For the past six weeks, we have been reading with a pen, or annotating text. The work students were turning in was not what I thought I would or should be seeing from 6th graders, and I could not figure out why.
I began reflecting on how I taught this strategy to them. I have always tried to incorporate the "I do, we do, you do," part of the gradual release of responsibility model. Wondering if maybe I didn't do enough of the modeling before hand, I decided to try it again on Monday. I modeled exactly what the strategy entailed. We annotated together, sharing and displaying questions and comments from students. Then, I sent them off to complete the assignment.
As they began getting out their assignment on Friday, I heard them talking about the article and saw what they had done. I was thrilled with what I saw. I put them into small groups to discuss the article, and I could immediately tell a difference in their discussions. After we came together for the whole group wrap-up discussion, I asked them how they thought it went. Hearing positive comments, I asked what made this week so different. Every class said it was Monday's lesson, explicitly showing them what was expected that made the difference. I learned that the first time I taught the lesson, I used the "here is how it is done, now go do it" approach -- one I know does not work. I wanted to crawl into a hole and hide. I knew I had failed but knew it was a teachable moment.
That is when I said the F word. I apologized and admitted that I had failed to teach them how to do the strategy and what I expected from them.
Sometimes even when we know better, we still fail. But it is through failure that we learn the most. This is a lesson I won't soon forget.