I’m back at Starbucks in sunny St. Georg enjoying a soy latte and anticipating a great day with Learning Walks. These Learning Walks are going to focus on Tasking and Depth of Knowledge. This work has been built over time to this phase. I am so excited to work with this group of amazing teachers as they are comfortable being observed by their peers and learning from their peers as well.
Where did this work start?
1. Big 8 – Focus on foundational expectations. As all of you teachers and administrators know, if expectations are not in place the rest can not happen… The principal and I did a drop-in in every classroom – running like crazy women (my kids would say that’s normal behavior for me). I then did a PD after school, based on their data – celebrating the high data points and simply making teachers’ lives easier by giving them a few pointers.
2. We then focused on Tasking (whole group). I did demo lessons while teachers collected data on what I was doing and how the students were actively engaged. Life is indeed GREAT when I get to teach kids. I love you tall people – but… kids are super fun. I learned I was pretty, that I did not look as good in the shirt I was wearing, and that yes, kindergarten students do hope for their mothers to give birth to kittens… : )
3. We then moved into observing teachers student engagement – tracking open/assessment/engagement. Let me pause and explain those terms. Ponder what kinds of questions you rely on… Open – kinda like a fishing expedition. You throw the question out and some kid calls out or raises their hand or you say the question again or you answer it yourself or a child hollars out when is lunch, etc… You actually already know who is going to answer even before you ask the question. Assessment – calling on one student. To quote my good friend Ellen, “What are the other 24 students doing?” Engagement Requests – or The All Student Response System. Basically you get rid of the question mark. Instead of “Who is the main character?” (open) or “Gary, who is the main character?” (assessment), you phrase a request – a command. Whisper to your partner who the main character is. Write the main character’s name in the air. On the count of three, when I lower my hand, tell me the main character.
4. We then focused on student to student engagement and Depth of Knowledge. One of the instructional coaches at the school taught two lessons with the upper grade teachers as students. The first lesson was pure text book with me stopping the lesson constantly asking, “What is the missed opportunity.” The instructional coach then taught the same Learning Target – but perfectly! Student to student engagement – depth of knowledge – etc… It was fascinating to watch even adults be off task the first lesson and totally 100% engaged the second lesson.
So, here we are today – Learning Walks for Depth of Knowledge and Tasking. I have to go now as one of the coaches wants a hot chocolate, the other an orange mango smoothy…
I’ll check in tomorrow (from the same Starbucks) and let you know how the day went and also I want to tell you what to do with kids who can’t or won’t partner share or work in a small group.
Have a Great day!