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I can precisely explain...

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Christine Newville

Response Paper #3

Key words


The teacher has written three questions on the board.

 What is a fact? What is an opinion? How do you know?


She is standing in front of the uniformed class; all the students are sitting at clumps of tables. Each group of three or four desks has a themed title- patience, kindness, honestly, effort. The students are talking and chatting among themselves, they have just come in from lunch or a previous class and have been sorted out into ability groups, and this is the ‘achieving on level with grade or above group’. All the students sit at their own desk with their name on the back of their chair, but occasional students are not sitting in their assigned chair, but rather with a friend.


The teacher begins talking to the class, telling them to think about their learning goals for these questions are. One student raises his hand and volunteers an answer. The teacher replies that she did not ask for any suggestions yet, but would like them to think about their learning goals in silence for a few seconds. After a few moments the teacher asks the students to say their learning goals. One student says, “I wanna be able to show how it’s true”, the teacher asks them to reply using the ‘key words’ they learned last week. The student thinks for a while and then responds, “ I can explain how it is true”. “Good” says the teacher and writes that sentence on the board. The students volunteer more answers to the questions on the board, beginning their sentence with “I can identify…” or “I can explain…” and other pre-formatted sentences. The teacher corrects their grammar and asks them to differentiate between fact and opinion using current events and a local baseball team to determine opinion sentences and fact sentences.




            I believe that the goal of the teacher was to instill not only a difference between fact and opinion, something in the curriculum. But also introduce a formal academic vocabulary to the students and encourage them to use large and complicated words rather than their usual terminology. While I like the idea of incorporating new words into the classroom to grow vocabularies and have the student become comfortable using them in everyday speech. I was that most kids were only trying to use the words rather than achieve the lesson plan of the day and the meaning of the class. For example, a student would be more concerned with using the large words and phrasing than they would be with correctly using it to create meaning from their statement, or truly thinking about what their learning goals were. I would have liked to see the teacher review what these key words meant (maybe she had another class that I had not seen).

            One thing that I did find good about her mini lecture and something that we often do in our own class is a moment of reflection. During these moments of reflections students are able to parse out their own thoughts and ideas, without the stress of missing their chance or missing class discussion. I think this also could build a groundwork of teaching students to use this strategy when taking on big ideas and projects- to think about this first and examine how they wish to approach it, rather than diving right in.