Thursday, 16 June 2016

"Critical" Friends

As part of our ongoing school wide professional development our staff is looking at ways to provoke increased reading with our students.  We are blessed to have Dr. Rebecca Jesson share various discussion provoking ideas with our teaching staff and as a result we are taking part of a special teacher growth experience that we are calling "Critical" Friends.

We have been put into groups of three with teachers from around our school to spend time looking at various ways that our staff teach different aspects of reading to our students.  I was able to spend time with my two Critical Friends observing their interactions with one of their reading groups.

The first group (year 7/8 students) was focusing on creating a "dialogic" classroom.  They spent a chunk of time taking a deeper look at the emotion that was evoked within them as they focused on the cover picture from the reading journal.  The students were respectful, responsive and engaged in the activity.  They were able to answer questions when going around the circle to provide their responses.  The teacher had the students orally repeat words and phrases back as a group often during their discussion.  Prior to reading the text, students were asked to remember the questions that the emotions provoked within them.

The second classroom (year 2 students) learn using iPads and the Explain Everything Application, which I use with one group of my own learners. The learning group I was able to see, read orally from their reading book and their teacher did a great job stopping to have the students discuss necessary/new vocabulary.  She began by asking what word was used to "DESCRIBE" the web in the story.  I loved seeing that year 2 students were already being asked to describe things from their stories (a concept my year 5/6 students have a very difficult time with when writing).  After the students completed their reading, their EE activity was explained.  I loved that they had videos embedded that provided the students with opportunities to expand their own knowledge on similar subjects.  I thought this was great given recent discussions on my own team regarding how to help our students apply (and gain) prior knowledge to apply to their reading.

Being in the classrooms was so fun, and a great way to spend some time reflecting on my own teaching practice.  I look forward to observing (and learning from) my colleagues in the future!