorite wall at school...my Cap wall!
Trying to teach growth mindset, and the power of mistakes!
   
I'm always amazed when I plan the first week (ok, honestly the first 2 or 3 weeks) how little content I can plan for.  I always have high hopes, but reality has taught me that the first week or two will be mostly procedures and classroom climate.  And it is always an investment that I'm glad I made.

     So as I planned the two or three short math activities that I hope to get done, what I mostly was thinking about was what procedures and classroom habits I want to use them to teach.  I have a couple of new things I want to implement this year to strengthen classroom discussions.  One is a set of classroom presentation norms, and another is a set of question stems.

     The presentation norms is something that has been in the back of my mind for a while now.  Clear cut expectations for what it should look and sound like when kids are talking in my room.  I started the simplest of these last year....pause after every sentence to give your audience a chance to process.  So this summer, I really started thinking about what would a good presentation look like.  This is what I've come up with that I plan to start teaching the first week.

1.  Speak loud enough for everyone to hear.     I know this seems really obvious, but often norms start with the obvious.

2.  Show visuals.           I think this will help everyone.  I think it will help the speaker stay focused and not lose their train of thought.  I also think it will help the audience a ton.

3.  Pause after each step and make eye contact.       This one I started last year, and even this one thing made a huge difference.  So many students are in such a hurry to be done talking, they rush through a really great explanation so fast that even I get lost.  I realized that if I was going to let kids rush through a presentation without giving other students a chance to think about what they're saying, why was I even bothering with student presentations.  So this one is huge for me.

4.  Ask for questions from the class.           I think this one is a natural follow up to the last one....because if the class really has time to consider the steps, then I think the questions will follow.  And I'm hoping they will be really good questions.

 Math Presentation Norms
Math Presentation Norm Posters

And this leads me to the next thing I'm excited to try out this year.  Question cards.  I am going to keep sets of these in the envelope of supplies at my tables.  I think if the kids have access to these while other kids are presenting, some really good questions and discussions will follow.  I have the questions divided down into different kinds: questions to clarify, questions of wonder, statements to agree, or statement to disagree.  I like that students will really have to think about where they are at with the student presentation (Do I agree?  Do I need clarification?) by using these cards.
Math Questioning Norm Posters


Here's to the math that we will accomplish the first week of school....and so much more!

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