Ashley Roberts, Spartanburg School District Two
Intentional Questioning, Productive Learning
What would happen if we stopped focusing on our students’ weaknesses and starting looking at what students are doing best? Nancy Frey suggests this is where we should focus our energy, turning our schools into “the best place to work, the best place to teach, and the best place to learn!”
Using a Framework for Intentional Teaching (FIT), teachers begin planning with a purpose. This established purpose directs our attention to our students, rather than the activity, assignment, or task. As teachers, we need to change our question of student learning from “What are you doing?” to “What and why are you learning this?” It is important for educators to help students understand what and why they are learning material by providing them with a purpose that is visible. If someone walked into your classroom and asked your students, “What are you learning today?” “Why are you learning this?” and “How will you know when you have learned it?” how many of them would be able to correctly respond? Studies show students will gain up to three years of progress if they are taught to reflect and critique their learning. At Oakland Elementary (Spartanburg 2), we encourage teachers to utilize Standards Walls, which helps students to visually connect their learning and understand their purpose for learning specific material. (See more information on Standards Walls, here.)
Teachers who use a Framework for Intentional Teaching should ask themselves these questions: How can modeling, demonstrating, and thinking aloud support students to become increasingly self-directed learners? What critical thinking will I model with my students? How and why will I model these skills? It is my responsibility as a teacher to coach and support students in building stamina. When building stamina, the teacher maintains oversight of the students, but allows them to help each other with tasks, becoming their own teachers. The teacher’s role becomes more of a facilitator. Then, as the teacher coaches students to build strength, he or she is right beside the students teaching techniques and strategies to help them learn how to conquer increasingly complex tasks.
When the teacher designs meaningful experiences and outcomes are aligned with an established purpose, this requires INTENTIONAL teaching! Do you know the purpose for what you teach, assign, and expect from your students? And, more importantly, do your students know?
Ashley Roberts is the literacy coach at Oakland Elementary School in Spartanburg (S.C.) County School District Two. She serves as the school RtI coordinator and has facilitated numerous workshops on the topics of inquiry, literacy, differentiation, and technology. She is a graduate of University of South Carolina, has a master’s degree in literacy and a master’s degree in administration. She is currently a South Carolina ASCD Emerging Leader. Connect with Roberts on Twitter @_my3boys.