Explicit Teaching


As we start this school year, what are you planning to explicitly teach your students for a successful year of growth? How to line up for recess? Where to find materials in the classroom? How to move from their seats to the community area? I am guessing these and many more. When coaching teachers about the start of the school year, I encourage them to envision the school day and write down all the routines that they will need to be explicitly taught. Having attended several Responsive Classroom workshops, I have truly come to appreciate the idea of Modeling. Modeling expectations as well as routines makes the early part of the school year particularly more effective in setting up students for success in the school year.

So we explicitly teach/model a large number of things right as we start the school year. But an Instagram post I had saved made me think of things that we may think we are teaching but often do not. 

So as this post reminds us, we need to give our students, even our own children, the tools or ideas for “using their words.” Taking this idea to other things we expect students/children to know how to do, I made the following graphic.

Download it or make your own (https://bit.ly/listentoaclassmate).

This reminds me of a time when I was Principal at my former school. The 5th grade teacher thought it would be great to do a Rube Goldberg Expo as a way to wrap up the simple machines unit. This first Expo was not as easy as the teacher or I thought it would be. We learned a number of things that we applied to future expos. The main lesson learned by us was that students needed to be taught explicitly how to discuss ideas in a collaborative group. Further they needed to be explicitly taught how to disagree respectfully and come to a consensus about proceeding through the creation and trials of their Rube Goldbergs.

Responsive Classroom also talks about Role-Playing. This concept may more apply to explicitly teaching/demonstrating the ideas that have been modeled before. Role playing allows for a teacher/parent to use a real-life situation as the setting for the role playing. This way students can use the skills explicitly taught to practice those skills. One of the concepts that we often suggest to students is ‘go play with a classmate.’ What I have discovered is that some children do not now how to enter a game, or ask how a game is taught. The result is often the child disrupts the game and classmates get angry. When I sit down with the child and role play the actual words to use to ask to join a game or ask what the rules are for the game, the results are better. With time, both the child who needed to be explicitly taught and the classmates learn valuable social skills.

So take a second look at your list of routines, practices and daily events for your classroom. Which items have you not explicitly taught your students? 

Looking for some personalized PD for your school?  Maybe you want to study a topic, let’s discuss some a book study. Reach out and I would be happy to talk. Reach out via Instagram or Twitter (@edtechease) or Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/edtechease/) or email me, swladis@edtechease.com.

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