Whole Group Exploration
Whole Group Exploration is a form of whole group instruction where we work with conceptual models to understand the algorithm behind solving math problems. Students work with whiteboards at the carpet as we discuss and work through a series of problems that build and understanding of our skill. As students successfully prove that they are ready to work independently, I dismiss them to their seat with our practice, keeping the students who need additional support to go through more practice problems. This strategy allows me to give more support to students who need it and release students who are ready to excel.
While the majority of students are working on leveled online practice, I pull groups for leveled interventions. In these targeted small gropus, I give support to students practicing the same level so they can advance to the next level. We identify the skill at hand, work on some practice problems using white boards, and then spend time working on the online practice individually. Students have the opportunity to collaborate, supporting each other in figuring out the skill to pass the level.
Teachers need feedback from their students constantly to make good decisions. One way I check what my students brains are doing is through Post it Power. This strategy involves students writing an answer to either a reflective question or math problem that will illuminate their understanding. Using this information, I get a powerful, visual snapshot of the class that helps me to make decisions about the following days' lesson.
Part of building a reflective classroom is giving students the space to reflect on all aspects of their learning from their behavior to the resources in the room. Goal setting is a way to teach this expectation, whole group, to students early in the year, and as a way to focus them during it. Each Monday, students write a Goal post it that has some sample questions to guide students. Ultimately, students can select their own topic, and that free range takes time to nurture into SMART goals. Many students write something like "listen in class" but when we discuss on Tuesday and say "Did you reach this goal?" the answer is not measureable. We want our students to see goals as a procedure that can guide their self-driven learning, not as a reaffirmation of the teacher's thoughts or wants for the student.