Real World Hook
One way we bring authenticity to our lessons is by making explicit connections or real world hooks to what we're learning. What I particularly enjoyed about our persuasive writing unit is that we were able to identify real problems in our own school community and to think of solutions. It then brought about real change in our school, and in this case brought about getting more magazines into the classroom which was an identified need of our class.
I ask Student Scouts to identify peers who demonstrate the three class standards/rules (showing respect, solving problems, and making good decisions) to reinforce the idea that good behavior is rewarded both intrinsically and extrinsically. Student Scouts identify their peers who are showing these standards at various pausing points throughout the lesson and give out Literacy Awards. Pausing points are planned purposefully and serve as opportunities for students to practice monitoring and assessing their own behavior.
At the conclusion of our team sessions my students self-assess, give feedback/compliments to one another, and agree or share out their disagreements with one another. Our two areas of focus right now are collaboration and accountability. My students score themselves on a scale from 1-4 on these habits and then track their progress daily/weekly in order to consider their next steps or provide feedback to one another. Perhaps most importantly, the sentence stems within the rubric help my students develop a repertoire of conversational skills they will need in the 21st century and beyond.
Explicitly stating the Goal of the Day is a deliberate strategy I employ at the beginning of my lessons to ensure that my students understand the purpose (both short- and long-term) of the work we will be doing together. Reviewing the Goal of the Day clarifies for my students the larger meaning behind the smaller and more discrete pieces of learning they do every day. It also helps us all remain focused on my students' larger dreams and aspirations.