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This is really an opportunity
for us to look at a fifth grade teacher’s
English language arts class, and of course we’re going to be
looking at this through the UDL lens, so, um, let’s take a few moments
and watch, see what happens. So, we talked a little bit
about rhyme scheme, and we looked in a few poems,
and tried to figure out what the rhyme scheme
would be for those poems. Where might you pull words from? What might you use
for the words in your poems? What resources do you have
in your possession that you could use? Lydya? Thesauruses and dictionaries. Yup, you could use those. Kimon. Other books? You could use other
books, yeah, definitely. Ani? Our textbooks. You can use your textbooks. Julia? Our spelling words. Your spelling words, right. That’s–that’s the one that I
was thinking of in particular, is that you have this huge bank of
words, spelling and vocabulary words, that you’ve been accumulating
since September, and I’ve always tried to have
you incorporate those words into your writing,
so that’s another source to use. To get back to what Amin said
about figurative language, What types of figurative language
are we gonna be looking for? There’s a–a lot of building
background knowledge for these kids, and really kinda bringing them up
to speed as to where he wants to move off for–
for the rest of the day. I think that’s really important
in–in terms of the principles of Universal Design for Learning. That background knowledge isn’t
something that we can always assume. It’s been probably at least 24 hours
since they have talked about these kinds of things before, and you just can’t
assume that they’re gonna recall that, so he’s really doing a lot of–
of building back of that information and getting the kids on–
on board, and they are. They–they know their stuff. And on top of that, just supporting
the memory of–of these terms, and–and rhyme schemes
and, uh, helping the kids to again provide examples
of what these look like, so supporting the memory of that. I think even at the same time
he was also highlighting the critical features of a poem. “Here’s the things to
look for in a poem.” So he–he really did quite
a few of the supportive things for presenting information
all in that very brief time. Right, and it wasn’t just an exam
kind of a situation for the students. They were able to look at their notes,
they were obviously referencing back to some key information
that they’d had previously, so they’ve got some–some
supports for them to do that as well. What was good was he was, we’re
now talking about the expressive, uh, kind of guideline, ’cause he’s
preparing them to be expressive, and he really makes explicit
the kind of resources, so he’s assuming that everybody’s
gonna use scaffolds and resources, and so he’s reminding them there’s
thesaurus, there’s these things to use, um, which is a great technique,
to say, “There’s lots of tools to use. Let’s remind ourselves
what they are.” You have, um, some notes that we took
from poems that we looked at yesterday, and when we get back to our
desks to work independently for Writer’s Workshop,
I want you to use those notes, and you can use your books, too,
to come up with your own couplets and your own quatrains,
and if we have some time later, we’ll have some people
sit in the authors chair and share some of what
they’ve written, okay? So, do you all know what your roles
are going to be for after today’s reading? Yes. Okay, who’s gonna be
the discussion director? ‘Kay, who’s gonna be
the summarizer? The connector? Artful artist? Word wizard. Okay, good. You’ve got your resources to use
for when you start reading. Um, go ahead, decide as a group,
decide what you think you’re gonna be reading. If the next chapter’s really short,
maybe you’re gonna read two chapters. If it’s a long chapter,
maybe just read the one chapter, but I leave it up to
you to decide, ‘kay? How are you going to, um… What was really nice
and explicit for the students was the roles that they’re–
they have been playing, and then preparing for the roles
that they’re gonna play in the future, um, in terms of the discussion groups
that they’re having around the literature that they’re involved with. Um, it’s just real nice to see
how explicit he was about it, and that he’s also providing choice
for the students in the number of ways in which they can approach
their next activity, so his roles are just really fun:
the artful artist, and the word wizard, and the summarizer and the connector
and the discussion leader, or document director,
all really, um, very clear roles. Yeah, I was just thinking
of the roles themselves, um, tap a diversity of skills
that students might have. I mean, so there was the word wizard,
so at some point, someone might be one that likes to look at the hard-copy
resources and be able to find words in text, or as the artful artist,
someone might be better able to display what they know
