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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Accountable Counting

This year, the Dallas school district has made a really big point of stressing "accountable talk" among the children. This means that the kids are supposed to explain how they got their answers and discuss their strategies with the other students.

This is often quite difficult for many of my kids, since they are used to just saying a number when I ask a question or shouting NOOO! at another kid when they disagree with his or her answer.

Frequently, I will say, "Please raise your hand if you know the answer," and 15 hands will shoot up. But when I add, "and if you can explain to me how you got your answer," 12 of those hands go back down.

Anyway, the kids have lists of accountable talk prompts taped to their desks to help them remember how to begin.

These prompts include:

"I got my answer by ____________."

"To solve this problem, first I _______________, then I ______________."

"I'd like to add more to what __________ said."

To be honest, my kids very rarely begin their sentences any of these ways. However, the two prompts that they really DO seem to have latched on to are the ones that begin with, "I agree with __________" and, "I disagree with ______________."

So it was very funny to hear the way in which these prompts came into play on Wednesday of this past week.

We were completing a name graph in the Everyday Math journal. To construct this bar graph, we had to first create a tally chart that showed the number of letters in people's first names. I was standing at the center of the class asking the kids to raise their hands if they had 4 letters in their first name, 5 letters in their first name, etc.

When I got to the "10 or more" category, I had one little girl who raised her hand, saying she had 11 letters in her name.

With our tally chart completed, we moved on to the next step, but that's when a boy in my class raised his hand and said, "I disagree with her, because I counted the letters in her name, and there are only 10 letters in her name."

Immediately, the little girl raised her hand and retorted, "I disagree with him, because I know how to spell my name, and there are 11 letters in my name."

Let no one say that my kids aren't talking accountably...


Mrs. Bluebird said...

Wow, I use "accountability talk" and didn't even know it. As a science teacher I constantly pound into the kids the need for "evidence" to back up their answers - I try to relate a lot of science to the TV shows they like, such as CSI, Cold Case, etc. The kids to me asking for "evidence", that now it's become almost second nature.

Holly Jahangiri said...

Hah! Wish I'd had the guts that little girl did when my First Grade teacher kept subtracting one point from EVERYTHING I turned in, saying I spelled my middle name wrong.

I knew how to spell my name, but thanks to her, I just dropped my middle name. Too much trouble to deal with!

IMC Guy said...

I love it! I wish I could have heard that discussion.