November 2019

Posted by David Wiechmann on 11/14/2019

Happy Fall Dearing Families!

We are in full gear at this point in the year and I thought I would take the opportunity to let you know about one of our biggest focuses this year and that is student talk. We are providing many “talk” opportunities throughout instruction, but it’s not just chit-chat. Students are working to have focused conversations that are academic in nature. We are working on this for several reasons. Conversations build academic language, vocabulary, literacy skills, oral language, communication skills, critical thinking. The also foster creativity, promote different perspectives, cultivate connections and help students to co-construct understanding. All of these are life skills that will benefit students across all core areas of instruction.

We began this journey last year, focusing on students connecting to one another’s ideas. Sometimes it was a simple connection and sometimes a student would disagree or agree, but would provide justification for their thought. Our students became quite proficient with this skill.

While we continue to work on refining this, we have expanded our focus this year, teaching students to prompt one another and the teacher with clarifying questions. Sometimes the purpose of the question is to better understand what was said, but many of our students are already learning to prompt one another for reasons and/or examples of a statement, which really supports deeper understanding. It’s exciting to watch this develop.

You may be wondering what you can do to help us foster these skills? You can ask your child about sentence stems and how they are used in the classroom. When your child shares something with you, ask them to provide evidence for their thinking or to “justify” their thinking. It’s a tiny step that requires a deeper level of thinking. Don’t be surprised when your child asks you to justify your position. Don’t be too hard on him/her, as your child is turning into a critical thinker and we love that!

Christy Chandler
Principal, Dearing Elementary

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Dearing Digest - November 2019