Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Importance of Modeling for Others

Yesterday I was in my Pilates class and for some odd reason, my pilates instructor was only giving verbal directions for the positions rather than demonstrating the positions and modeling the movements.  I found that it was taking me longer to get into the proper positions and to do the correct movements because I kept looking around me to see what everyone else was doing to make sure I was doing the right move!  I realized how our students must feel when we give them verbal directions and explanations in our teaching rather than provide them with specific roleplaying and modeling.  Roleplaying and modeling for our students is so effective because it gives them the explicit visual they may need to grasp the concept and internalize it. 

Since I am a firm believer in modeling for my students as often as I can, I love doing "fishbowl" conversations with my class so they can see a successful conversation in action.  If you are new to this term, a "fishbowl" conversation is when a group goes into the center of a circle to model a successful conversation. The other students sit in the large circle around the group and are the observers; they take note of what the center group or partnership is doing to have a successful conversation.  After a few minutes of observing the conversation, students share what they noticed and we chart their noticings so they can use it as a reference when they are having their own conversations. 

Today was our first day for book club conversations in our Social Issue Unit so Melanie Meehan and I modeled how to have a successful conversation inside the "fishbowl".  I told the students to watch us carefully to see what we are doing and saying in order to have a successful conversation and to expect that we will ask, "What did you notice?" at the end of the "fishbowl" like we always ask after a demonstration/roleplay.  After our conversation, students shared aloud what they noticed and we charted their responses on chart paper so they could use it as a resource when they have their own book club conversations.  

Chart with students' responses of what they noticed about our conversation
After the minilesson, students went off to have their own book club conversations for the first time and they ran more smoothly than they probably would have without our explicit modeling.  We will have another "fishbowl" conversation tomorrow with a book club doing the modeling this time instead of us so the students can see one more example. 

Hopefully next week, my pilates instructor will be back to her usual teaching techniques of modeling instead of telling!

Happy Modeling! :)

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