I begin each lesson every day with a cue set. The reason for this is two fold. First, it helps scholars to gear their brains up for the lesson. The cue set typically relates to the objective and helps scholars to gain some concrete practice with the new skill or access their prior knowledge. Secondly, the cue set sets a tone for the lesson. As scholars enter the room, they have something that is low stakes for them to do and be successful with. It creates an atmosphere where learning is important and not intimidating.
For this lesson, we begin by accessing our prior knowledge regarding the characteristics of a strong team. This is a quick review of what we did yesterday and should be very brief. I say, "Take 1 minute to turn to your partner, and review the characteristics of a strong team that we generated. You are on the clock, go!" I set a timer for 1 minute. The reason I time scholars is to keep the pace of the lesson up and to eliminate "down time" where scholars can become disengaged. Again, this communicates to scholars that learning time is sacred and we are very purposeful about the way in which we spend our time.
During the minute, I circulate and talk to 1-2 partners and listen to their discussion. I circulate to hold scholars accountable for their learning and to take a quick pulse on where we are with our understanding. If no one remembers the characteristics of a strong team, I will adjust by regrouping and reviewing the characteristics using call & response. If everyone discusses the characteristics in 30 seconds, we move on the the next part of our lesson.
As I circulate, I expect to hear scholars say things like, "Strong teams are prepared. They know each others' strengths and weaknesses. They remain focused on their goal and work hard to attain the goal." If partnerships struggle, I reference the poster that we created yesterday.
I say, "One of the characteristics of a strong team is that all teammates adhere to a set of rules. If it is a football team, they follow football rules. For example, they can't grab face masks. The rules exist to help the football players attain their goals and to keep them safe. We have rules in school too."
I ask students to chorally share our school rules. I do this by cuffing my ear with my hand. They know that this means they can share without raising a hand. Our school rules are P-productive learning, A-Always follow directions, W- will respect others, S-keep self-to-self.
I explain that these rules are a little ambiguous, "I mean, what does productive learning ACTUALLY mean? What does that look like in our classroom?" I model thinking aloud, "In the classroom, productive learning might look like scholars being silent when the teacher is talking. It might sound like a low buzz of noise during small group time." I record these thoughts on a poster.
Each post-on group is assigned a PAWS value (productive learning, always follow directions, will respect others or keeping self-to-self). I tell them that they have 7 minutes to describe what their assigned value looks like and sounds like in the classroom. I place 2 markers and 1/2 sheet of chart paper, divided into 2 sections: Looks Like/Sounds Like in each corner of the room.
Scholars go into post-on note groups (each student has a post-it note that is either a bow-tie, mustache, sunglasses or a hat). Students do the 1, 2, 3, 4 (1:stand up, 2: push in chair, 3: turn shoulders, 4: walk quickly and quietly to your place). I give them 10 seconds to go to the pre-assigned area of the room for their group.
As groups work together to describe what the value looks like/sounds like, I circulate the classroom and support groups. I ask them questions like, "what does that mean? Tell me more about what you would see scholars doing? What might you hear?" The challenge here is to get scholars to be CONCRETE about what they expect. "Doing work" Or "working hard is NOT acceptable because it is not concrete enough. You have to see the behavior or hear it (i.e. Pencils up and writing during independent practice).
Scholars are also responsible for recording the groups discussion on the rules graphic organizer. This holds all scholars accountable to discussion, thinking and recording instead of having just 1 person write.
I usually give students a brain break here -- we do a chant or cheer (i.e. PUMP IT UP!). Scholars have been working hard for a good chunk of time, and since it is the beginning of the year, they may not have much stamina. Also, this stimulates blood flow to the brain thereby increasing engagement.
"Now, we are going to watch this hockey video. As we watch, ask yourself this question: Is the team accomplishing its goal? How do you know?"
The video shows a hockey team playing, and then getting into a fight. You want to lead students to see that they can, in no way, accomplish their goal of winning the game by fighting with each other.
Then, have students Think, Pair, Share the following question: What would a strong team do to prevent this from happening. -- Challenge students to think about what individual teammates responses should be and what the teams response should be. You want to hear things like, "the individuals should tell the players to stop. The team should try to find out how they can prevent this from happening again."
Now, scholars get into their post-it note groups (based on the color of the post-it note on their desk). I tell them that each group will get a PAWS value and they are going to think of what an individual's response should be if someone violates that value. Then, they think about what a team response should be.
For example, if someone says, "You are ugly," what should the individual at whom this was directed do? What should other teammates do? I modeled this with my scholars, and we said that the individual should say, "that really hurts my feelings, please don't say that." If it happens again, the individual should tell the teacher. The team response might be, "That's not very kind. Remember Will respect others is one of our PAWS values. We need to work together as a team to attain our goals." We said that the teacher response might be a non-verbal reminder, a verbal reminder or a paycheck deduction. If the behavior continues, then it might be a behavior plan, a phone call home, the planning room or a referral.
I send a very strong message here that I do not expect ANY scholar to reach the referral or planning room level of consequence. They have 3 or 4 opportunities to fix the behavior before they reach that point. Also, I explain that they are all good kids and it is OK if they make a mistake: we all do. The important thing is that we know why we made the mistake, we learn from the mistake and do our best not to let it happen again.
They are on the clock for 7 minutes to create their 1/2 chart of individual response and team response. Again, I circulate and challenge students to be more specific and to ensure all teams are on task. Individuals are responsible for recording their thinking and the teams thinking on their individual consequences sheet.
Scholars have 1 minute to read the commitment at the bottom of the consequences sheet. They then sign and commit to being a member of our classroom team. These sheets are then stapled to the inside cover of their agenda notebook. Should any infraction arise throughout the course of the year, we bring these commitments out and discuss how we are impacting ourselves and our team.