Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Posting Series: Reflections on That Workshop Book #2

In my first post about Samantha Bennett's That Workshop Book, I thought through how kids thinking was helping me plan for what next with workshop. After listening and recording how my students were responding to read aloud, I determined they were ready to start practicing questioning.

My plan:
Reminded of Bennett's wise words: "Learning is not about one great lesson or one great activity teachers design for students to do. It is about the little things teachers ask students to do every day like, read, write, and talk that add up to the big things like meaning from text and adding meaning and purpose to life," I began to use the routine, ritual and structure of workshop to plan a study where I could model questioning and then scaffold the work over time where students were practicing independently.

In the first days of the study, we discussed the importance of getting to know a new book. I asked them strategies they already use to preview. Then modeled some of their ideas like how to use the pictures and words on the cover, how to read the back or the flap and how to read the first page. I used the picture book Baby Brains Superstar by Simon James. This book is the third in a series of picture books about a baby born brilliant at birth. My students were already sold to the series having read the first two books, Baby Brains and Baby Brains and Robomom.

What Happened:
After previewing, I repeated previewing asking my students to think about any questions they had as I read aloud. When some students had ideas, I charted the questions. I wrote them on an anchor chart and left them up as I proceeded to read the entire story. Afterwards, they were anticipating finding answers. So, students thought about the answers. Many times they would infer using the text, pictures or background knowledge. I wrote their thoughts next to their questions and this work felt successful for the first day of questioning. I felt like the few kids who had questions, had showed others how to generate a thought about something they wondered about. They were off to read independently and invited to begin thinking about questions that happen in their own texts (knowing that not all of them were going to be successful questioners on their own). We ended workshop with a student who shared questioning in her own reading.

On this day, the structure of the mini lesson was longer than usual but the conversation we had was essential for all to hear. It was truly led by the students and guided by me. I allowed myself to be flexible with the structure of workshop: it isn't always a clean 15-45-15 (mini-independent-share). I also knew the time in mini lesson was kids doing thinking work.
What next?
What next though? How would I build on questioning? How would I use questioning to help them understand the entire story? How would I make sure to hear from more than the kids who always participate?

In my next post in this series, I will share ways I tried to answer my own questions.


Cathy said...

We have just started talking about questioning as well. I will look forward to your future posts about questioning....and I'll have to check out this new series. Thanks for keeping me up-to-date on book possibilities.

Mary Lee said...

I love learning from your thinking alouds here on the blog!

Julie said...

Flexibility is so important. How often does that happen when we let kids take the lead...they often take us places we never imagined and it's OK if it takes a little longer than we planned. Kids can learn so much from each other. Thanks for the suggestion of a new series. I'm going to check these books out right now! Julie