Thursday, May 14, 2015

Fostering “Academic Conversations” in ALL content areas in K-12 Grade Levels Speaking and Listening Across the Common Core

You can access today’s slides by clicking HERE.

Learning Targets for today:
  • Analyze the College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Speaking and Listening
  • Learn how to integrate academic discourse into classroom conversations
  • Learn how to incorporate productive group work routines 

It has been my experience that teachers have some form of group work imbedded in their weekly lessons. However, it usually is a simple task that student leaders or “worker bees” complete easily. Students that tend to struggle allow others to take the lead and are usually left out of the discussion. In the Common Core standards, instruction needs to be deliberate and students need to be provided with multiple opportunities to collaborate and engage in group tasks. How can we do this and what does it look like? Today’s presentation is all about what that looks like in our classroom. Angelica Paz, David Keys, and I put together some of our best tips of how to incorporate productive group work in your classroom. We also recorded our class collaborating. Our goal is that teachers begin to find ways to gradually release the responsibility of learning to the students. We should be the facilitators in the classroom and students should guide their own learning.

Productive Group Work
Productive group work is part of a larger discussion of effective instruction. Incorporating group work into lessons involves lessening a teacher’s control over every aspect of the instructional process, toward asking students to assume greater responsibility for their learning (Fisher & Frey, 2008). Fisher and Frey describe the transition in a classroom as moving from one where the teacher “does it” to one where students “do it together.” They identified four components to such a classroom:
  1. Focus Lesson - The teacher establishes the lesson’s purposes and models his or her own thinking for students.
  2. Guided Instruction - The teacher strategically uses assessment, prompts, and cues and questions to guide students into increasingly complex thinking and students’ assumption of greater responsibility.
  3. Collaborative Learning - The teacher designs and supervises tasks that enable students to consolidate their thinking and understanding and that require students to produce individual products that enable the teacher to assess their learning.
  4. Independent Tasks - The teacher designs and supervises tasks that require students to apply the information they have learned in new and authentic products. (SOURCE: Frey, Fisher & Everlove, 2009, p. 6).
Steps that move the learning to collaboration:
ü Focus Lesson to establish purpose and modeling
ü Guided instruction with cues, prompts and questions
ü Collaborative Learning- Consolidating Thinking with peers
ü Independent Learning tasks

The Keys to Productive Group Work
§  Students must be taught how to talk with one another.
§  Teachers need to know how to move them.
§  Know what you’re looking and listening for.
§  Make tasks engaging and interactive.



How do we know when Group Work is productive?
§  Knowledge is built and extended between the exchange of ideas
§  Task must require Individual Accountability
§  Level of difficulty so students can consolidate their understanding
§  Too Easy – Students will divide and conquer and reassemble to turn in
§  Should be hearing academic language and academic vocabulary – “Using the language of the lesson”
§  If the conversation is mostly about logistics then we’ve missed the mark

I prepared terrific freebies for you! Click on the following link to access a bunch of my posters I use to set up collaborative groups and rubrics to measure success.


Productive Group Work:  

The Role of Collaboration in Learning
§  Done properly, productive group work results in:
       Increased self esteem
       Improved relationships among students
       Enhanced social and communication skills
       Higher levels of academic learning and retention than peers working individually
In successful cooperative groups, each member has a task with the teacher as a frequent monitor and “guide on the side” instead of the “sage on the stage.”

Visit my NEA Greater Public Schools (NEA GPS Network) site to join me in a conversation about these resources. By providing me with feedback, it allows me to see what other educators across the nation are doing to meet the needs of our diverse population of students.
This site is free and its the largest professional learning community in the nation. Click on the link HERE to take you there. 

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