Saturday, September 28, 2019

Cultivate Classroom Chemistry and Community

It’s been a while since I have presented at a California Teacher’s Association (CTA) conference! I am an active member in my local constantly looking for ways to encourage educators to lead in our profession. My focus has gone to building capacity at my local and helping teachers advocate for teacher led workshops. As a member of the ILC (Instructional Leadership Corps), I have built a team for the last 5 years in Montebello Unified School District, that lead professional development. I think we are closer than ever in reducing the outsourcing of professional development and truly building a bank of teacher, who are content experts, in our district that want to provide workshops for teachers. It’s exciting work and humbled by the support of my colleagues for taking time out of their busy day spent teaching to be part of the ILC work.

Moreover, I am delighted to be here today with educators from Region 3. The theme of this conference is “Membership Matters.” It does and I am here to share what I’ve been doing in my classroom the last few years to cultivate chemistry and community with my students.

Each of the strategies discussed today focus on four key components:
  • Daily News - Previews the activity’s focus and helps students shift into thinking gear as they transition from home to school.
  • Greeting - Teaches students to respectfully greet someone they hardly know or don’t particularly like.
  • Share - Provides time to talk about daily issues as well as challenging topics like bias, discrimination, justice and acceptance.
  • Activity - Connects students through play and activities that allow them to voice their opinions and discover commonalities.

Walk and Talk Directions:

How to Use
1. Prepare & Pose
Prepare a prompt or question that has multiple answers and requires discussion. Pose the prompt to students and tell them how long they will have to discuss with a partner. At the end of this time, they will share their response with the class.
2. Walk & Talk
Students pair up and walk around the room with their partner the allotted time. During this time, they are discussing their response. They must agree on a response that they will share with the rest of the class.
3. Freeze
After the allotted time has passed, ask students to freeze where they are. Do a quick whip around the room to hear each partner group’s response.
4. Discuss
Be sure to discuss any errors in thinking or misconceptions that were shared, as well as point out any great ideas.
When to Use
Use Walk, Talk, and Decide at any time during a lesson to encourage accountable talk:
- As a warm-up activity to discuss previous lesson or homework assignment
- During class discussions as a way for students to discuss ideas before sharing them with the class
- During Guided Practice to get students talking about the material just covered
- As a closing activity so that students can synthesize new learning or apply it in a new context

Exampled of Walk and Talk Questions for Students
(Rewrite the questions onto index cards)

  1. What are you hoping to learn from other people’s projects? 
  2. What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned so far?
  3. What makes an engaging and exciting presentation? 
  4. What is one challenge you’re facing with your project so far? 
  5. What is at least one positive thing about you and your partner collaborating? 
  6. When working on a big project, how do you break it down into manageable parts? 
  7. How do you know a resource or website is credible? 
  8. What are some challenges in your research? What is a possible solution for this challenge? 
  9. Are there any experts you can contact to ask questions about your project? 
  10. Have you remembered to paraphrase what you learn from the Internet? What is one tip for paraphrasing? 
  11. Complement your project partner on something they’ve done well. 
  12. Ask your walk & talk partner a question about their project or research. 
  13. What are you most excited about for this project? 
  14. Describe your artifact for your project? 
  15. What did you accomplish today? What do you still need to finish? 
  16. What resources (website, video, etc.) have you found the most helpful? 
  17. How do you feel about presenting in front of the class? What do you need to do to prepare? 
  18. What are some tips for making interesting presentation slides?

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