My cousin Laurie skillfully and bravely teachers senior AP English. The tall kids scare me, but she was born to do what she does. A few weeks ago she shared with me a lesson from her classroom that she was going to present to a group of teachers. Knowing that some elementary people would be in the crowd, she asked me about the connections I saw in her lesson to my own classroom. By the way, we've discovered over and over the many similarities between our two grade levels. On many an occasion, one of us will say something about a lesson from our classroom and the other will affirm that they've taught the same thing. She thinks we should write a book. Anyway, the big idea of the lesson she was presenting was asking students to notice. I had a few ideas for her but it wasn't until the next day when I was with my class that I discovered how many times throughout the day I expected the kids to notice and express their findings. I should have kept track of how many times I said, "What do you notice?" and how many times I heard back, "I notice that..." Here are a few I remember.
I introduced a handful of new sight words (or snap words as we call them). The kids noticed the tricky parts of each word. During writing workshop, I read a poem and asked them to share what they noticed. Their findings were integrated into the modeled writing that followed. After the shared reading of a big book, I showed them some words that I pulled from the story and asked what they noticed. They happened to be compound words. Of course, they noticed that. When I met with students about their individualized spelling words, I repeatedly asked, "What do you notice?" During our math warm up, as the students were counting by tens starting with a number other than ten, I was recording the numbers. They had a chance to share what they noticed about the numbers.
I've a feeling I left something out. It's such a natural part of the day that I didn't even know I was asking it as much as I do until I purposefully looked for it. It's true what Debbie Miller says. Our kids know more than they think they do. Given the opportunity and expectation, they'll notice. They just need to be asked.