or understand through artwork, so even his roles and how they were
defined allows for diversification of what the students know
and how they can express themselves. He’s letting them make choices,
uh, not only just about, like, what would you read,
but how are you going to express it? How are you gonna decide what
is the right thing, and supporting– It’s very, uh,
a lot of choice here. I think it–it also points out how choice
can be used with high expectations, that, “You’re not always gonna be
the discussion director, David, because that’s what you’re good at. It’s gonna–you’re gonna do the artful
artist one day, even though, you know, you might not be able to draw, but–”
so I think it has that–still has an air of high expectations
for the students. Well, there are other ways
to express how you think and feel other than the text that
we’re taking a look at. You can also do it through drawing,
you can do it through speaking. What kind of a rhyme scheme
do you think you wanna use? Um, like, ABAB. Okay. So like, the first one is gon–
the first verse is gonna rhyme with the third verse,
and the second verse is gonna rhyme
with the fourth verse. Verse or line? Line. Line, okay. Um, do you have an idea
for a topic that you wanna do, or are you just coming
up with the words first? I’m just coming up
with the words first. And then you’ll
pull a topic from that? Yeah, and see what
words I can use. Okay. How are you doing? Were there any words that you
were stuck on, that you didn’t know the meaning of yet? Uh, no. Okay, if you got to a word
that you were stuck on, what would you do? I’d look at the spelling dictionary
to see what the meaning was. Okay, all right. Are you good, though? Do you need any–any assistance
or are you good to work? I’m good. Okay. All right, I’ll check in with you in a little
bit to see how your rhyming’s going. Well, just in terms of what
the student described here, too, I mean, he was just allowing the student
to articulate the steps he wanted to take in order to write the poem,
and he didn’t dictate, “Oh, first you have to do this, this, this,”
but allowed the student to process that. “Well, first I’m gonna write these
rhyming words, and then I’m gonna look and see whether I can call a topic
from that and then move on,” and, um, he saw that the student
had an explicit plan and, you know, it sounded good, and allowed him that,
um, autonomy in the development of– of his poem, of his work. I know, I was struck by that, ’cause
I could never do a poem that way myself. Right. And maybe not him, but he heard
there was a plan, and he said, “Great!” Uh, you know, “Go for it.” “I’ll check back later.” A lot of times we see classrooms
where the teacher has to become the boss, the chief executive,
but here, what they’ve really done is release that to what’s important,
which is helping the students become the executives here,
everything from setting a goal to monitoring their progress. Um, boys and girls, just look
up here for a moment. Um, it’s about the time
that I want you to just transition from what you’ve been doing. Um, if you were–if you were
doing Writer’s Workshop, you can switch to your spelling. If you were doing spelling,
you can switch to Writer’s Workshop to start your poetry for the day. If you’re switching to Writer’s Workshop,
do take a moment to look at the, um, writing timeline chart. if you’re at pre-write,
and you’re moving to rough draft, you can move your name. If you are in another stage
from an earlier piece of writing and you need to move back to pre-write,
you can go move your name for that, and if you’ve been writing, just finish
up the line that you’re working on, and you can start in
on your spelling. The more we see this, we see all
of the aspects of executive functioning is scaffolded, and then, when he
talks about, uh, the timeline, he locates them in,
“Where in the process of writing are we,” and he’s saying that each student
needs to locate themselves, “Are we in the pre-writing phase,”
or whatever, uh, so the timeline itself is a support for planning
and strategy development, so you know where you are in this
process, and we’ve talked also about always indicating what resources
are available and helping the students manage those resources,
and be able to do them, and we also talked about, lastly,
that he is always encouraging them to monitor their progress, and modeling
it for them, and he does it himself, showing “Here’s where we are in
the lesson,” and he’s encouraging them to say “Where are you?”
rather than telling them, so that I think why the classroom
looks so–excuse the expression– orderly, is because there’s a lot
of executive function distributed in the classroom, so it never
looks like people aren’t on task, and it’s, uh, remarkable how
people seem to know everything from what the goal is to how they’re
gonna know how they’re doing, and I love it that he’s not
the only executive in the classroom.

Reynold King

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