Thursday, March 22, 2012

If You Lead Them, They Will Think

What amazing thinking went on today in my classroom! I pulled out a new poem from our ARMT packet for testing practice called Parrot in the Pine Tree, about someone seeing birds in a tree through a window. We spent several minutes analyzing the text before echo reading it:

  • What type of text do you think this is?
  • What do you notice about it?
  • Do parrots live in pine trees?
  • Then, what can you predict about the genre of the poem?
We began to echo read the poem, practicing fluency, phrasing, and rhythm, and stopping every so often to discuss. Halfway through---I could not have planned this better if I'd tried---I stopped after the line about the walnut, with a genuine question to ask the class: Why was there a walnut if the parrot was in a pine tree? Where did it come from? They started coming up with all of these ideas that I'd never even considered! But the best part was that my little HONEST question lead them to share what they were really wondering and thinking. 

When we got to this line:
 "Or maybe to the deep and very dark forest, Behind the library he knew," 
I paused. A hand went up: "Maybe the writer is looking through a library window and sees the parrot." 
My jaw nearly hit the floor. What?! I hadn't even had time to consider that yet! Talk about being impressed. From there, it continued. I shared that her insight made me think that maybe the writer didn't actually see the birds, but was gazing toward the window and visualized them. Pause. Another child, "Maybe the child is reading by the window, and there really is a pine tree outside, and the pictures in his book are reflected on the window. That would explain the different types of birds." (Jaw-drop moment for me). 

As teachers, that's what we want! We know there's usually more than one way to do something, and many times there's not "one correct answer." We want them to think, consider, imagine---even during test prep. And today, it all started because I was willing to share something that was genuinely confusing to me, then provide time for them to share their thinking. Not a new concept by any means, but still amazingly powerful.  

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