An example part 3

Five minutes later when about five sticks are in order of length:

Teacher Nahir, I notice you watching Rhana – can you explain what she is doing? Here the teacher draws in more children when one child is tending to dominate and complete the task alone. She deliberately chooses a child who is clearly learning from Rhana’s method. He can use the method but has little experience in explaining. The teacher wants to give the child time to find words and challenges Rhana to listen to his explanation. The other children in the group all become more engaged in trying to explain. They realise that Rhana is not going to be allowed to complete the task and that there is a role for them too. They now all try to help explain.
Nahir he’s doing this. [He demonstrates byputting a stick on top of the line and going along until it is shorter than the next one where he slips it in place.]
Teacher Why did you put it in there?
Nahir ‘Cos it fits.
Rhana It’s because …
Teacher Just a second … Let us have a little time to think so we can all find the words to explain.
Rhana Well I can tell you.
Teacher Yes, but everybody needs a chance to think and a chance to speak. So you listen to how they explain and see what you think … maybe you’ll be able to add to the explanation when they’ve had a chance.
Nahir When you go along … the stick sticks out

… it’s a bit too big … then …

Stella It gets too small.
Nahir Yes, then the next one is bigger and so the stick has to go there.
John Yes, when it doesn’t stick out no more, it fits in.
Teacher OK. Let’s do one as we explain then.
Nahir Here look I go along … too big … too big   … too big …
Barry Now … now it’s too small, look, no bit sticking out.
Fran Oh I get it The teacher remains patient and watches for opportunities where the children can correct each other and develop their ideas. At first, the activity is dominated by one girl, but through the teacher’s questioning and direction all the pupils become involved and at the end they knew they had all contributed.
Teacher Fran, do you want to have a go and show us?

[Fran repeats the action and the words too big, too big … until …]

Fran Here, it goes here. Look there’s only a little bit sticking out … it’s like stairs.
Teacher Right, we have a few sticks in. What do you think, Rhana? Can you add anything to the explanation?
Rhana Well, you need to see when it’s not long enough any more and that’s why you go along the row until you come to the one that is longer.
Teacher Right, well, let’s see if we can finish the job.

This activity has a second set of sticks which can be added to make the task more challenging for a group that has done the first part easily, but here the teacher decided not to add in this second set of sticks but to use the remaining time to engage in metacognition and review of the task (see also Chapter 4 on metacognition).

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Lets Think Handbook Copyright © by Alex Black. All Rights Reserved.

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