Monday, February 16, 2015

Moving and Shaking

Recently we embarked on my favorite unit in our 5th grade Social Studies curriculum - Prosperity and Great Depression.  Truth be told, every unit is my favorite, with the exception of Westward Expansion. Part of our study of the Roaring 20s includes the Great Migration and the Harlem Renaissance. The timing of our study could not have been more perfect.  We began the Great Migration when Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was on the calendar and the Harlem Renaissance when Black History month began.  I completely enjoy this unit because I get to focus on some of my favorites - the history of baseball, flappers and Prohibition, and art/music/literature from the 20s.  My favorite poet of all time is Langston Hughes and I take every opportunity to share him with my students whether it is Black History Month or not.

I'm not a sit and get type of teacher on most days and I don't use our textbooks, unless I am resource poor because it doesn't meet our standards. BUT, sometimes there is still a need for students to gather the background information on a time period.

Enter Movers and Shakers....

One of my goals this year was to provide structured conversation throughout my lessons that allowed students to make decisions about their learning.  This activity did just that.

*Before beginning, choose a text for students to focus on for the lesson.  We were studying the Harlem Renaissance, so I chose a text that summarized the entire era.  Students were given 5:00 to read as much as they were able. Some were able to read the entire text, while others were only able to get half way through.


Once students read the article, I provided 5 minutes to write the top 3 ideas they felt were most important in the text.  This allowed me to see if they were able to grab the main idea of the text.

  Once all students in the group had written their 3 ideas, each person shared all 3 with their group.  We have a standard "who goes first" procedure in our classroom - the person with the shortest hair in the group always goes first.  After every person had shared, the group then discussed what the MOST important idea of the entire text was.  This could be an idea off of someone's paper or a combination of everyone's idea.

Once deciding on the most important/main idea of the text, the group worked together to justify their thinking.  All students were responsible for writing this information down in order to move to the next portion.


The group decided on a MOVER and a SHAKER to share the group ideas.  Movers took their paper and rotated to another group to share their thinking.  The Shaker stayed behind and shared the thinking with the mover who would arrive.  We did this rotation 3 times.  This resulted in students hearing the main idea of the Harlem Renaissance at least 7 times.


At the end of the lesson, I had the movers share their thinking one more time.


The kids LOVED this activity and have begged for it multiple times.  Since then we've used this discussion protocol in math as well.  Instead of looking for the main idea, students wrote 3 equations for word problems, chose the most efficient one to solve, and then justified how it was the best choice.

I've added this to my stash of good ideas to use each year.  With the excitement that my kids had and the results on the quiz (80% scored 80% or better!), it is definitely a keeper!

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