The students in Wendler’s class all spoke rather articulately about their thinking. Although I imagine part of this is due to the fact that most (all?) of them are native speakers, I can’t help but wonder if better scaffolding on my part can help my students, too.
Already, I use some vocabulary walls that we build together during lessons in a unit,and I post these in subsequent lessons slides, as well as around the room. With some consistency, I also have the students copy new math words into their agendas for practice at home.
On the carpet, I have students practise sharing their thinking with a partner before they share with the rest of the class. (Think-Pair-Share).
But what else can I do to build my English Language Learners’ capabilities in this area?
Is it a thinking problem, or a communicating problem? I see even very bright students who “get the math” struggling with expressing themselves (these students are all English Language Learners). How can I help them?
Perhaps more scaffolding, for example, in the form of visual sentence starters, and fill in the blanks that students can refer to, would assist them as they explain their thinking?
It is definitely an area I need to explore further!
There is no “one right way” to debrief a good math lesson. As the research often shows in education, there are many paths.
In our reading about bansho, or even of math congress, students play a key role in explaining to their peers during the consolidation phase of a lesson. One challenge that both Dale and I have faced with this is our own effectiveness and efficiency in preparing for the debrief: We must carefully select which of our students present, and in what order they present. This leaves us little time for deeper interactions with specific students, or for jotting down meaningful anecdotals, as our entire time is then spent circulating and deciding who should present and why. (Or we do focus on assessment of a few students each time, but then our debrief is left more to chance, as we don’t really know what students will be sharing.)
Another problem is that many of the students simply do not listen to one another in a large group. Although I plan to work on this by having them practise paraphrasing and asking questions during the debrief, I still wonder how effective the often long, drawn out student sharing at the end of the lesson is. (In a true bansho, ALL solutions are shared, impossible in our classroom context!)
Wendler’s video showed us another way. After the students have had some time to work on the problem, he groups their responses (perhaps over recess or lunch?), which enables him to have much more jurisdiction over how the debrief goes when the class comes back to it.
Of course, sharing – or having students share -- a few “exemplars”, and then having other students cluster their work with the closest match encourages very high level thinking. But it also takes time, and time – as we know – is a constant struggle.
At the very least, Wendler’s method provides a once-in-a while alternative.
N.B. To see the original Wendler Bansho blog post, and accompanying video summarising his 3-Part-Lesson, click here!