Here are some of the “tricks of the trade” that give students more ownership of the classroom and activates a lot of eager student involvement.
Print a copy of the K-W-L Model teaching poster to use at the beginning and end of every lesson.
- Click link: K-W-L MODEL poster
Overview of the K-W-L Model
The concept of the K-W-L Model was created by Donna M. Ogle in 1986. The K-W-L is an acronym for three key questions. You ask two of the questions at the beginning of the lesson. The K question asks “What do you KNOW about the given lesson topic?” The W question asks “What do you WANT TO KNOW about the given lesson topic?”
At the end of the lesson, the L question is asked. This question asks “What have you LEARNED about that given lesson topic?”
Volunteer student plays the role of teacher
Most students get great enjoyment of coming up to the front of the room, sitting in the teacher’s chair, and playing the role of ‘teacher’ as they read from the teacher manual to ask either the K question, the W question, or the L question.
The other class members enjoy the sense of playfulness as they raise their hands, waiting for the ‘teacher’ to select them to respond to one of those questions.
Van or Vanna White
Just as Vanna White reveals the letters on the long-running television game show called “Wheel of Fortune,” many students get a kick out of sitting beside the volunteer ‘teacher’ and modeling the K-W-L Model poster. If the volunteer model is a girl, we call her Vanna. If the volunteer model is a boy, we call him Van. He or she gets the K-W-L Model poster off the magnetic white board. He or she will point to either the K or the W or the L on the poster as the ‘teacher’ asks the correlating question.
You might want to consider buying a five-pound bag of Runts or Skittles or other type small candies from an outlet store such as Sam’s Club. If the student gets the answer correct to the K question or the L question or any of the Bloom’s Taxonomy discussion questions throughout the curriculum, they can opt to come up and pick out one piece of candy. If they don’t care for candy or can’t eat candy, you might also wish to have small stickers available. They can get one small sticker and place it on their shirt, their planner, their hand, etc.
W question does not qualify as a candy question
The W question of the K-W-L Model does not qualify as being a candy question – only the K or the L questions. The student playing the role of ‘teacher’ gets to choose who gets to answer these candy questions. The teacher should hold the cup of candy, monitoring that the student takes the first piece of candy he or she touches. The teacher should also monitor that only one piece of candy is selected.
More on the W question
Due to the fact that the W question is NOT a candy question, there are usually not takers to ask one of these questions. That is fine as it allows you to delve into the unit all the faster. On the few occasions when there is a student who is truly curious and asks a W question, you might want to do one of two things.
Option #1 – If you know that his or her question will be addressed in the unit, say so and proceed with the lesson.
Option #2 – If his or her question is not addressed, put that student in charge of his or her own learning process. Ask the class if they have any answers for the curious student. The Question Asker gets to select the various students in the room to provide an answer. If at the end of their various answers, you, as the teacher, have an answer that is worth giving, raise your hand. The students delight in calling on the teacher playing the role of a ‘student’. Once called upon, you can provide additional insight with your answer.
When reading stories to the class
When you read curriculum stories to the class, you might want to give your students one of two options.
Option #1: They have five seconds to quietly sit on the floor.
Option #2: They can remain at their desks or move to a closer vacant desk.
You will find that even middle school students love to be read to.
After the story has ended, direct them to return to their assigned seats for the six Bloom’s Taxonomy Discussion Questions at the end of every story or role-play. Since these questions would also qualify as ‘candy questions’, this avoids fingers from getting stepped on as the students come to the front of the room to get one small piece of candy as a reward for giving a correct answer.
- Ogle, D.M. (1986). K-W-L: A teaching model that develops active reading of expository text. Reading Teacher, 39, 564-570.
- KWL In Action: Secondary Teachers Find Applications that Work by Donna M. Ogle
- K-W-L: A teaching model that develops active reading of expository text by Donna M. Ogle
- KWL (Donna M. Ogle, 1986)
- KWL table from Wikipedia