Welcome to Chapter 4 of the Teaching with Intention book study, hosted by the fabulous Kindergarten Smorgasbord. This week's leaders are Schroeder's Shenanigans in 2nd and Positively Learning. This chapter is all about creating classroom cultures that teach, support, and promote THINKING. (Cause we all know some people who need help with that, right?)
Debbie Miller focuses on three key ideas for creating a thinking classroom:
- putting our thinking on display
- the intentional use of language: and
- making thinking visible, public, and permanent.
By this, she simply means thinking out loud, sharing our thinking processes with our students, and encouraging our students to do the same. Using phrases like, "Did you notice…," "So what you're thinking is…," "What leads you to believe that?" helps students articulate what their own thinking process is.
Miller says, "Teachers who put their thinking on display are teachers who are present. When we're present, we're tuned in to our thinking and responsive to what's going on in the classroom and the world; we're actively seeking truth and understanding. We make our thinking visible to show students what we want for them; we're showing them how being curious, thoughtful, and reflective enhances and enriches who we are as active teachers, learners, and citizens of the world." If that's not a good enough reason to think out loud, I don't know what is.
Miller goes on to say how as a new teacher, she was so busy managing the classroom and keeping the kids busy, that she didn't have the time to stop, reflect, and model her thinking with her students. She says, "I used to think it was a luxury to be curious, thoughtful, and reflective. Now I know being curious, thoughtful, and reflective is a necessity."
It is not enough to say good job, or even "What a thoughtful conversation we had today." When talking with our students we have to be specific about what it is that was good or thoughtful. When a child is trying to explain or respond to something, we can encourage his/her train of thought by saying things like, "Keep going," "What else?" or "Tell me more."
Think anchor charts showing the thought processes that go into developing a conclusion. In her book, she shows an example of an anchor chart constructed to show how their thinking of The Harmonica changed over time. This is a great way to pull the invisible thinking process out and make it visible and concrete.
As a kindergarten teacher, I make TONS of visuals for and with my students. Our thinking goes down on chart paper nearly every day. But what I need to work on is verbalizing the process that it took to get to those conclusions. I'm good at voicing the conclusion, but not so much on the process. Except math—math is all about the process. I also need to work on supporting them as they learn to verbalize the process. Five year olds have a hard time with metacognition, but if we make it a focus in our classroom, it can quickly become a skill they can use for a lifetime.
As I read, I visualized having a thought parking lot in my classroom—a place where students can write their thoughts down on a sticky note and post it to the parking lot. We can gather our thoughts and elaborate on them as a class later or refer to them as needed.
What did this chapter make you think of? What lightbulb moments did you have? Please share out in the comments!
Tune in next week for Chapter 5 and see what everyone else has to say over at Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd and Positively Learning.