Building Relationships with All Students
By: Ali Tanner
Every day in classrooms across Jeffco, whether virtual or in-person, educators are working hard to build and maintain relationships with their students. This is no easy task. We aren’t just building relationships with students on the surface, but striving to cultivate a lasting connection with far less face-to-face time than ever before. Our ‘teacher hearts’ know the positive impact that relationships can have on the learning culture of our classrooms. Research also supports this idea, with Teacher-Student Relationships having a whopping 0.52 effect size according to John Hattie’s work in Visible Learning. We know quality teacher-student relationships play a foundational role for student success.
As we reflect on the culture of our classrooms and our touchpoint with students, we might consider these questions (adapted from the Distance Learning Playbook, pg. 51 and 62):
One strategy you could use to continue to deepen your conversations and relationships with students is called “What’s in MY News?”. This strategy, shared by Sarah K. Ahmed in Being the Change, provides a place and space for your students (and yourself if you’d like to join in) to share what is on their mind - what is currently ‘their news’. Examples of student news could range from “I am worried about my grade” to “tomorrow is my birthday.” This strategy could be adapted for content specific news (maybe tied to self-reflection and assessment) or more open-ended depending on your students and your classroom.
Start off with a blank table like the one shown above. Model for the students how they might complete each section of the table, being sure to make connections between what we are feeling, why we might be feeling it, and what we can do moving forward. Once they have completed the table, you could create an opportunity for students to share their news, or use this as a silent reflection tool. To start, you might consider using only the first two columns. Then, as your students grow comfortable with the strategy, you can add in the identity and action pieces. Any way you choose to adapt and use this strategy in your classroom, you are sure to learn a little bit more about your students and, in turn, strengthen your relationship with them.
Science: Journey or Destination?
The science team was presented with a fun challenge of creating a key for an assessment sample from the Wonder of Science. Fifth grade teacher-extraordinaire, Lynn Story reached out requesting the solution to identifying the mystery location presented in an assessment from theWonderofScience.com. She explained that her students were engrossed in the exercise and were looking for confirmation.
Lightbulb! The science team offered to meet with Ms. Story’s students the following week so they could present their evidence that supported their answers. We couldn’t wait to meet the students to hear their responses, but there was something big missing - we didn’t know the REAL answer! How exciting! And what a great opportunity to dive into the reality of scientists all over the world! Of course, we wanted to give it a go. So on a Friday evening, with puzzled looks from our spouses, we started to work. After Googling any possible answers unsuccessfully, we rolled up our sleeves and engaged in the exercises of the assessment. Texting back and forth, the team couldn’t come to an agreed upon location and ended with high hopes that the 5th graders at Leawood could set us straight.
Where was this video shot?
The time-lapse video provides clues that guide students to identifying the location of the video. Additional data such as length of shadows at specific times throughout the day, compass direction of the shadow, and temperatures offer further hints to help narrow down the location.
We won’t ruin your own fun, but rest assured the students at Leawood provided convincing evidence for their responses. Lynn Story also reached out to Paul Anderson, creator of the assessment from the WonderofScience.com and Bozeman Science on YouTube, who confirmed her students’ responses!
If your students want to stump the science team or share their learning adventures, please reach out!
Megan Hurley and Cathy Goodheart
The Power of Questioning
By Lindsey Kjoller
As teachers we know the benefits of supporting students with small groups or individually based on specific learning needs. The ability to masterfully guide students’ thinking and foster a learning environment of curiosity and discovery, is the magic of powerful coaching in these small groups. In this section of the Distance Learning Playbook, Coaching and Facilitating, Fisher, Frey, and Hattie dive into the importance of questioning and prompting in successful coaching and facilitating. Second only to teacher talk, questioning is the number one teaching strategy used by teachers.
John Hattie has done extensive research on effect size, ranking 138 influences that are related to learning outcomes from very positive effects to very negative effects. Hattie identifies 0.4 as the hinge point, or the point in which an influence impacts a students growth about a year. Questioning has an effect size of 0.48. Teachers ask a lot of questions, in fact between 100 and 350 a day (Brualdi, 1998; Clinton & Dawson, 2018; Livin & Long. 1981; Mohr, 1998). If we can incorporate metacognitive strategies into these questions, the effect size increases to 0.55.
Being specific with the types of questions we use can help guide students towards meaningful learning. When students are unable to answer questions, teachers can use prompts to focus on the cognitive and metacognitive processes that support students. There are several different types of prompts teachers might use to support student thinking including prompts that:
Similarly, simple cues can artfully guide a student's thinking. Types of clues include:
Teacher talk moves that focus on revoicing, repeating, reasoning, adding on, and think alouds are another way teachers might thoughtfully push students with their cognitive and metacognitive thinking. Although these teacher discourse moves were designed to support student engagement in mathematical discussions, they are general enough to apply in many different content areas.
If you are interested in learning more about the art of questioning and metacognitive strategies, consider diving into more from Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey in the Gradual Release of Responsibility Instructional Framework.
K-5 Sample Literacy Lessons
Curriculum & Instruction