February 26, 2016 by sz
February 29 – March 31: Invitational
Week of March 28: Lunch debrief
Environmental invitation: Make Positive Calls Home
This month our invitation is to make personal calls to as many students as you can. Parents are used to getting calls when something’s wrong, or when their children are in trouble, so it’s a real treat to get a call with good news.
You don’t even have to have any news to share. Why not just call to say that you enjoy having their child in your class?
Granted, it would be easier to have something to say to the parents when you call, so try keeping brief notes of students who did great work that day, helped another student, or just smiled and said hello to you. Use those notes as your call list for the day.
Here are a couple examples from teachers who call parents on a regular basis. Both note that they spend 10-15 minutes each day either calling or texting parents.
Building Relationships: “‘No significant learning takes place without a significant relationship.'”
The Power of the Positive Phone Call Home: “What shocked and saddened me were the parents who would say, ‘I don’t think anyone has ever called me from school with anything positive about my child.'”
Imagine the effect we’d have on our students and their families if all our teachers spent just 10 minutes sharing positive messages with our students’ parents!!
Instructional invitation: Cultivating student inquiry and questioning in your classroom
Now that we’re completely immersed in the information age and answers to our questions are literally at our finger tips, Thom Markham argues, “Education’s core task is to prepare young people to generate new ideas, filter them through a net of critical analysis and reflection, and move the ideas through a design process to create a quality product, either as an idea or a material object.”
One way we can foster this process is to help students create their own questions. Two years ago on our opening staff development day, Chris Long introduced our staff to the Question Formulation Technique. I know many of us who tried out the technique that first week to varying degrees of success. I for one have stuck with the process and I’ve become more adept at using it effectively in my class. I’ve also seen some of the most powerful student work as a result of students’ inquiry and exploration on a question they have about a topic.
So for the month of March the instructional invitation is to cultivate student inquiry and encourage student questioning in your classroom.
This will coincide with the Right Question Institute’s Question of the Week event. On their web page they list several exercises to build our questioning acumen:
- 10 questions in 10 minutes
- Why? What if? How?
- How might we?
- The 5 whys (Don’t miss Theriault’s post on asking why)
Try these or come up with your own and share your results with the hashtags: #QuestionWeek and #BaronsAsk.
Why don’t you join us this month?