So, I’ve been thinking about the great conversation I had with my class yesterday. It was the kind of conversation we don’t usually have until a lot later in the year. I’ve been thinking about why it went so well.
First let me tell you what my definition of “going well” is. In 5th grade I think a good conversation about a book means a number of thing:
- Many people (everyone) participate.
- Solid information from the story is shared.
- People are not just summarizing, but collecting appropriate examples for the topic.
- There is back and forth among students.
- New ideas emerge.
That may sound like a lot for 5th graders, who incase you don’t recall, are mostly 10. But,I have found that is exactly what they are capable of: a lot.
So, here are some of the reasons I think this, our first real discussion about our first book of the year, went so well:
- We were sitting in our circle arrangement (see my post about it here and here) and I was just part of the circle. Everyone was facing each other and conversation was naturally flowing.
- I adjusted the plan of what to talk about when a student brought up an idea that clearly got many students’ attention. I told the students we could discuss this idea further once we finished a few housekeeping review items and that my goal was to learn and improve our ability to discuss what we read. I said that often it would not matter what in particular we discussed, so I was open to new topics.
- I tried to keep things somewhat free-flowing and insist on some being-called-on-taking-turns.
- At a few different times I said I needed to hear from anyone I hadn’t heard from soon. Students responded appropriately and raised hands ready to join in.
- And, finally we had already had our “5E Day” (Identity Day-read about it here) project and started on the path to a really great class tone.
I am going to have to up my game if my students are going to be leaping into this kind of discussion in September.