We all know that students say the funniest, most random, smartest, and confusing things sometimes. I am often amazed at what comes out of their mouths (and not always for good reasons). But, this week, I sat back in my chair in amazement as I listened and tried to frantically write down my students' words so I wouldn't forget the enlightening discussion that was going on.
Each day, we have a time of closure and sharing at the end of our Daily Five block. I sometimes step in and ask a clarifying question to get the student to more explicitly explain his/her thinking, but last Wednesday I literally did not say an entire word for five minutes while my students discussed and debated about Nico's inference. It was a proud moment. I was so proud of them for having the knowledge and thinking skills that they do now at the end of the year. I was proud that all of my work trying to set up a climate where my students feel comfortable to share what they know and respectfully discuss with their classmates. Here's part of the conversation:
Nico: I was reading Where the Wild Things Are, and I'm inferring the author's purpose was to teach.
Elizabeth: What's your evidence?
Nico: Well, he's teaching me what the forest is like.
Anius: But isn't that a fiction book? Usually the author's purpose isn't to teach in fiction books.
Boston: Anius, but remember that fables (they're the same as fiction) are fiction books but they try to teach us a lesson? Remember when we read The Tortoise and the Hare? That's fiction but it taught us a lesson.
Anius: Oh yeah. So Nico, do you still think the author's purpose is to teach or to entertain?
Nico: Maybe to entertain because there were lots of funny parts.
Never underestimate the power you have when you are silent and let your students do the talking!