Saturday, April 21, 2012

Giving Students Opportunities to Share their Thinking and Strategies

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post on  Involving Students in Creating Bulletin Boards . I want to update you on some new ways my students are sharing their thinking with their classmates and how they are learning from one another.  About a month ago, we started our social issues book club unit and the students wanted to create their own book club bulletin board.  Each book club boxed off a square on the bulletin board using yarn and are posting their thinking, parts of their conversations, and strategies they are using while participating in their book club. 
Our Book Club Bulletin Board
In my morning message to students, I invite them to read their classmates thinking on the book club bulletin board and be ready to honor a book club's thinking/strategy at morning meeting. I also give students time each week to reflect on what they are currently doing well in their book club and which strategy they saw on the bulletin board that they will try out.  These opportunities teach students how to be reflective but also teach them that they can all learn from one another.  In my eyes, we have 26 teachers in the classroom, not one or two. 

Some of my students also expressed interest a couple weeks ago about creating their own foam board bulletin boards to showcase and share the great strategies they are using in their reader’s notebooks.  Of course, I jumped on this interest and went to Michaels to purchase many foam boards and ‘fancy’ colorful paper with designs too.  I gave the students the supplies and handed the ownership over to them.  They created a plan for their layout and how they wanted to use the board.  Then they went into their reader’s notebooks to reflect on which strategies and entries/charts they wanted to share.  I was completely impressed and proud of their collaboration using the boards and the finished products are amazing. One group created "mock reader's notebooks" on their foam board with copies of charts/entries inside them! (photo below)
Foam board students created to share ways they are using their Reader's Notebooks
Once this group of students shared their foam board with the class, the excitement and interest spread so I found myself making another trip to Michaels for more supplies, but was thrilled to do it!  I love to see students have that spark in their eyes when they light up doing something they love and are proud of their accomplishments and hard work.  It is so important to provide students with opportunities to share their thinking and hard work with others.  This sharing helps give a sense of purpose for why they are doing it.  When students have a sense of purpose, their motivation increases, and a higher level of learning occurs. 

I’d love to hear about ways students in your class or school share their thinking and work with others. 

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