Sunday, May 15, 2011

They said what????

      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!


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