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- Sketch Notes in the Elementary Classroom - February 15, 2017
- Teach From the Heart - February 9, 2017
- Who is the Teacher: School or Family? - January 11, 2017
- Dear President Elect Trump, From Your Teachers - November 17, 2016
- Let them Be Children - October 21, 2016
- Print Resources: Great Tools for Kids - October 17, 2016
In my past 20 years as an educator teaching has changed. I love seeing the active involvement of students in their learning. Gone are the days of lecture, record, regurgitate. Students jump into learning and show what they know in a variety of ways. With that, there are a variety of ways to review what has been learned as well.
Next week my fourth grade class has an end of unit test. Yes, it is old-fashioned, but it shows me mastery of content. Summative assessment has a place among formative assessment in learning. We spent time today reviewing the learning from this unit with a cafe walk.
To start the walk, students were divided into small groups of 3-4. I had placed papers on different tables and desk groups around the room to represent a cafe. Each piece of large chart paper had a prompt or question along with an iPad. Students were to talk, discuss, reflect and share. This allowed students to review the content of our government unit, as well as look up vocabulary or artifacts they still needed support with. The prompt about important documents had a copy of the US Constitution, a copy of the Declaration of Independence, information about the Star Spangled Banner and a copy of the Wyandotte Constitution for students to use in their discussions. It would have been perfect to have some mugs of hot chocolate to go along with each small table discussion, but the conversation was rich just the same.
After the groups were established they spent 4 minutes at each conversational area. After that time the groups rotated to a new seating area together. When they arrived at the new area they then had to read the thoughts recorded from the previous group and add more to that conversation. This allowed them to share ideas with students outside of their group as well. Not only did we review content, they were engaged in listening and speaking skills.
This discussion process took about 30 minutes. The students were engaged in the conversation and discussed what others had missed. It was interesting to walk around and eavesdrop on their conversations to hear their learning. With a few expectations to remind them how group work looks and sounds, each group was successful in reviewing information and sharing their ideas on government.
Being an elementary classroom we are tied to a schedule outside of our control. Music time came (and I am thankful daily to have music still available for my students) and so our cafe closed. I gave a quick glance at the charts while they were out of the room (I had also been doing this as they were working) and was pleased they had covered all I had expected. When they came back into the room they were given study guides to fill out for the test. Many students wandered to the charts to complete their guides. They took the thoughts of their peers and restated them in their words for study purposes. This skill of synthesizing a conversation is the goal of learning.
Teachers are no longer the holders of knowledge. Students can gain knowledge from a multitude of resources today. They can also learn from each other. Using our cafe walk we were able to practice listening, speaking and content skills as a review to a summative assessment. Students were able to synthesize their learning and share ideas about this huge idea of government. Active learning involves the learning and allows them to take ownership of their learning. My cafe walk is just one example of this idea implemented in the classroom. What do you do for active learning?
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