Sunday, December 1, 2013

Students Teaching Students!

Keeping up with our classroom this year has been more time consuming than ever before!  Wow!  I've been lacking on posts, but only because the classroom has taken over all my time!  The kiddos are worth it, though!  :-)

When you hear "Students teaching students," you might think I'm referring to students tutoring each other.  NO!  That's not it at all!  I'm referring to students teaching other students the information they've learned about a topic. 
So, part of our life science focus this year has been on animals.  We opted to attack these concepts through research, which the kids really enjoy.

We started with I Wonder questions.  The kids brainstormed questions they wondered about could be anything, as long as it was realistic and a question that could be answered through research.  We recorded all these questions on chart paper and posted them in the room.

My teaching partner and I then did backwards mapping.  In other words, we looked at their questions and at the Ohio Science Indicators to ensure the information we needed to teach them were embedded within their questions.  As is typical, they all were!

The students then got an index card and wrote the top five questions they would like to research.  My teaching partner and I then took the results and grouped the students based on their preferences.  We made decisions based on: 
  • Giving the top question choices to those students who are the most difficult to engage in learning
  • Student personalities
  • Student strengths (i.e. writing, reading)
  • Which students received those questions that were the key focus points in the Ohio Science Indicators
Once the students were grouped, they had a certain amount of time to collect their research, organize it, and then create a poster displaying their information. (We usually give them options on how they demonstrate their information, but we opted to have them all do posters for our gallery walk.)

When all research was complete, we held gallery walks, where students rotated from station to station, with a group of students at each station, sharing what they learned from their research.   Each visitor at a station, wrote down three things they learned and gave them any positive feedback or construction criticism about their presentation/information.  

THE STUDENTS LOVED IT!!  They have asked us to please do more gallery walks.  Seeing how empowered and confident the students were, as they shared their information, was fantastic.  Even the most unengaged students were actively participating!  It was fantastic!

Since then, we have made plans to incorporate other gallery walks into student learning.  The best part is, the students truly did learn from each other; therefore, they were all active participants in the teaching and learning in our classroom community!

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