RA Routines: Golden Lines

Golden Lines is a routine that asks students to note or highlight “golden lines”—lines or short passages from a text that are particularly meaningful to the student for some reason.  This is a protocol you can use with any text you want students to read.

What it’s good for:
Creating a low-risk way for all students to access to text and participate in activities
Focusing attention on crucial parts of a text
Making personal connections to a text
Assessing students’ interests and understanding
Looking for patterns/tendencies in a class as a whole

STEP ONE:  Set a focus for reading
Participation structure:

It’s important for students to know what they should be highlighting.  The focus you set depends upon your reasons for asking students to read the text.

Some possibilities for highlighting:

  • Anything that seems particularly important (for whatever reason the student chooses)
  • Anything that seems particularly important to know/understand about _____________
  • Anything that you don’t understand (or don’t understand about ____________)
  • Anything that you really disagree with

Possible supports:

  • Let students know how they might/should be reading (quick-read, careful read, etc.).
  • Let students know how much time they’ll have to read.

STEP TWO:  Students read
Participation Structure:

Be sure to have some way for students to mark their Golden Lines.  If it’s a text they can write on, highlighters can be helpful.  If they can’t write on the text, some kind of note-taking sheet will work.  You might also use sticky notes.

STEP THREE:  Sharing
Participation Structure: 
Varies; you can use pairs, small groups, or whole-group sharing

You’ll want some way of knowing what students chose as their golden lines.  If you do whole-group sharing, consider ways of making sure that you hear varied voices/perspectives.  You might use Whip Around, numbered sticks, or some other method of making sure you hear from many students in a quick time.

You’ll probably want students to share what they highlighted and then explain why they highlighted it.

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RA Routines: Give One, Get One

This is a protocol you can use before reading or discussing texts.

What it’s good for:
Assessing students’ existing schema/knowledge of a topic
Building and accessing schema before reading
Supporting readers in accessing challenging text
Supporting readers to participate in large-group discussions
Building relationships between students

STEP ONE:  Prepare for Activity
Participation structure:

Ask students to take out a sheet of paper (or provide a sheet of paper) and ask them to fold it in half lengthwise.  (The “hot dog” way)

At the top of the left side of the sheet, have students write Give One.

At the top of the right side of the sheet, have students write Get One.

If this is not a well-established routine, take time to teach/review your norms for the activity.

STEP TWO:  Students list what they know
Participation Structure:

Ask students to list facts they know about the topic they will be reading/learning about.  Direct them to list the facts in the left-side column of their sheet.

STEP THREE:  Students Give One/Get One
Participation Structure: 

Determine the amount of time you want students to confer and share their facts.

Students circulate, sharing facts from the left side of their sheet, and writing down facts on the right side.

Exchange only one fact with each person you talk to.

Write the other person’s facts on your sheet, even if you’re not sure it’s accurate.

Say “thank you” when the other person shares a fact with you.

Yeah, but…
What if students pass on misinformation?
  Give One/Get One is a great way to bring those misconceptions to the surface, where they can be addressed.  If students have conflicting information, that can help them formulate questions to explore.  It’s important to embed Give One/Get One into other routines/activities that will ensure students get the right information.

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RA Routines: Gallery Walk

This sheet will describe one way to implement Gallery Walk with a text, but it is a general instructional strategy than can be modified and adapted in a variety of ways.

What it’s good for:
Assessing students’ understanding of a text
Supporting readers in accessing challenging text
Supporting readers to participate in discussions
Building relationships between students

STEP ONE:  Reading the text
Participation structure:

With text, Gallery Walk is often used to have students closely read a small section of a particularly important (or challenging) larger text.  To prepare for the activity, students will need to read an assigned portion of the text you’ll be working with.

Because students will be conferring with others, you’ll probably want to ask them to record their understanding of the text in some way.  You might use a 2-column note-taker, a graphic organizer, or some other tool.

STEP TWO:  Small groups create a poster to represent their understanding of the text
Participation Structure:
  Small group

Small groups of students who read the same portion of the text meet to create a poster that conveys the most important information from their section of the text.  This poster will be posted so that other students can read it.

STEP THREE:  Gallery Walk
Participation Structure: 

In the same small groups, students walk around the room, visiting each poster.  At the poster, the small group has a focused discussion about it (with questions or prompts provided by the teacher) and/or responds to the poster in writing.  The group’s response is left on the poster for other groups to view.

