Today was not entirely successful, but I did learn something.
I am doing a simple guided research task with the fourth graders to support their animal adaptations unit. Pairs of students receive two articles about animals, and a graphic organizer. Each team had to ultimately write a narrative explaining what might happen if the two animals encountered each other in the wild. Only one group started it before the break, and while it went okay, I felt like it was rushed. I had planned to repeat the same task with the other classes, but giving more time and guidance.
This morning I walked into a situation where I was on my own during AM supervision, then had to check in the post-vacation influx of books, and had to read to the BOCES class. As I was working on making copies for the fourth graders, I realized that there was no way they were going to be ready in time.
I had a moment of panic, but somehow my brain recognized an alternate opportunity. Since the first group felt so rushed, and since I wasn’t going to have time to make packets with different animals for each team, I realized that what I needed to do was start all the kids with the same two animals, and model using the organizer to break down the information. I asked the students to read each article and circle words they don’t know, and underline information about that animal’s adaptations.
They were absolutely silent, focused and absorbed in the task. When the faster readers finished, they quietly drew or colored until everyone was done. I have never seen 4th graders so quiet.
I later found out that paired readings are a big focus in the classroom. Somehow, tapping into that routine produced classroom-quality behavior. Now to figure out how to leverage this for the future…