Peer Editing Process

We are establishing our peer editing process in which we sit in a circle, pass our Writing Journals to each other, and identify strengths in what we are reading from colleagues. This is a strategy first introduced to me by Kitty Gillette, a 4th grade teacher at Westergard Elementary, and it has proven to be a great way of building classroom community. Moreover, it helps everyone become better writers.

Keep It or Junk It–A Discussion Strategy

Today the students used the strategy “Keep It or Junk It” to help us get ready for Kids Court and our Mock Trial. The Keep It or Junk It strategy has students working in small groups to identify key vocabulary from a text. This is followed by students working as a class to negotiate what the key vocabulary is and why. Words that are important are kept while words that are not, are junked.

The list of words will be used for writing an argumentative essay.


Using Philosophical Chairs to Debate in Room360

Students got to engage in Philosophical Chairs today. They had to position themselves on a “Philosophical Spectrum” to express if they agreed, disagreed or were neutral on the topic of whether having classroom pets was more positive than negative. Students then took the hot seat to share their claims and the evidence, from middle school texts, they had collected to support their claims. Throughout the experience, students were encouraged to move as their opinion changed based on what their peers were sharing.

The students proved quite adept at the technique and we will be doing this again while we are studying American history.

Our Exploration of the Maya

We are one week into our exploration of the Maya and ancient civilizations in Mesoamerica. Our big question is how geography effects culture and we are sifting through some challenging material, collecting ideas and information, to answer this question. The use of the parenthetical will become key as we start supporting claims with evidence and appropriate reasoning. (And look, no uniforms, picture day!)

Room360’s First Structured Academic Controversy

Today we completed our first Structured Academic Controversy (SAC). Students read two articles about lunch policies in which some districts are requiring all children to eat meals prepared by the schools. Some students had to support the claim that children should be able to bring their own lunches while others had to argue the opposite.

This was an opportunity for students to learn to how to appropriately argue and consider perspective taking. In this case, students did not initially know which side they would take and had to prepare for both stances.