I have been thinking a lot about Interactive Modeling, a Responsive Classroom practice. Interactive Modeling (IM) engages students to understand what the Class Rules, routines, and procedures look like, sound like, and feel like. In my humble opinion it is the most powerful strategy you can use with your students.
One of the things that I absolutely LOVE about Interactive Modeling is how it engages children. When using IM the children have the opportunity to see what they rule/routine/procedure looks like when their teacher and classmates model it. They have the opportunity to hear what the rule/routine/procedure sounds like when they state or hear their classmates state what they observed the modeling. All students also have the opportunity to practice, do it. How many strategies or practices do you know actually meet all learning modalities; allowing kiddos to see, hear, and do?
I see IM as the anchor that keeps the ship stabilized in calm or stormy seas. Once you have introduced a routine or procedure through IM it will always be there for you to refer back to, and because the kiddos have experienced it in their modality they remember!
"Who remembers what we do when we have question while at stations?" This is a question I often ask the kiddos before they go to work in stations, begin something that may be challenging, or I meet with small groups. I want them to be successful so if I notice or think it may be a particularly challenging time for them I set them up for success with this proactive reminder. Because I used Interactive Modeling to teach this procedure, the kiddos tell me:
- ask my partner
- ask someone at my table
- touch light (our non-verbal signal to let adults know they need a hand)
- shave it for later (our parking lot)
Yet, I don't always proactively remind them. At this point in the school year I know that most often they will remember what to do if they have a question. Yet, sometimes they do forget and come over to me while I work in a small group. So I remind them (reactively); "Show me what we do when we have a question." Because I have used IM I know they can do one of those things (for some kiddos its also helpful to have an anchor chart available to list those things) successfully. I can also re-direct them if I see them wandering around the room or they come over to me, by just saying 'touch light' or 'shave it for later'. Of course, I also reinforce when I see people using the touch lights, our parking lot or ask a peer.
- "I noticed that even though there were a lot of questions today people were asking their partners."
- "I saw a lot of touch lights on today when people had a question."
- "I see some people shaved their questions for later. I'll take a look at them and get back to you soon."
Because of Interactive Modeling everything I say to them around asking questions is concrete and supported by that experience. I can always refer back to it when I speak to them and they know exactly what I'm talking about. They've experienced it!
The same is true when I use Logical Consequences with children. If I tell a child to 'chill' (my version of Positive Time Out) because I see them waving the touch light around they know its because they have learned how to use the touch light safely; they participated in an Interactive Model! If I move the touch light away from them because they are sliding it around the table they know why; they've participated in the IM that taught them how to care for the touch light.
Have you ever had a kiddo that needs to move around a lot and will 'find reasons' to move around? Or how about that kiddo who needs a lot of adult interaction and will ignore a routine or procedure to get that need met? This is another reason why IM is so powerful. Because they have seen, heard, and done it I am able to quickly problem solve with them. After engaging them in some reflective observation (I noticed...what did you notice...) I re-state the importance of our procedure, "It's really important that I be able to work with small groups uninterrupted so that everyone can learn. The touch lights help us do that because I can see you have a question and come to you as soon as I'm done." I then can get them thinking about how I can help them be successful with this, maybe by providing some alternatives if they've tried the other strategies (ask a peer, parking lot) like moving on, trying again, or me providing them with a signal to let them know I know they need help and I'll be there as soon as I'm done.
Interactive Modeling anchors. It keeps a classroom calm regardless of what they are doing. Everything the children do, and everything I do, is a direct result of the Interactive Modeling we have participated in. If I haven't taught it using IM then most likely I am going to struggle to reinforce what they did well or need to improve upon. If I haven't taught it using IM then when children lose self-control and/or break rules they are will struggle to understand the associated consequence. If I haven't taught it using IM then those kiddos who need a little bit more support will struggle to problem solve with me. It is the language of the room; it's how we live.
For more info on Interactive Modeling, be sure to check out these Responsive Classroom resources:
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