Practicing Quiet

Thursday was a bluster of noise and activity as students learned about the planets exchanging partners every few minutes to share information on their “home” planet.

My classroom is often like this. Lots of movement. Lots of noise. Lots of sharing. Lots of laughing.

But I realized that perhaps we don’t spend enough time in quiet contemplation and reflection. I saw a link to a TedTalk about introverts. I also started reading the Kindle sample of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. (Somehow it took me a bit to realize the book and TedTalk were by the same person!) But it really made me stop to think. If one-third to one-half of the students in my classroom are introverts who love the quiet world of their minds (like me), why do I feel like we must spend most of our time in groups collaboration assignments? I am not saying that these are bad, but I do think I need to find more of a balance between quiet contemplation and gregarious, social sharing. I think I may have stretched too far into the always working together “ideal” because I am an introvert who could very easily spend days alone working through problems, so it’s almost an overcompensation to show I know how to reach extroverts. Plus, we do see to hear in a lot of professional development that it is all about collaboration. But does it really need to be?

So on Friday, we practiced quiet. The lesson for the day was a reading for meaning strategy about comets, asteroids, and meteors, so it lent itself well to a time of practicing quiet. I began class by explaining my reasoning, and I also read an excerpt from the book Quiet. (Leading to another observation – kids LOVE story time, even if you are reading nonfiction to them. Have you read to your students lately?)

I then explained the format of the Reading for Meaning strategy. Students read a series of statements and circle if they agree or disagree with each one. Then, we read two articles and gather evidence to support or refute the statements. We only read the first article on Friday. I decided we should read together as I modeled the strategy with my students since we have not done anything like this before, and it was a bit challenging for them.

But once we started quietly working, reading (I read the article out loud), and stopping when students found evidence to share on our organizer, I noticed something incredibly interesting. Students who often are quiet and don’t share loved this strategy. They were seeing the connections in ways that perhaps their extroverted counterparts couldn’t. These students had found their individual voice in the quiet.

I encourage you to watch Susan Cain’s TedTalk about The Power of Introverts. I hope unlike me, you haven’t forgotten that it is okay to practice quiet in balance with collaboration. Finally, I have attached the lesson plan, graphic organizer, and articles I share with my students for this lesson.



By Janelle

Space geek, science nerd extraordinaire. That's me! Want to know more, visit the About page.

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