The teacher directs movement from one poster to another, so that only one group is at each poster at one time.

STEP FOUR:  Review original poster
Participation Structure: 
Small group

Groups return to their original poster to see how other groups responded to it.

STEP FIVE:  Assessment
Participation Structure:

Provide some kind of individual assessment to determine each student’s understanding of the whole text.

You can find more information on Gallery Walk (including instructions, assessment, and dealing with challenges) here:  http://serc.carleton.edu/introgeo/gallerywalk/how.html

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RA Routines Sheet: Two- and Three-Column Note-taker

Column note-takers are a tool more than a routine, but a note-taker is something that can be incorporated into many routines.  Any time students are reading, they can use column note-takers to record what they are finding important in a text, and what they think about it.

What it’s good for:
Focusing talk on the text
Supporting metacognitive conversation
Close reading
Developing skills for supporting ideas with textual evidence
Bringing reading strategies to the surface/making thinking visible for students

How it Works
You can either create a note-taker for students to use, or ask them to create their own on notebook paper.  The idea is simple:

  • Divide your note-taker into two columns.
  • The left column is for recording things students observe in the text.
  • The right column is for recording what students think about what they’ve observed.

Some teachers add a third column, on order to help students take their thinking to a deeper level.

What Goes on the Note-taker
Note-takers can be very open-ended, or they can be targeted to specific content and skills.

It can be as simple as this:

When I read…. I understood/thought/wondered….

If you want to work on specific kinds of knowledge or skills, you can change the text at the top of the columns.  For example, if you’re focusing on making connections, your note-taker might look like this:

When I read…. I made a connection to…

If you want students to notice something particular in the text, you can indicate that with your directions or with your headings in the left column:

When I saw this example of figurative language… It made me think…

A three-column note-taker can support students in analyzing their thinking/reading:

When I saw… I made a connection to… This helped me understand…

Options for Using
You can use note-takers in all kinds of ways.  Here are some options to get you thinking about how they might work for you:

  • Non-traditional text:  You can use a column note-taker to help students process their understanding of a video, an image, or even a math problem.
  • Vary the focus for different students:  You might ask some students to focus their observations on one character (for fiction) or person (for a history text) and ask other students to focus on another.  Then, have students meet for pair talk with someone who read for a different focus.
  • Ask students to read for different purposes:  Have some students read a text to find information to support a particular stance/action, and then have them (or other students) read to find information that supports the opposite stance/action.

Setting Norms
Consider setting a minimum number of entries on a sheet.

Consider how you want students to record their observations of the text:  Direct quotations?  Summaries?  Do you want them to include a page number?

Consider how often you want them to record notes:  After a certain number of pages/paragraphs (or minutes if watching video)?

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Seeking feedback for next RA training

This post is targeted specifically to members of this year’s RA training cohort, but I’d also love feedback from those of you who participated last year or the year before.

During our first day of RA training last week, we focused on laying a foundation of knowledge about the 4 dimensions of an RA classroom.  Going into that day, I had a good idea of where I thought we’d need to go next, but as I listened to your conversations and questions, I began re-thinking that.

I’d like to suggest three possibilities for our next steps and get information from you about what you think would be most helpful for your learning. 

As you read these, please remember:  We will continue to talk about/experience all 4 dimensions each day of training.  None of these exists as separate entities from the other.  It’s just a question of what our primary focus will be. Continue reading

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Pair Sharing Ideas

One of the things we talked about in our September session on the social dimension is the importance of setting and teaching norms.  I saw a great example of this last week in CHS ELD teacher Kate Martin’s classroom, and I want to share with you what she’s been doing.

Continue reading

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What’s in a name?

Congratulations–we’ve finally started school and finished our first week! And to follow up on our work together last week on social dimension, I want to ask one question:

Do you know all of your students’ names yet?

If you do–yahoo for you!  If you’re thinking, Heck, no, Rita–how do you expect me to know nearly 200 names in three days!? I’ve got another question:

How are you going to learn all of their names quickly?  (As in, by the end of next week.)

Because, when we’re talking about the social dimension, I think one of the most important things you can do is learn the names of all your students as soon as you can.  Why? Continue reading

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