The student centered classroom revolves around understanding that we learn more from each other than we could ever learn on our own.
Many students are surprised to hear that I am more excited when students get answers wrong than I am when they get them correct, especially during discussions and discovery time. My enthusiasm for incorrect answers often confuses students during the first month of school, until they realize how much emphasis we put into learning from each other in the classroom.
As a teacher, I relish in teachable moments and the best time to learn is when we do not understand a concept or when we have the wrong answer.
As part of the daily learning within my classroom, students are guided through the learning process by questions that drive them through the process of discovering why.
Simply, answering a question correctly is not good enough. Students need to prove they are right or convince the rest of the class to agree with their reasoning.
The core reasoning behind this method of learning is to stimulate critical thinking and allow students opportunities to learn from mistakes. The theory is that we learn more from the incorrect answer and proving why it is wrong than we merely learn from selecting the correct answer and moving on to the next question.
Here is an example transcript of how the whole class works through comprehension questions after reading a Newsela article. Together the students debate and discover evidence that supports their thoughts and ideas.
The Newsela article used for this lesson sample: German shepherd named Rumor wins Best in Show at Westminster dog show, by Associated Press, adapted by Newsela staff (1000 LL).
Step 1: Teacher assigns an article to the Newsela Class. The teacher has students open the article in their Newsela Binder using their personal technology device (teacher may use a printed copy). Newsela allows students and teachers to select Reading Level that it appropriate for the individual student or reading situation. During whole class guided reading use an appropriate instructional reading level for the class.
Step 2: Students open article from their Newsela Binder.
Step 3: Teacher read the article allowed while students follow along. Depending on grade level and goals of the lesson, students may annotate the text during reading or as instruction permits. After reading students, DO NOT answer the quiz questions independently. It is important to WAIT to enter answers for this whole class reading and inquiry lesson.
Student Volunteer read aloud Question One: Which sentence from the section “Always A Crowd Favorite” BEST describes how the audience reacted to Rumor’s victory at the Westminster dog show?
READ each answer aloud:
A The crowd favorite, Rumor came out flying into the final ring to fans whistling and calling her name.
B Moments later, as Boyles did post-show interviews, Rumor spotted him and ran toward the man who guided her to victory.
C The moment any German shepherd steps into the ring at the Garden, the crowd goes crazy.
D Some say it’s because rooting for a German shepherd is the same as putting on a New York police department or fire department hat.
TEACHER: What answer do you think is best?
STUDENT VOLUNTEER: A The crowd favorite, Rumor came out flying into the final ring to fans whistling and calling her name.
TEACHER: Why is this answer correct?
STUDENT VOLUNTEER: This answer is correct because [student justifies answer]
TEACHER: (asks class) does anyone disagree? Does anyone think another answer could be better?
STUDENT A: I think a better answer would be C the moment any German shepherd steps into the ring at the Garden, the crowd goes crazy.
TEACHER: Why do you think that C answers the question about how the audience reacted to Rumor’s victory at the Westminster dog show better than answer A?
STUDENT A: [student justifies answer]
TEACHER: (to class) thumbs up if you think A is the correct answer. Thumbs down if you think C is the correct answer. Thumbs sideways if you think it is another answer.
TEACHER: Continue to foster discussion and encourage students to engage in academic discourse. Use questioning to help students justify why they think the answer is correct. Continue to take a thumb poll throughout discussion until the majority are selecting the same answer. Go back to the original STUDENT VOLUNTEER and STUDENT A to see if original stance has changed. (REPEAT process for each question).
When first learning how to discuss and support thoughts and ideas with evidence it is important to give the students the correct answer. Giving students the correct answer and discussing why the answers are correct or incorrect is essential to developing critical thinking skills.
TWO Options for continuing:
- Once the majority of the class has come to a consensus, have students enter the answer into Newsela Quiz. After everyone has entered the class choice select submit, then give students the correct answer and have discussion
- Provide the answer first and then have students enter the correct answer into the Newsela Quiz. This provides everyone an opportunity to have a perfect reading score during whole class guided reading time.
NOTE: when using Newsela as a whole class instruction tool, it is best practice to have a separate class code for guided reading articles. This allows teachers to keep the guided reading scores separate from individual scores when tracking individual growth and progress.