I explain that today students will work in groups of four to apply one of the terms we learned yesterday to "Click, Clack, Moo, Cows That Type." I add that they will also differentiate between level 1, level 2 and level 3 application, thus applying Costa's Levels of Questioning at the same time. Specifically, students are instructed to work with their group to select one term that is addressed in this story. Each group is asked to work on one sheet of paper, which has to be divided into three sections. Each section will be designated for each level of application. On the board, I write the following and explain that this is the content expected in each of the three sections:
I make sure students understand that I consider the first part level 1 because they are simply selecting a term and writing it on the paper and they are copying a line straight from the text. I clarify that this does not mean it is not an important skill. On the contrary, the ability to accurately apply these terms and select supporting evidence is very important. However, the actual thinking required for level 2 and level 3 is much more demanding than level 1. I deliver a similar explanation for the other two levels to help them see the following:
Students are given time to work with their group on this assignment. They need access to the children's story we are working with, "Click, Clack, Moo, Cows That Type." You will need a few copies for students to share, or do what I did. I scanned the pages of the story and printed the story in the form of PowerPoint slides on two double sided pages and made enough copies for students to share. Each group is given a couple of copies of the PowerPoint slides to refer to as needed.
During this time, I walk around and listen in on their conversations. The first part of the task is not particularly difficult. Students find that several terms apply to the story quite easily. They also find it easy to select supporting evidence. Because this is the second time students work in small groups during this school year, I take this as an opportunity to focus on guiding students to participate in an appropriate manner. Some will want to take this as an opportunity to chat with friends so I have brief one-on-one discussions with these students. I also make general announcements regarding the importance of discussions in an ELA classroom and the implications to their grade. I am very interested in making sure they know these activities are important in this classroom. These are opportunities I need them to use to develop Speaking and Listening skills central to the Common Core.
The second part of the task, where students have to explain their thinking and make connections at a global scale is more challenging. During this time I focus on sitting with groups of students and assisting them by asking guiding and clarifying questions. They have a particularly difficult time with level 3. I end up asking several groups to consider the questions, "Why is X term significant? Why should people be aware of these ideas? Why does this matter in the world?" This helps clarify.
Each group gets an opportunity to present what they came up with. Students project their paper on the board and stand in front of the class explaining what they have written. I give students the option of sending one or two representatives to present or to have the entire group of four present. This is the first presentation of the year. It is helpful for students to have a paper with the information they are to present already written on it. Still, as students present, I request that they push themselves to explain what is on the paper and not just read it aloud for us. Students will end up giving you a combination of this. I am ok with this. I have the rest of the year to get them used to speaking without reading straight from a paper. I have to begin setting this standard now in order for students to make presentations that meet Common Core standards.
The written work they completed on these charts is a bit limited, but there is evidence that they have a good understanding of the terms and that they did engage with the information at different levels. See some sample responses in this video.