First-Grade Students use Step Inside and Tug of War Routines
Serena Stock, Teacher, Auburn Elementary
Avondale Public Schools (4.22.14)
Background Information: Auburn Elementary is a Title I school and is in its first year as an Avondale/Oakland University Partnership school. In this opening year, it has 80 school-of-choice students, several Oakland University students and a staff that is 50% new. The school is being designed from the ground up and the routines are being used to help facilitate the design process with staff, the community, the Board of Education and the students. CoT is a core foundational structure in the design of this partnership as participants work to build a culture where thinking is valued, honored and made visible.
Step Inside Routine: The purpose of this routine is to help students take the perspective of the character or in this case the animal they were each given. Step Inside provides a structure for taking thinking to a deeper level and finding connections to the topic being investigated. Students are asked to step outside the self and see things from the point of view and/or to understand the perspective of another.
Tug-of-War Routine: The purpose of this routine is to structure student thinking so they take a stance with sound reasoning. It is designed to help students understand the complex forces that “tug” at opposing sides of an issue. It encourages students initially to suspend taking a side and think carefully about the reasons in support of both sides of the dilemma/issue.
Lesson Goal: Extend student understanding of the connections between offspring and parents by focusing on how offspring resemble their parents.
Prior to tour lesson: In preparation for the lesson, Serena Stock found several pairs of pictures for matching parent animals and their offspring, e.g. Cat/kittens, pigs/piglets, lions/cubs, etc. These first grade students had used Step Inside and/or Tug of War prior to this lesson. This unit began with a focus on humans’ life cycle and offspring using the Chalk-Talk routine. Serena says: “I didn’t start with thinking routines initially. Instead I started with the development of my culture through changes in vocabulary and communication with my students. Cot is more than just using routines.”
During the lesson:
Lesson Introduction: Students were seated on the carpet as Ms. Stock introduced the lesson. She reminded them of their prior work on finding similarities between parents and children. Next she introduced the topic of animal parents and offspring and showed a sampling of the pictures. She explained that each of them would get a picture of either a parent animal or an offspring. Ms. Stock shared with the students that they would be doing a step inside thinking routine before playing the game. As the routine began, their task was to “step inside” and imagine being that animal parent or offspring and try to find each other/their family. For example, the student with the picture of the adult lion would try to find the lion cub and the cub would look for the lion. In order to consider themselves a match, they would have to identify how they were alike.
Lesson Execution: Serena Stock randomly distributed the pictures of a variety of animal parents and offspring. She reminded them that their task was to imagine being that animal parent or offspring and try to find each other/their family. She assured the students that she would give them plenty of time to study their picture first. After studying the pictures, she told students to move about and find their family. The students were highly engaged and moved about with purpose. After they found each other, students engaged in partner Think/Pair/Share to explain to each other why they belonged to the animal family. After partner sharing, a whole class discussion incurred. A sample of that discussion follows:
(T)Teacher: Step into your character/animal. How do you know that’s your parent or your offspring? How do you know you are related?
(S)Student responses: “We both have tails alike.” “We are the same color.” “We are the same animal.”
(T) See how this connects to using shape, size and colors? When you say you are the same animal, how do you know that? What makes you say they are the same?
(S) The offspring looks just like the grownup but they are not the same color or the same size. They are the same animal.
(T) We have figured out that the offspring looks like the parents, they have the same number of legs and kind of tails, but the one is just smaller than the other.
(T) Do all offspring look like their parents? Let’s use the Tug of War routine to see what the class thinks. (She draws a line on the chart and hands each student a sticky note.)
(T) Write on the sticky note what you think—Do all offspring look like their parents? Give your reasons for your answer. Then place your sticky note on the chart.
After the Lesson/Q&A with Serena Stock
All observers were impressed with the thinking and student engagement. They expressed appreciation to Serena for sharing her lesson and classroom for this purpose. The following is a summary of the discussion that followed:
Q: What will follow this lesson?
A: We are moving on to metamorphous, e.g. frogs/tadpoles and caterpillars/butterflies where the offspring do not look like the parents. We will have a fieldtrip to a dairy farm to make connections to the world beyond school.
Q: Which routines do you use the most?
A: I use See-Think-Wonder each week. We connect our theme to artwork or a holiday. Students can find things in pictures that I overlook. We write about these connections.
Q: How often do you use them?
A: I use some all the time like Think/Pair/Share and What makes you say that? I use some when they need more structure for thinking like Tug of War. Sometimes it just happens while you are in the process of teaching and learning.
Q: Is this your first year with the routines?
A: This is my third year. The first time a student says something that blows you away, you are hooked on using these routines. Students love the routines. My first year I picked 3-4 routines, See-Think-Wonder, Tug of War, Generate-Sort-Connect, and got to know them. These routines draw in all students and they want to listen to each other.
Please leave a comment or a question for Serena Stock and students.