Sunday, September 8, 2013

Accountable Talk and The First Few Days of School

As I contemplated where I wanted to begin in this  new venture of chronicling the school year through blog posts, I decided to start with the anchor charts and activities that I have started the year with. Many teachers are just now starting to return to the classroom but here in
lovely sweltering Arizona  school has been in session for about five weeks. I love the beginning of the school year as I see it as a fresh start- new kids, new supplies, and the wave of excitement from seeing my 100 8th graders run into the room!
     Every year we begin the school year by setting up our interactive notebooks; this is usually a very stress free activity for students. I ask that my kids bring in three composition notebooks, one for reading skills, one for writing skills and finally my new edition last year that went EXTREMELY well a bell work notebook. Each notebook will need to be numbered so a 100 page composition notebook will yield approximately 200 pages. Once they have numbered their pages they need to create a cover page and start filling out their table of contents.
     One of the first entries into our reading notebook is our Accountable Talk anchor chart. With the new CCSS standards it is vitally important for the next generation of learners to be able to communicate effectively. In order to stress this concept within the first few days all of my classes added the notes
to their notebook and practiced this skill. This year I decided to make a game out of it, middle schooler’s are notorious for being gregarious and truly enjoy expressing their thoughts and opinions. To harness this super power I asked that the students practice this idea of accountable talk by asking questions based on the amount of M&M’s they had picked out of their bag. I gave each student a personal mini bag of m&m’s and posted various questions linked to the different colors of m&m’s. Student one would ask a question to student two and student two would need to respond in a way that allowed the conversation to deepen by using their talking stems. Once student two had answered the question
student one would then need to follow up with either a question to engage deeper or comment on what was just said. Their favorite talking stem seemed to be “So what you’re saying is…” as I heard it multiple times throughout the day! Over all, this lesson went really well! I loved being able to slow down my instruction and teach this important skill. If we want our students to turn and address the speaker and look them in the eye we need to teach them how to do this. If you are interested I have included the questions I gave to my students during this activity!

Hope your first few days go smoothly!

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