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Responsive Classroom Workshop - Grade Proposal
-- Anonymous, December 29, 1999
Responsive Classroom Workshop
During August of 1999 I attended a Responsive Classroom workshop which took place at the Holiday Inn in International Falls. Components of the workshop shop included introductions, songs, activities and games, morning meeting, guided discovery, academic choice, important developmental issues, logical consequences, teacher language, classroom design and organization, strategies for assessment and communication with parents and how to implement Responsive Classroom in the first six weeks of school.
Attending the workshop was an invigorating and educational experience for me. While it is obvious that all the components which make up Responsive Classroom are equally important, I chose the concept of guided discovery as one of the parts I would most like to implement in my classroom this year. To me guided discovery is just as it sounds, an important well thought out teacher-guided process in which a student has the opportunity of being introduced to new or unfamiliar materials, activities, or different ways of learning.
There are some very clear cut goals which should be the focus of a guided discovery activity. The first goal is the importance of trying various techniques in motivating children to investigate. As with any lesson, or activity, motivation is extremely significant in providing children with an interest to become willingly involved in a learning process. The second goal of guiding children to make choices in productive and fulfilling ways, I feel, is essential to their self esteem and their desire to willingly partake in future activities. The third goal of helping children acquire the ability to work cooperatively wherever they are, can be an asset to children in most academic and social settings. Learning to listen and help one another is a great way to help them build empathy and respect. Establishing a common classroom vocabulary will assist both teacher and student is setting up and participating in activities and avoid possible mishaps when cleaning up. Finally, the goal of creating and setting up rules and expectations in the handling of materials gives children clear appropriate ways of doing this within their classroom and even their homes.
To ensure a guided discovery activity runs smoothly and that the goals are successfully accomplished, there are some definite guidelines to follow. The grouping arrangement can vary within a session, which allows teachers flexibility in the types of activities utilized. Next, when introducing a new material, area, or process, it is recommended that all children be a part of a guided discovery session. This helps to safeguard against any problems or mishaps that can occur from inappropriate handling or lack of pertinent knowledge. Making certain that all children are included in creating rules, establishing vocabulary, and being aware of expectations for investigating, I feel, will help children to become more responsible and hopefully internalize their endeavors as well as their achievements. Giving children opportunity to participate in supervised practice gives them a chance to be successful, as well as to learn from their mistakes, without a situation turning into a safety hazard or an embarrassment for the child. Last of all, encouraging children to share their accomplishments during a guided discovery activity is a wonderful way to give them the opportunity to develop good listening and speaking skills.
Like most teachers, I have often introduced new materials, routines, and procedures to my class. In the past I have done this by briefly describing or stating rules associated with that item or process and then engaged my class in a brief discussion before turning my class loose to work. In all honesty, when looking back, I realize that though my students appeared to be listening and interested, there have been several times when the actual procedure didnt turn out as I had intended. Now, its quite obvious to me that I was the one who was really at fault, for not properly introducing and informing my students to the material or situation at hand. Granted, there are always going to be some students who follow the rules and usually do a good job at whatever theyre doing, but there are also always going to be those children who dont usually, or ever, experience this. I feel all students can benefit from guided discovery, but the ones who really have problems behaving and following rules will benefit the most.
An example of how Ive actually used guided discovery in my classroom this year was when I showed my students how to use desk maps. First, I informed them that I was going to show them how to appropriately handle, clean, and store the desk maps that they would be using throughout the year. This type of activity can be done with the entire class or it can be done in small groups, which is how I arranged my class. Next, I engaged my class in what is called active and participatory modeling. To accomplish this I encouraged my students to brainstorm reasons we would need to use desk maps and then ideas on how to actually use them. Then, I had my students brainstorm ways to properly care for the maps. This included what kind of markers would work best on them and how they should be properly cleaned. Finally, we did a lesson in Map Skills in which my students actually used their desk maps. As they were working, I circulated the room making sure that the ideas and rules we developed were being followed. I also encouraged my students to try to figure out answers to their problems by first asking each other before asking me. When the lesson and the cleanup was completed, I had my students share what they learned from their experience with desk maps. All in all it turned out to be a very beneficial experience.
I believe all the goals and guidelines regarding guided discovery are very realistic and attainable if properly followed. If teachers and students are aware of these goals and keep them in mind it is very likely that the experience gained from these sessions will be successful, enjoyable, and prosperous for all involved.
-- Anonymous, December 29, 1999