When Your Get Up and Go is Gone

Thursday, May 19, 2016
hobbling toward the finish line, Suzanne

I can't even.  Not one more thing.  Ideas and creativity are distant memories.  Are you there?  The end of the school year is hard, but one thing we both know that the more "business as usual, the better.

I recently had the opportunity to work with a group of 6th graders.  They were specially selected because they were either going to pass or fail STAAR by a small margin.  I L.O.V.E.ed working with them!  Each day they blew me away with their thoughts and justifications.  There is power in a small group, Secondary Peeps!  That's a soapbox for another blog post though.  As much as I love them, the school year had taken it's toil on me, and I was spent.  Luckily, they had worked with Nine Square in their classroom before and were familiar with the process.  I was going to try something new!  It was either going to be brilliant or up in flames!  Thankfully, the former prevailed.  

In a previous day's session (we met for about 30 minutes each day), we read and worked with an excerpt from the first chapter of Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis.  I asked them to mark three important details (something you can touch right there in the passage) in the text.  I then gave them three Post-it notes.  They were told to either write down exactly or paraphrase the important details they selected.  I then gave them two new Post-it notes.  On these they were asked to write two true things about the story but that you couldn't point to (inferences).  I modeled this thinking by talking through two different parts of the story that I could point to and connecting them with my own thinking.  

Now we were ready to play!  I asked students to work in groups of 3-4.  They were to read through and select 1 on their inference statements.  Now the group was tasked with choosing two details from their collection that best supported this inference.  I also made extra Post-its available in case they wanted to write a new detail.  Students shared their connections aloud with the group.  We tried it a second time with a new inference.  Wash-rinse-repeat.

While they were working, I mean days before when I was tirelessly preparing this lesson, I wrote out two theme statements (true in the story but big about life).  I then gave each group a theme statement.  They had to select (or write) one inference that best supported the theme and one detail that best supported the theme.  There should be a common thread that runs throughout all three Post-its- detail, inference, theme.  

Overall, I was really pleased with the thinking and talking that happened.  I think that a key to success was that students were familiar with the Nine Square activity and train of thought.  

What are you doing to engage learners on this final stretch?

1 comment

  1. I used your 9 Square with some students who were finished with the given assignment. They did very well with it. Next year, I plan to use it for small group and collaborative work. Thumbs up!