Know, Want to Know, Solve
KWS stands for what we Know, Want to know, and how might we Solve a word problem. The KWS Chart is a catalyst that gets my students to organize and analyze complex word problems. My students are more successful with word problems when they have a toolkit for simplifying the complex information often found within word problems. This tool is an essential scaffold for English Language Learners in my class. The strategy is also great to uncover with my students the fact that there are multiple ways of solving a problem, no matter how complex it may be, and often times there may be multiple routes to a solution.
In my class, we go over one word a day from the unit we’re learning. The first step is to ask the class how many have heard of the word before. After I tally the number, those students predict its meaning (without giving any contexts). I ask them to justify why they make that prediction (e..g, where have they heard that word before? What clues are they drawing their information from?). After they share their predictions, I then share with them the signal or physical movement attached to word. It then becomes the signal word of the day.
Each week the boat on our ‘Treasure BL Wall’ is moved across three islands until the boat reaches the final island where a treasure awaits the class with a hidden treasure. Once we have reached the treasure the hidden prize usually is something like a popcorn party, movie. pizza party, game time party, or class-selected incentive. This is the last part of the reflection. This part involves students deciding if we should or should not move our blended learning tracking tool towards our end goal. Our tracking tool in my class is the treasure blended learning wall, where students can see their progress and can view blended learning in a game-like way. The game involves students versus fictional characters on our map who are trying to get to the goal before we can.
Every Friday we meet to discuss a topic around character development and 21st century skills. This is a vital classroom practice in my class. Because blended learning is so high paced and intense, students need support as not only learners but people as well. Students transition from their seats to prepare to watch videos or form a circle around the perimeter of our carpet. Our council pieces are brought out. Council pieces are small items that both the students and I have brought which hold major meaning to us. Once we meet, the only person who can speak is the one holding the council piece. We begin by making a dedication to someone in our life or someone we have beeng thinking about. At the end of the dedications, we begin our council. The talking piece is passed around and all students share their thoughts or may pass. Sometimes we will bring an on-demand journal to share, or students may respond to a posed question.