To set this scene I need to tell you, there are six large tables in my room. I do not teach with desks. That said:
Monday in my classroom I modeled test taking strategies whole group. Tuesday in my classroom I modeled them again and had the kids work in groups of four or five. Today I modeled them again and instructed the students to work in pairs. They had a science passage to read and ten questions to answer. I told them that before they marked their answer sheet they had to highlight their support for that answer in the reading passage.
They went to work and I moved from pair to pair listening, prompting and/or redirecting. I had to repeat the directions in the first three groups I visited. Finally I asked for the class’ attention and snapped, “I am repeating the directions one more time. Pay attention. This is the same assignment we did yesterday and the day before. All of my teaching is just waisted breath if you aren’t going to listen.” Then I repeated the directions, sent them back to work and continued monitoring partners.
I stopped at one team where there seemed to be some tension. “What’s wrong?” I asked.
Jake replied, “Izzy says the answer is A and I say the answer is B.”
“Well,” I asked, “Can either of you prove your answer is true?”
“I can,” Jake said. “He pointed to a section in paragraph five which he had highlighted. “Right here it says that rain, hail and snow are forms of precipitation. That means the answer has to be B.”
I asked Izzy to defend his answer. Izzy mumbled that he couldn’t find his answer anywhere on the paper. I reminded them that they needed to check all the possible answers, directed them to continue and said I’d be right back.
I circled the room and checked on a few other groups, then returned to Jake and Izzy. “What did you decide?” I asked.
“Jake is right,” mumbled Izzy.
“Is that what you marked on your paper?” I asked because Izzy hadn’t marked anything at all.
“No,” he said. “I can’t remember where Jake said the answer was and he won’t tell me again.”
I tapped on Jake’s paper. “You two are partners. You help Izzy. Remember, you are both sharing the same grade.”
Jake grumbled okay, and scooted his paper over near Izzy’s. He pointed, said, “Right here in paragraph five it says ….” He started to read aloud and I turned toward the pair of students at the other end of the table. No sooner was my back turned then Jake, very peeved, said, “If you’re not going to highlight this, why am I wasting my breath?”
I had already made eye contact with Mona and we both heard Jake loud and clear. I know my face looked very startled. Apparently Mona read my thoughts because, with the tiniest smile on her face, she nodded her head ever so slightly and said, “He sounds just like you.”
Didn’t he, though? Sigh