The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.


If you somehow came to today’s blog post because you were looking for information about Jane Austen’s classic novel, Persuasion, I apologise. You won’t find anything here about it. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever even read that particular Austen novel. I’m pretty certain my Austen reading has been limited to Pride and PrejudiceSense and Sensibility, and Emma.

What you will read about it how my students showed me they could effectively argue for a specific thing they wanted to accomplish. It all started several months ago, when we brainstormed a list of ways we can celebrate filling our large pebble jar. (We have a small jar that we’d filled once before. Once it is full, all of the pebbles go in the large jar and when the large jar gets filled, we have a big celebration.) Then I heard about a wonderful way some colleagues of mine at another school had their students demonstrate persuasive writing. (I heard about it yesterday afternoon during my last Literacy Across Content Areas Inquiry Group meeting of the year.) The teachers at the other school had allowed students to select a way they could have a classroom celebration. Then the students made posters to show their arguments, and finally they shared them with the class as one of the teachers made a video recording of it.

Of course, those students were in second grade, but I liked the idea and wanted to do something similar with my class. And today we just happened to fill the small jar for the second time, which means we’ve filled the large jar for the first time. So we went over the list we’d come up with earlier and decided on three possible ways to celebrate:

  • Movie & Treats Party
  • Picnic at a Local Park
  • Extended Read, Write, Think!

I had the students show, by a raise of hands, which option they liked. It turns out that nobody thought the extended Read, Write, Think! time was the best idea, so we took that from the list. I had all the students who wanted a picnic at the park to gather in one part of the room and all the students who wanted the movie and treats party to gather somewhere else. The movie group was pretty big, so I decided to divide them into two groups.

I then had the students come up with three reasons why they felt we should celebrate using their idea. After coming up with their reasons, they wrote them on large sheets of lined chart paper and shared them with the class. As they shared, I recorded their arguments. I told the class that this would allow me to have a record of both the students sharing and the students listening.

Here are the three videos:




The class decided that we should definitely do a movie and treats party this Friday. I have reached out to our Head Room Parent who is going to see if she can help coordinate this (short notice, I know, but I like to have immediate consequences for both negative and positive behaviour!) And who knows? Maybe we’ll still go to one of the parks at the end of the year, too!


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