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Clear Expectations and Important Work Empower Students to Work Independently

Type

Videos

Grade Level

In this video, Spanish teacher Nancy Hagstrom empowers her students at Casco Bay High School in Portland, Maine, to work independently so that she can work with small groups. Classroom structures, meaningful work expectations, and a strong sense of community allow for an active and productive class.


Type

Videos

Grade Level

In this video, Spanish teacher Nancy Hagstrom empowers her students at Casco Bay High School in Portland, Maine, to work independently so that she can work with small groups. Classroom structures, meaningful work expectations, and a strong sense of community allow for an active and productive class.


Transcript

- [Teacher] Hola!

- [Students] Hola.

- Como estan?

- [Students] Bien.

- Bien.

- [Narrator] Nancy Hagstrom has high expectations and regard for her Spanish students. And in today’s class, she’s leaving them largely unsupervised so she can conduct small group assessments in conversational Spanish.

- So in Spanish Three, we’re starting to talk about the Mexican Revolution and the art of Frieda Kahlo and Diego Rivera, and they will have to be able to talk to each other about those themes in Spanish, and so what I’ve spent the whole first month of the year doing is prepping the kids to be comfortable with this standard because it’s gonna be a through line all year.

- [Narrator] When leaving students to work independently, many teachers assign busy work because they don’t want to be interrupted. But as we’ll see in Nancy’s class, just the opposite is true. By combining clear expectations with work that really matters, Nancy has created a classroom context where her students are productive even when she’s out of the room.

- Nice job, guys.

- Yay!

- One of the challenges today is that I was doing an assessment that I had to be present for with small groups, which meant that I had to leave the rest of the class to their own devices. What allowed that to be successful and what allowed the kids in class to be on task, was that they had two very concrete but relatively high stakes tasks.

- [Narrator] Before beginning the conversation assessments, Nancy told students to independently budget their unsupervised time between practicing for the conversation assessment and building background knowledge for the upcoming art unit.

- Whenever I have kids do independent work, I make sure I have a structure for the independent work. La rubrica. So let’s look at this in English for a second.

- [Narrator] Using a rubric for the conversation practice and a note catcher for the Frieda Kahlo text, Nancy set the stage for an engaged and unsupervised work period.

- Por favor, necesito groupo uno aqui. Aiden, Sarah, Gustavo, Wyatt, y Jack. Yo no hablar. Ustedes pana hablar entre si mismos. One of my goals is to encourage kids to be confident and to access the material while also performing at a high level. If I can make my content feel fun to them, they’re gonna engage and they’re gonna rise to the level that I want them to rise to.

- [Students] Si, yeah. Yo no.

- Me gusta juego la ah-kay-en-el...

- At the beginning of the year, I very specifically say to them, this class is gonna have independent components. I’m gonna be doing assessments with them out of the room and I need to know that I can trust you guys to be doing what you need to do in the room while I’m out of the room, so that we can do cool things. If I were to have given my kids no structure, they would have been quickly off task. When there are concrete structures in place, the kids know what to do. Their anxiety level is low. They know where they’re going and there’s some scaffolding there to support them in focusing, being independent and then accomplishing what they need to accomplish.

- Un dia Frieda se enferma. Tiene se So one day, Frieda’s sick...

- [Female Student] Mhm.

- [Male Student] And she...

- So, like, when she was, like, sick, she would just draw.

- Oh, okay.

- She was to pass the time.

- So in Miss Hagstrom’s class, we’re really good at working independently and in groups because she gives us so much time every class to do it, and I think it’s that practice that really shows us, like, oh we can work alone or we can work with each other. We don’t really need a teacher.

- All the starters on my notes and the quick responses, so you guys might want to read those because...

- That’s a good idea.

- [Nancy] I do a lot of team building in my class because learning a language is really high stakes for a lot of kids. I’m not asking them to be perfect. I’m asking them to try. If I can lower that effective filter and make them feel comfortable in here and like they can trust each other, they can laugh with each other and know that they’re not gonna be made fun of, then that is, like, the foundation. That allows a lot of other things to happen.

- So, if you’re a teacher who wants to give a lot of independent work time, I think you have to show that you trust the students. The teacher may not be there, but they trust us and they want us to succeed. I think that just reflects on us, like, oh yeah, I can do this. If they trust me, then hey, maybe I have a chance of succeeding.

- Okay, adios, muchas gracias todos. Gracias.

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