Well, after four days of watching our two exceptional Project GLAD trainers from California teach a first grade class using the strategies, I am ready to go back into the regular classroom so I can teach thematic units again. Not really, but it was so energizing to watch their whole process unfold over the past four days. On Monday, this class of 23 students, who are approximately one third LEP, were shy and not quite sure what to expect from these new teachers and about thirty observers in the back of the room. However, by Tuesday they were amazingly familiar with the routine in place and highly engaged.
One of the strategies I loved was the use of a signal word for all transitions from one activity to the next. The signal word is the word introduced on the Cognitive Content Dictionary (CCD), a new word being taught. Our word was "classify" with the hand motion to make a group repeated three times. So, every time Ms. Chavez would say "classify" the students would say group, group, group using the hand motion. I have often used signal words before and seen other teachers use them, but our words have always been silly words like popcorn or peanut. By using a signal word from the CCD you are building language since some students need to hear new information many times before mastery. The hand gesture made it more kinesthetic, as well. Mrs. Hernandez, the other trainer, recommended we download the app for American Sign Language to create more authentic gestures.
Another aspect of this strategy was to have the students predict what they thought the word "classify" might mean with their table team. They were instructed to put their heads together to collaborate. After each teams prediction was noted on the CCD chart Ms. Chavez moved on to another strategy. After teaching a unit on reptiles which included a lot about the word classify over the next several days they returned to the CCD to determine the final meaning of the word. Again, the students were instructed to put the heads together to collaborate the final meaning. Once the final meaning was determined, Ms. Chavez noted it on the chart. Finally, she gave an example of how to use the word in a sentence. Students were then instructed to put their heads together to collaborate about their own sentence using this word before sharing out once again.
There are so many other strategies I plan to put into practice as soon as I can figure out how to incorporate them into the Guided Reading groups and Leveled Literacy Intervention groups I am now working with. I recommend this training to all teachers who want to learn a multitude of best practices strategies that offer differentiation, scaffolds, increased metacognition, intentional language focus, as well as a writers' workshop demonstration like I have never witnessed before.
Thanks for reading my post!