Thursday, July 2, 2015

10 Steps to Independence - Book Study

Hi, there.  I'm joining up again with Primary Inspired and the rest of the great bloggers working through thoroughly understanding the inner workings of The Daily 5.

I'm a little late, though.  Let me tell you what; I put way more thought into my literature review that I was working on (homework) than was necessary.  But once I started writing it, there was no more worrying about whether or not I was doing it correctly.  The words just sort of... happened.

Anyway.  A few days late to this party, but my homework got finished... Worth it!

Now that I'm back on track, we're talking about the 10 steps to teaching and learning independence.

If you know me at all, you know how I love brain research!  It applies so much to how I do things and the rationale behind what I do, both in the classroom and in my life!  It's no wonder that it was so easy to agree with these ten steps.  Honestly, before reading the D5 book, I was already doing probably 7 of these steps... Check me out, being cool before it was cool!  The important take-away from all of this is to make sure that you're activating the whole brain while you're teaching.  That way, you impose upon the students' muscle memories to form habits.

Step 1.  Identify what is to be taught

Pretty simple, right?  But this is a step that I see so many teachers just jump right over!  If you want the kids to learn something, they need to know what it is they are trying to learn!  "[A]rticulating exactly what is going to be taught is an important step to creating independent learners" (p. 37).  This is where your "I can..." statements come in.  State your teaching objective in kid-friendly terms, and you've got yourself a learning objective!

Step 2.  Set a purpose and create a sense of urgency

Tell them the why of what you just told them they were responsible for learning.  The Sisters talk about how they use a section of the i-Charts for this purpose.  That's great, but don't forget to set a purpose for all of your other lessons, too.  Kids don't want to learn about things they don't care about, so you've got to let them know why they should care!

Step 3.  Record desired behaviors on an i-Chart

This works so well!  It makes everything so much easier to reflect upon later because you've given students a rubric right there.. posted on your wall.. for all to see!  When you take away the ability for students to say they didn't know what they were supposed to do, they won't do things they aren't supposed to do anymore.  If your school is using CHAMPS, this is the same idea.  In my classroom, I use the i-Chart as part of my CHAMPS board.  "P" down there at the bottom... "Participation"... "How will Ms. Dawley know that I'm doing my job?"  Well, it's all that stuff on the i-Chart!  Easy, peasy, lemon-squeezy!

Step 4:  Model most-desirable behaviors

Once that i-Chart is made, show, don't tell, the behaviors that you expect to see.  Model, model, model!  As teachers, I feel like we say that a lot.  But again, I see so many new teachers that forget this step.  It's so important to model for students what is expected.

Step 5:  Model least-desired behaviors

Confession:  This is the step that I forgot all of the time!  I've added it in over the last couple of years since reading the first edition, and I have definitely seen its importance to the process.  The best part:  You pick the barometer kid to show the least-desired behaviors, he gets his 15 seconds of fame (the attention that he was going to get anyway by acting up... you've given it to him now on your terms), and he now has that out of his system.  Then you go ahead and let that kiddo show the correct way.  Now, if he does act up during independent work time, you can use the modeling to your advantage.  He has already shown you that he can do his job correctly, so you can point that out!  (Don't forget the last correct model.  People remember the last thing they see or hear.  They need to see and hear the correct model before being released to work.)

Step 6:  Place students around the room

This one has always been sort of tough for me.  I never really know where kids would be comfortable, so I always second-guess the places that I choose for them to sit.  I'm still working on this.  I know I just need to get over it because they will be choosing their own spots soon.  The whole purpose here is to just let them know where they are allowed to sit.  Once they start choosing their own spots, it's easy to say "Remember to stay away from the doors and the water fountain."  They usually do very well when the time comes to let them choose, but I forget every year that the beginning-of-the-year kids are way different than last year's end-of-the-year kids.

Step 7:  Practice and build stamina

This part is important, but it's one of those that I didn't add in when I started teaching.  Why I didn't consider that the kids couldn't behave and stay on task because I didn't let them build up to it was beyond me.  Of course it wasn't my fault! Yes it was.  Now that I have added this in (and we graph the growth as a class), they can work independently for so much longer!!

Step 8:  Stay out of the way

This is so important in the beginning.  True, you are going to think that you won't be able to do this because you need to make sure the kids are on task.  Well, guess what?  They are only ever going to be on task when you're looking at them if you give them that expectation from the beginning!  The goal here, remember, is to teach them to do the right thing even when no one is looking.  You can't teach them that if you're always there to correct them!  Give them some space.  Let them mess up (and they will).  Once someone is off task, note that child as a possible "barometer" child, and go back to whole group.  This is going to be quite the process at the start, but it'll be fine.  (This whole process makes me crazy at the beginning because I feel like my kiddos can't do anything, but it will all be great soon.  So worthwhile.  Trust me!)

Step 9:  Use a quiet signal to bring students back to the gathering place

The noise that will come from cleaning up and coming back together will match the volume of the signal that you use to get the students' attention.  You want to have something calming and quiet.  This will make transitions so much easier!  (Oh, and don't forget the CHAMPS chart for transitions!!)

Step 10:  Conduct a group check-in

And here it is... My last confession for this post:  Here's another step that I would always skip, but it's so important!  As a teacher, I am often reflecting on how things went during a lesson, what I need to do differently next time, interventions that I now need to provide because my students didn't quite get where I needed them to be... The list goes on and on.  You know this; you do it, too.  Well, the same thing is true for those kids!  They need time to reflect to become better.  They won't do it on their own, though.  They need some direction.  Chances are, they've never self-evaluated anything they've ever done before.  (At least that's the case with my Firsties.)  This also a good time for a statement of commitment (because you know I'm a Conscious Discipline fan, too).  That statement would be as simple as "Next time, I will _."  Older kids could write it down on a slip of paper, maybe an exit ticket or something.  Younger children could simply say it to a partner or maybe draw a picture.  I'm going with say it to a partner because this needs to be quick.

There it is.  Those ten steps will make your dive into student independence so much easier, I swear!  But you have to do them all!  Every time!!

Tell me what you think.  I look forward to hearing your perspectives on this whole idea!  If you have a blog, comment here with your blog link.  I'd love to visit you!  Then head on over to Primary Inspired and link up.  If you don't have a blog, comment anyway!

If you'd like to get my graphs for charting students' stamina, you can visit my TPT Store [here] or click the picture below.

I referenced both CHAMPS and Conscious Discipline in this post.  You can get more information on CHAMPS [here] and on Conscious Discipline [here].

If you missed Chapter 2, you can use the image below to navigate your search.


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