A Peek Inside the Classroom: Mrs. Lirette
It’s a Monday morning in Mrs. Lirette’s fourth grade class at Conant. The students are getting ready for reading! “Grab your narrative nonfiction books, your notebook, and a pencil,” says Mrs. Lirette. “Come sit by your partner on the rug.” Mrs. Lirette uses a slideshow to review a previous lesson on determining a book's theme. Today’s objective is to bring everything the students have learned about the theme and apply that knowledge to narrative text.
Mrs. Lirette leads the class in a brief review of how to find themes in a fiction book. The class is then given the opportunity to determine the theme of a new fiction book by sharing ideas with their partner. The room goes from silent to quiet chatter as students begin talking with their partners. Mrs. Lirette rotates among the groups listening to student responses and offering feedback.
An “all set, you bet” choral response quiets and gains the attention of the students. The objective is extended as Mrs. Lirette explains that lessons can be learned from narrative nonfiction books. She asks for volunteers to individually share a lesson they learned from the book, Whoosh. After two students share, Mrs. Lirette asks for students to double tap their heads if they agree. This non verbal response provides Mrs. Lirette a quick assessment on students’ thoughts and gives her the ability to provide prompt feedback. The students again turn to their partner to discuss other lessons that can be learned from the book. Many of the students who did not raise their hands begin their partner chat first. Partner chats are helpful for those students who don’t like to share their thoughts in a whole group setting.
Next, the class focuses on independent work. Today’s independent work goal is to answer the question, “What lessons are they learning that I can learn too?” Students write this question in their notebooks, return to their seats, and open their chosen narrative nonfiction book. Mrs. Lirette once again rotates among students, asking and answering questions, and clarifying the assignment. As students begin swapping books, which signals that they have completed the assignment, Mrs. Lirette says, “Place your hands on your shoulders if you found one lesson or place your hands on your head if you found more than two lessons.” Based on the student responses, Mrs. Lirette moves on to the last task, identifying the author's perspective.
As the lesson comes to a close and students are told to put their things away, it is apparent that all students have had the opportunity to participate in today's lesson. Whether it be independently, as a partner, verbally, or non-verbally, the choice is theirs to make!