Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Critical Thinking from the Start of the Year with a FREEBIE

Knowing that I am going to have a room full of not only gifted children but highly gifted children this year has really got me thinking about how I am going to challenge them from the start. It's what made me decide it would be a good idea to have a Teaching Strategies Linky Party starting this Saturday.

So, as I was planning with my team, we had some great ideas that showed me how we could take what we would normally do to another level for these kids. There won't be any back to school about me books happening in my classroom. (Not that there is anything wrong with that for most classrooms, it just would bore these kids I'm going to have to tears.) The "about me" activities they will do will require them to look at it from different perspectives. I have so many ideas swarming that it kept me up the last two nights. My sweet husband waited for me to jot them all down. My "it will only take 20 minutes" somehow turned into about an hour. The time flew by to me, though!

I've started working on my Back to School Unit. I'm tempted to call it "Not Your Normal Back to School Unit" because everything in it will encourage deeper thinking and share ideas for differentiation. I figure that if this is the kind of thing we want from our kids all year, why not start off that way?

One thing I just couldn't wait to share with you is a strategy called RAFT. It's been around a while, and it's nothing I came up with by any means. I originally learned about it when I had my 30 hours of GT training. Read Write Think does a great job of explaining it. They do say that it is for grades 5-12, but I see no reason why I can't do it with my 1st and 2nd graders next year. They just might need a partner to work with.

It's basically a strategy for showing understanding of a concept by looking at it from an unusual perspective. 
The R stands for role. Who are you writing as? 
The A stands for audience. Who are you writing to?
The F stands for format. How are you going to present this? iMovie? Story? Letter? Comic?
The T stands for topic. What are you writing about?

So to present this to kids, you may give them some kind of a chart like this:

From there, they can choose how they want to show you what they know. 

I'm going to introduce it at the beginning of the year as we talk about how we are feeling about school. Some of them may be excited, sad, unsure, etc. We are going to compare those feelings to how inanimate objects might feel. For example, they may choose to be an eraser talking to a pencil about school starting tomorrow. You can probably imagine that the eraser complaining about how they are going to have to work now because of all the mistakes the pencil makes. I love how creative the students can get with this!

If you want to download the PDF version of my RAFT freebie up there, you can grab it here:

Beg of the Year RAFT

If you like this type of thing for the beginning of the year, then you will love my "Not Your Normal Back to School Unit" when I'm done. Can't wait to share it all with you!

By the way, this simple strategy is the kind of thing you could blog about and share at my Teaching Strategies linky parting starting this Saturday. Hope you will create a post to link up!
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The Daily Alphabet said...

I like your idea of starting the year off already differentiating activities!!

The Daily Alphabet

Carla Hutchins said...

I can't wait to see your unit!!

Unknown said...

This is awesome! I can't wait to try it out! It's never too early to start some good thinking! Can't wait to see how your unit turns out.

Miss Trayers said...

I also think it's a great way to start off the school year. I've never seen RAFT used for the perspective of school supplies-a very creative idea! :) I think the kiddos will have a blast with it and you'll be able to see what level of critical thinking they are starting with.


Garden Full of Knowledge said...

This is truly amazing! You are so right in your thoughts! I love what you have created! Thank you so much!