Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Developing a Dialogic Year 7/8 Classroom

After hearing from Jannie last week, I have been reminded to embed techniques to create a "Dialogic Classroom."  I worked very hard to do this last year with my NE/Yr 1 class of five year olds, and even though we experienced some growing pains in the beginning, they were very successful after just a few short weeks.  Today, I was geared up to see how my Year 7/8 students fared!

We are currently studying the World War 1, the ANZAC troops, and the technologies used during the war.  Today, my Maths/Inquiry students spent the last hour of the day digging a little deeper into this Inquiry topic together.  We began by watching a short video clip, that discussed various aspects of WW1 and trench warfare.  At various times during the clip, I paused the movie and posed a few 'thoughts' for the students to consider.

For example, at one point the narrator made a comment about the war not only being "the first industrial war but also the first scientific war."  I paused the clip, and told the students I was going to make a statement that I wanted them to think about.  "I wonder what makes some industrial..." Students were asked to take a minute to think on their own about my statement, and then they were asked to discuss their thoughts on industrial with their neighbour.  After a brief time, students were able to share what they discussed.

The thing I found most interesting was that when another student was randomly asked to repeat what was said, they were unable to do so.  This is something that I will be looking to develop further with my learners as the year progresses.

After we also did a think/pair/share with a similar thought to consider regarding what was meant by a scientific war, we continued with the video clip.  I made sure that I was looking for moments that I could intentionally "feed in order to lift the language readiness" of my learners.  I randomly stopped the clip when a opportunity presented itself to discuss the definition of a potentially unknown word with students.

After completing this process with two different 4-5 minute video clips, the students were led to their Blogs and asked to work with their partner to create a two paragraph recap entitled 'Technology @ War."  Most students will have to complete this task tomorrow, but from the work I was able to see as I circulated this afternoon, I believe that their posts will be stronger because of the dialogic experience that was provided prior to simply writing about the video.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

PD: Dr. Jannie van Hees "Developing a Dialogic, Orally Expressive Classroom"

This term, the year 5-8 teachers are participating in Professional Development with Dr. Jannie van Hees. Below are my notes from our first session.

Conversational Teaching and Learning
How do you explicitly grow student expression in the classroom?
-Repeat Back what was said
-Backing Up View Point/Answer
-Individual Conferencing
After this discussion, I am very interested in finding out more about and implementing “Talk Moves” into my daily Maths lessons.  

Students need to be pushed to use the “output” more in order recognise more complex language features.  They need to have “gifted” words provided multiple times a day in order to effectively receive a high level model of appropriate language features. The need to be continuously fed in order to lift their language readiness.

When students are acquiring language knowledge there are three major gains that happen for them.  
  1. Deeper Knowledge: Structure and Grammatical Language
  2. Fullness of Expression: How to deeply engage and talk with others using rich vocabulary
  3. Extended Language Growth and Vocabulary  

Students need to use their brains at a higher level of complexity than they are currently.  This will only properly happen if students are able to practice.  Providing students an opportunity to participate in a Think-Aloud that has multiple steps, which potentially puts them on the spot provides an extremely important life skill.  Students need to have orally shaping conversations that will allow them to “hold on” to information.

Our day-to-day priority of conversation enhances the learning of our students, in addition to the actual curriculum covered.  Students are required to participate in a more enriching manner. Students have to contribute, be focused, have meaningful things to provide, etc.

On a daily basis, students should be provided with a chance to have conversation.  Topics could be anything that the teacher suggests or that is student prompted.  This provides a chance for formative assessment, both on the topic and a students language ability.  This allows the teacher a meaningful opportunity to provide gifted words (including definitions) to help expand the vocabulary of their class.

Point to ponder: How many questions do you ask your students on a daily basis? Questions do not provide opportunities for students to expand their thinking and language. They provide a way for students to dig deeper into their own resources instead of expanding their thinking and engaging their understanding.