A blog series: Part 2 of 7
Standard 2: Knowledge of Content and Instructional Planning
In the last OCM-RC Blog we looked at the connection with NYS Teaching Standard 1, the knowledge of students and student learning with the Responsive Classroom® approach. In this second blog of seven we will focus those same connections with Responsive Classroom on standard 2: The Knowledge of Content and Instructional practices.
A Responsive Classroom teachers pay special attention to the content they teach and purposefully plan their instruction so that learning is engaging to their students. They take great care to scaffold the skills and knowledge needed by their students and design differentiated learning experiences for them. When a teacher knows their content well, they can take their instruction to multifaceted levels (ST 2.1).
Through the use of open-ended questioning and reflection on learning, Responsive Classroom teacher establish a classroom that fosters a culture of inquiry. The use of the two Responsive Classroom teaching practices: Interactive Modeling and Guided Discovery, teachers engage student in critical and innovative thinking as they generate care and use of instructional materials. Responsive Classroom teachers also use collaborative problem-solving and class meetings to assist children to think critically and problem-solve social and academic issues that arise in their classroom. This establishes for children an environment where their thinking is valued and expected throughout the day of social and academic learning (ST 2.2).
Link to book: Interactive Modeling
When they plan lessons, Responsive Classroom teachers use many active and interactive learning strategies to engage the minds of the learners and differentiate to meet the academic and developmental needs of their students. During the Responsive Classroom training teachers learn many instructional strategies such as expert/jigsaw, gallery walks, swap meets, “Say Something”, inside-outside circles, 3-2-1 reflections and many more to implement in their classroom instruction. Responsive Classroom teachers purposely plan their Morning Meetings and Closing Circles (Responsive Classroom teaching practices) to get students active and reflective in their learning. They may ask a reflective question or activate prior knowledge using their Morning Message or focus a greeting, share or activity on a learning goal to allow the children to practice skills or knowledge needed in a specific content area. The Northeast Foundation for Children (developers of the Responsive Classroom approach) have 2 Morning Meeting books specifically designed to help teachers plan purposeful morning meetings that are standards based and active (ST 2.3, 2.4 & 2.5).
Responsive Classroom teachers start goal setting with their student during the first week of school. They use Hope & Dreams as a way to articulate individual learning goals. Rules for the classroom are then generated to develop a classroom where everyone can learn and where everyone’s goals can come true. At the end of the day, Responsive Classroom teachers use Closing Circles to reflect on the day’s learning and to goal set for the next day. This also establishes a nice closing for the learning day and a final formative assessment for teachers in regard to the learning goals set for the day (ST 2.4).
Link to Book: Closing Circles
Through the integrated use of the Responsive Classroom practices, teachers begin to learn about their students individually, developmentally and culturally (Standard 1). They learn that how children learn is as important as what they learn. They are fully aware for the need of multiple pathways of achievement and make it a point to connect students’ prior knowledge and experiences to new learning. The most powerful way teachers do this is through the use of the Responsive Classroom practice, Academic Choice. This practice encompasses all the elements of the NYS Teacher Standard 2! In this practice, learners have many opportunities to make choices in their learning. They might make the choice of the “what” (content) or the “how” (process) or both during a purposely designed academic choice experience. During academic choice, children experience the natural learning cycle. They generate ideas & goals, they actively explore, experiment, and problem-solve and they conclude their learning with reflection and representing of their learning. In a well-designed academic choice, teachers lead their learners through the 3 phases of academic choice: planning, working and reflecting. Children can individually demonstrate their knowledge and/or skills of a specific learning target or can collaborate with others as they learn together. Teachers can use academic choice to allow their students to practice a new skill, to learn something new, to review or expand on learning, and/or to culminate or assess learning. Through the use of academic choice, student learn how to make choices in their learning, to collaborate, to work independently, to communicate their learning effectively, to think creatively and critically, to represent their learning through multiple pathways and to take learning to levels that match their individual styles and needs. Teachers can plan an academic choice around a single topic or content area, but also could design an academic choice that is multi-disciplinary or multi-content focused (ST 2.1 – 2.6).
Link to books: Learning Through Academic Choice
The knowledge of content and instructional planning is so important to develop engaging learning experiences for children. A teacher needs to pay special attention to the standards and where his/her class is in regard to the knowledge and skills of those standards. Strategic scaffolding of the knowledge and skills is needed as we assist children to become more independent in their learning and self-directed. The integrated use of the Responsive Classroom practices establishes a positive learning community where children can take risks in their learning. A learning environment where there is effective and proactive management to set the stage for engaging academics. I have always told people that the Responsive Classroom practices ARE the delivery mechanisms of your highly engaging instruction.
Certified Responsive Classroom® trainer through the Northeast Foundation for Children, developers of the Responsive Classroom
Staff Development Specialist – OCM BOCES – Syracuse, NY
(OCM BOCES is a licensed agency for Responsive Classroom training by the Northeast Foundation for Children, developers of the Responsive Classroom)