Why I Chose this Strategy
I had two specific purposes in choosing this strategy. First, there are a handful of students that always respond, a handful of students that never respond and a group in the middle that respond sometimes. I wanted to use this strategy to promote the large group interaction of the two groups that either don’t respond or sometimes respond. I want to know what these students are thinking and what they can contribute. Second, I chose this strategy for me. At times, when I am teaching, I think I want to move the lesson rapidly rather than thoroughly. I wanted to take the opportunity to put to into research my findings and compare them to the research we’ve been studying in our methods classes. This strategy makes good sense to me. I also felt like it was something I could implement well with some forethought and planning.
Nature of and Result Prediction
The nature of this activity involves allowing for a period of silence given to students to think through answers to questions asked in class discussions. It is important because all students need time to sort out the meaning of the question and process the content required to answer it. Wait time is an essential tool for all students but exceptionally useful for English Language Learners (ELL). ELL students have an additional layer of thought process, that of second language. My prediction was that I would have greater success in connecting all students with the content learning, increase student to student and student to teacher conversation, and encourage discourse from all students.
The classroom environment consisted of the entire class of students at their desks, in table grouping and inside the classroom. This lesson was taught in the morning from 10:45 to 11:55, just after their morning recess.
Student grouping consisted of 21 students all sitting at tables of four to five students each. The table groups are structured in mixed ability groupings, mixed gender, and mixed ELL students. I only used this strategy during whole group instruction during this lesson.
This strategy worked as I had planned. I was able to make a conscious choice and wait for most of the students to raise their hands before calling on anyone. I would use phrases like, “I can see that most of the students at table one have an idea…”. As I kept using encouraging phrases like this one, more hands would rise until most if not all hands were up, and I would finally call on someone.
Results of Activity
This strategy worked like I hoped it would. Many of the students that don’t normally raise their hands were raising their hands and contributing. The discourse had more participants than when wait time is diminished. I felt like the students that are not normally called on were more validated through sharing their thoughts and it strengthened their ability to speak out loud and share their thinking. Overall, the students were more engaged and I think this is partially because of this strategy. There were still two students that did not participate to the level I had hoped. However, with more practice, I believe this would also change for the better.
Reflecting back on the effectiveness of this strategy is a great learning process for me. I think the students need more exposure to this discourse strategy so they can build their confidence in speaking about their thoughts and learning process. I want more practice at using this strategy interfaced with knowing how to use better talk and argument with the students. I think that increased wait time is the primary step to improved talk and argument discourse which will promote deeper learning. I liked using this strategy and I will incorporate it into all my lessons in the future.