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08.13.19[Updated] “It’s Gonna Be So Hard to Choose!” Three Cold Calls from Brittney Moore’s Class

Brittney and her third graders…

Got a new Cold Call video to share with you. It’s of Brittney Moore, who teaches third grade at Troy Prep Elementary in Troy, NY. The video includes three different examples of Cold Call and my team and I loved each one.

EA.ColdCAll.GR3.Moore.’So hard to choose.’Clip2958 from TLAC Blog on Vimeo.

In the first, students are writing answers to a question. Brittney circulates and reads their work carefully. You can hear her appreciation in her loving laughter which she caps with a statement to the class that is the perfect preamble to a Cold Call:

“It’s gonna be so hard to choose one person to share out.”

What this tells students is that being Cold Called is a reflection of the quality of their work as an individual and as a group. It’s an honor and they should share with pride. Neveah is the lucky one and her voice is bright and cheery as she shares what she wrote. And Brittney’s words shape her students’ expectations not only about this single moment but about what will happen anytime they do written work: Ms. Moore is going to read it carefully; she is looking for success; she may choose me. I should do my best work!

The second Cold Call starts with written work again. This is important–in both cases everyone has already done the work of answering the question. And in fact everyone volunteers to answer but Brittney asks students to put their hands down before a double Cold Call–first Nasai to answer and Neveah again to explain why. Asking students to put their hands down allows her to move faster; it also allows her to disguise to some degree whether the students she chose had their hands up. When she say “hands down” everyone knows to be on their toes and that anyone can be called on any time. She further socializes attentive listening–to peers not just to teacher–by making the second Cold Call a follow-on… Neveah has to explain why Nasai was right and this means she–and all students–always have to be listening carefully to their peers. And in fact Neveah shows that she was. She explains the answer without a moment’s hesitation.

The third clip begins as a student is finishing giving an answer. Brittney is again building a culture of careful listening. ‘What do you think?’ she asks. They use a signal–a thumb up or down placed discretely in front of their chest–to show whether they agree or not and Brittney cold calls Sam to explain his response. If you’re a fan of Habits of Discussion you’ll notice Sam’s phrase: I agree with you and I’d like to add on that…” She’s taught her students not only to listen but how to build off of one another to show their classmates that thy value their ideas.

So much to learn from :48 seconds of video! Thanks to Brittney and her scholars for sharing with us!

[Update 8.14.19]

Discussing this clip again with our team this morning–Jen Rugani, former Elementary Principal, made another great point about the first of these clips specific to using Cold Call with younger students. I thought they were super-smart and wanted to share them:

“One of the biggest issues with younger students,” Jen said, “is that they all want to be called on. The challenge is sometimes that they didn’t get to speak. But here Brittney gives two really positive private acknowledgements to individual kids that she likes their work. And then she tells everyone: your work was really good. I saw it. I could have called on you too. At least this way they’re not anxious about making sure the teacher knew they did it too.”

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