Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Encouraging Students to Think: WGOITP?

I have had the distinct pleasure of working with an outstanding teacher at ISG Jubail. Mrs. Natalie Bahen teaches grade 6 and grade 8 English at ISG Jubail. She is an innovative teacher who is always looking to improve her craft. Every week she has her students participate in an activity entitled, “What's Going On In This Picture?” She first learned about this activity on the New York Times Learning Blog site. She has adopted this activity to encourage students to think outside the box. She starts the activity by showing her students a picture. Students are then instructed to list and explain everything they see. Then students are asked to use what they see to defend what they think is going on in the picture.
Next, students gather in groups to discuss their ideas and predictions. Mrs. Bahen uses multiple strategies to group her students. An example of how Mrs. Bahen uses various grouping techniques includes having students sort themselves by alphabetical order, based on a unique category, such as favorite food or last location they have traveled to. Mrs. Bahen was able to see that students were engaged in the activity, but they lacked the high-level discussions needed to make it an authentic learning experience. She developed a list of sentence starters which helped the students engage in more productive and emotionally charged discussions. After using the sentence starters, Mrs. Bahen saw that students were able to access higher levels of academic language in both their speaking and writing. As a follow up to the lesson, the "big reveal" takes place and students get to find out what was actually happening in the picture. “What's Going On In This Picture?” pushes students to be risk takers. It allows students to use analytical and evaluative skills to draw conclusions and form an opinion. Students are given the opportunity to make their thinking visible. “What's Going On In This Picture?” teaches Mrs. Bahen’s students that the process of thinking is more important than always getting the answer correct.

Thank you, Mrs. Bahen for challenging our kids to think for themselves!

New York Times Learning Network Blog (2017, May 22). What’s Going On In This Picture? Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/column/learning-whats-going-on-in-this-picture.

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