Last week, I went into a second-grade classroom. My goal was to teach the students to use the ‘stop and jot’ strategy when reading or listening to problems.
Each sentence of the problem is read aloud. When you get to the period or comma, you stop reading and have the students quickly jot down an image or notes that match the wording of the problem. Continue with this process until every line in the problem has been read aloud and recorded.
I read aloud, “Josh has five grapes.”
The students in the class did not record anything on their papers. The students sat there and stared at me. I assume they were waiting for me to tell them exactly what to jot down.
Instead of giving up, I stopped, backed up, and tried the stop and jot strategy using a different approach. I asked myself, “Why aren’t the students writing anything down?”
I did a think-aloud.
T: “Who is in the story, I asked?”
T: “How can we jot down Josh? Do we have to spell his whole name, or can we just jot down the first letter?”
S: We can write the first letter.
T: “Do we have to write a letter, or can we make a stick figure for Josh?”
S: We can make a stick figure.
I invited the students to jot down either one of those options. (Getting to the answer had to go out of the window. I had to focus on their ability to comprehend the problem since agency and independence was my goal. I knew getting the correct answer would come as a result of their understanding.)
T: “Josh has 5 grapes,” I repeated. What could we jot down next?”
After I stayed silent for 20 seconds. Someone finally said, ” Grapes.”
It was pulling teeth, but we finally got there. I refused to let students use me as their easy way out. I was not the only strategy in the room.
I said, “Okay, let’s do this again.”