Answering a GREAT question with the help of an Anchor!

This semester in READ 6310 Children’s and Adolescent Literature, students were asked to contribute a post to this blog.

By Maria D. Wiles

I recently attended a meeting in which the presenter was a district instructional coach. I enjoy attending these meetings because I always have an “AHA!” moment as a result of at least one item of discussion from these meetings. This particular meeting was focused on using questioning to raise the rigor in our classrooms.  There are many things that we as teachers know are effective but sometimes; we don’t give much thought as to why it is effective or how much effect that single strategy can have on a class full of students.

Our presenter brought up the fact that some teachers will say their reason for not asking higher order questions is because the students will not be able to answer. The presenter continued with a short activity. First, she showed us a video that although humorous, was also informational because it was a short clip about a teacher in a classroom discussing a book with students by asking open ended, high order questions. We were all engaged in the viewing of the video. Next, there was a slide up for viewing that had 4 pictures on it. Next, we were instructed to get out a “thinking sheet” that we had that had a “Synectics Four Box” with four fill in the blank such as “Coaching is like ___________ because _____________.” The instructions were that we could use either the video or the posted pictures to help us fill in the four items. When we finished, the presenter asked how many had used the pictures and how many had used the video to help them fill in the blanks.

A good majority (I couldn’t see every person) had used the pictures. The presenter then explained that students, like adults need a reminder somewhere for them to be able to remember concepts. She pointed out that we used the pictures because it was easier for us to reference and it helped us put our plan for answering into order. She explained that with the use of anchor charts in our classroom, students will be reminded of skills throughout the year and therefore, higher level questioning is possible and students will feel reassured knowing there is a guide to help them.

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Ask yourselves, how much do you actually remember from a regular day? Now, by Friday, how many details from your week do you remember? Your answer is probably the same as mine, “not very many”. Why do we remember phone numbers, addresses, and appointments? Because we have a constant reminder, these things are usually written down. So remember, anchor charts aren’t just time consuming to make and wall decorations, they really do help a student remember throughout the year what they have learned and assist them in being able to answer these higher level, thought provoking questions.

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