CLASSROOM CASE STUDY
Poor Monitoring, Unfortunate Results
Abby Leibowitz’s middle-level social studies class was completing a unit on the branches of the government and the role of political parties. Since an election for the state’s governor was coming up, they had examined the candidates as a way to see the distinction between the parties. To summarize that information, Ms. Leibowitz split the class into four groups and asked each group to display the parties’ similarities and differences on big Post-it sheets with the use of a graphic organizer, such as a compare/contrast chart or a Venn diagram. After giving directions and forming the groups, Ms. Leibowitz was at her desk jotting some notes about a discipline incident from her last class period.
Some students were into the task; others were not. Some groups didn’t know what a Venn diagram is or had disagreements about which graphic organizer to use. Some students started to doodle with the magic markers that were to be used on the poster paper. The students who wanted to get the poster prepared complained to the others who were off task. After a while, the noise increased, and most groups were not making much progress. Ms. Leibowitz had barely looked up during this time.
1. How might Ms. Leibowitz improve her monitoring of the students’ behavior and progress when they are in the groups? How could she show her withitness to the students during group work?
2. What problems might Ms. Leibowitz have foreseen with her plan? What adjustments might she have made before the lesson to have it work out better? (Foreseeing problems is part of withitness.)