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What I learned by modeling a lesson

A few weeks ago I was asked to model a math lesson.

To second graders.

This was the first time I had taught the new math program my district adopted. This was the first time I taught a lesson using the common core.

It was a little scary.

Well, okay…it was a lot scary.

You see, I am a staff developer…in other words a coach (and do a lot of other things).

I got onto the the computer portal of the math program and found the area where new updated lesson plans were located. I found the lesson that I was asked to teach, printed it off, and then read, highlighted, read some more, thought about how this was going to work, ran each piece through my mind…basically I over planned. By a lot!

I wanted to model ways to allow for discussion among students.

I created four steps to allow for discussion through modeling:

1. Explain the activity ( you will be discussing this problem with your shoulder partner)

2. Model the activity or how you want students to discuss

3. Set expectations. Students will only rise to your expectations, but they need to know what you expect!

4. Check for understanding. Do students really know what you want them to do? Ask them.

I went through these four steps often. And had students discuss a lot. I wanted my principal and the teacher whose class I was teaching in to know that students CAN learn in a different way.

Some things I learned:

1. Planning is key. You really need to know what the lesson is and where the lesson is going with the idea that you may need to be flexible.

2. As a teacher is teaching a lesson, flexibility is key by changing direction than originally planned. As I was teaching and playing a game called “Quiz-Quiz-Trade” (a Kagan structure), I knew that there were some students who didn’t know how to count by 5s, 10s, and 100’s. Basically they didn’t know place value yet. Because I knew this information by playing the game with the students, I knew that I need to reinforce place value and counting by doing another activity that wasn’t planned. I could also use this information for quick interventions and what I would want those students to do for classwork and homework.

3. Never assume that students will give you “surface” answers to questions. I asked students to give me multiple representations for the number 220. I got expanded form, pictures, words, dollar form, etc. I was blown away by the thought process from second graders.

4. Kids love to discuss. They love to talk. If kids know how to discuss, then they will own their own learning. When kids do the talking, they are the ones learning.

5. Try new things. Kids love it when they are doing new things. Stay away from the rut that programs can often lead to. If the idea that you try flops, that’s okay. Reflect on how and why it flopped and try the idea in a new way to see if it is successful.

6. When having students discuss, they will need to build stamina. If you were to throw me on a track and say run an 800m, I would pass out. I couldn’t do it because I don’t have the stamina to run that long. I would have to start out running super short distances that would lead up to the 800m. This is the same that goes for discussing on topic about a concept in math (or in any other content area). Start by using a timer and saying, “I want you to discuss for 30 seconds”. Then the next day add another 30 seconds for a whole minute and so on.


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One thought on “What I learned by modeling a lesson

  1. So true! I never thought about building stamina in engaging discussions with students, but it makes total sense. We read daily to build stamina and complete quick writes in class too, I will have to add the discussion stamina too.

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