Informational UoS Continues…

The following is a conversation that Jill and I had as we went through reflection & planning for her third grade class. We are leaning into the work of Dr. Mary Howard’s Good to Great Teaching.  If you’re interested in learning more please feel free to stop by during a weekly Twitter Chat #G2Great on Thursday nights at 8:30 PM EST that I co-moderate with Amy Brennan, our Twitter handles are: @hayhurst3 and @brennanamy Jill participates weekly as well her Twitter handle is: @JillDerosa.  

 So, the kids did their presentations & were videotaped, how’d it go?  

It went really well – they took on the roles, felt like experts and the others can’t wait to watch each other.  We are going to have students tweet about their thoughts IMG_0239(self reflection & evaluation) about the presentations as they view them and then share their Twitter Books so they are passed from one student to another for responses to occur – using a heading for the demonstration.  Each child gets back their book and selects the most helpful Tweet about their own presentation and tells why it was so helpful. This is an excellent way for children to reflect and then revise for their next presentation.

Zoom In

What’s one thing to focus on?  We had to prompt in  and had to scaffold the actual presentation – it was hard for theIMG_0265m to organize the presentation – this is true for their writing too. It’s hard for them to organize their ideas in a written presentation or an oral presentation. I like giving them the freedom to take this project on as their own and really be in charge of planning. However, we need to find a framework that will help organize this but still allow for their own creative input.


What did you notice? They didn’t know who was going to talk first and they needed a specific framework – it was unique to each group. Some groups plannedIMG_0236  presentations that were unrealistic and impossible to do.  Others had difficulty deciding on the specific items to present, they loved everything.  Still others just wanted to do artistic displays and forgot about the information part.  Looked a lot to me like real life, a good place to teach into collaboration, accountability and responsibility.


It was good work and the reason is because it was self directed and they were able to work independently in the group and they created something that was meaningful to them. They were able to envision what this was like in a job.  It wasn’t great because it was the first time and we need to find an organization that IMG_0254works better for both the teacher and the students.


It’s still at the beginning phases and needs tweaking.


What will we change? Specifically –  a choice of structure Q&A format  I feel like if we made something set it would not work-each group needed something different. Go back to the organization – how can we help them organize? I don’t always want to give them each step each one went a different way – but maybe having three guiding questions…

Jenn – Let’s check MIll’s book – Pg 50 Learning for Real – she is suggesting just this posing guiding questions and gives some nice examples. IMG_0245You’re saying that we should have student do this work so that the inquiry is more authentic – how is this different than Q&A? I am thinking MIlls is saying that these guiding questions are a springboard (kind of)  to focus the inquiry and that eventually these kinds of questioning techniques become internalized.  Jill look at this one I think she’s addressing your concerns here: Video Clip 3 with Transcript: Students Reflect on Nonfiction Text Structures and Features, Grade 4

Jill – I think that it’s not organization it’s that they (students) don’t know the process of inquiry. Kind of like with Literature Circles – we gave them the process that the kids could use – that’s what we need.   Some of  their guiding questions were not going to get them to explore the topic.  They were  more interested in making an engaging presentation that was light on content.  Link the primary and secondary sources to guided questions that link the content to the presentation that’s going to add more content.


We have to create a visual board – an icon a flowchart for them to follow. When we have kids evaluate and respond using Twitter books they will “discover” that they didn’t really teach a lot of content.   Take a look at this let me know if it’s what you wanted, if not no worries we’ll figure it out:

Basically, we want to hit these concerns (strengthen guiding questions, scaffold organization, linking content through primary / secondary sources). Here are  habits of mind that we want to grow, and the instructional techniques we will use to this work:

  • Structure a minilesson with 3-4 choices so that students can select a method to organize  their time/logistics.
  • Sentence stems that help to cite the author and the title linking content
  • Using mentor texts (digital or print) to try out a form of writing / presenting

Hey we’d love to hear from you – if you have any questions or ideas please give us a shout and we will write you back: