Welcome to two of my favourite classroom phrases- 'I Like...' / 'I Wonder...'.
I embedded this practice into my day-to-day teaching after attending The PBL Australia Conference. At this event presenters from The Buck Institute introduced us to 'Gallery Walks'. I don't believe this a new technique, nor do I claim it to be ground-breaking; however, it is an effective practice that can be beneficial in all classrooms. (Here is an example of one teacher implementing a 'Gallery Walk' in her language classroom.) During the conference we had to present an idea for a PBL unit in our class. We wrote up our concepts on butcher's paper and pinned them up around the room. This is where the 'Gallery Walk' came into play. We had to view and read each teachers proposal and contribute two thoughts on Post-It notes - one beginning with 'I Like...' and one beginning with 'I Wonder...'. When I collected my proposal I found the 'I Likes...' really affirmed my idea and the 'I Wonders..' challenged me to push it further. So I took this technique back into my classroom and the thinking that results from this simple routine continues to amaze me.
Here are some examples of how I have implemented in my classroom -
1. Gallery Walks - I use Gallery Walks hand-in-hand with these prompts. A Gallery Walk a great starting point for a new unit. One lesson I set up 15 iPads around the classroom with different photographs, video and other media loaded to the screen. Students had to go to each iPad, engage with the content (which was centred around various forms of puppetry) and write an 'I Like...' and an 'I Wonder...' for each station. We then discussed the comments as a whole group. As a teacher it informed me of the material they were engaging with and also alert me to the questions that stimulated their 'want' to learn. (Eg. I like how the puppeteer has made this character's emotions come to life through the physicality of the puppet. I wonder how the puppeteer was able to manipulate the joints of the puppet so that it moved in that manner.) I have also set up online Gallery Walks to maximise time. Students record their performances and I upload them to Edmodo. (Could be used for speeches, photos of work or written work too.) Students then comment under each recording using the terms 'I Like...' and 'I Wonder...' . (Eg. I like how you used your voice to convey emotion and engage the audience. I wonder if your could further enhance the character through their use of physical gesture.) Gallery Walks also work well with essays, visual products such as posters or photographs and audio material.)
2. Daily Feedback - At the end of 99% of my lessons students share and showcase their work, both practical and theoretical, with their peers. As we view this work as a class I ask the students to either provide verbal feedback using the terms 'I Like...' and 'I Wonder...' or provide written feedback (generally in the form of Post-It notes) again using the same terms. This either opens authentic verbal discussion about the work being presented or stimulates detailed written reflections in the individual students logbook.
3. Teacher Feedback - I also manipulate these terms to guide my feedback to students both during the learning process and at formal assessment time. It reminds me to look for and name the positive in the first instance. It also provides a platform from which I can pose my constructive criticism in a way that is palatable for the student. (Eg. I like how you manipulated the elements of Drama to effectively engage the audience. However, I wonder if you could further refine your character to demonstrate more conviction and therefore extract more empathy from those watching.) By modelling this practice effectively the students further engage with the principals of kind, specific and helpful feedback which I believe these prompts clearly scaffold.
4. Exploring Texts - I often use these prompts as a way to discuss text. At the end of a chapter, stanza or a scene posing these sentence starters can lead to meaningful conversations. The 'I Likes...' open up moments in the chapter or scene that the student connected with. The 'I Wonders...' suggest predictions or pose questions that we as an audience would like the writer to answer as we delve further into the story. At the end of text it can also be a great way to being a review or extend on the lives of the characters after the event.
This language is now embedded in my classroom culture. My students are familiar with the terms and use them comfortably, with and without prompting, in classroom conversations. These two simple prompts have changed the way my students approach and respond to feedback. The feedback they provide each other is kind, specific and helpful as a result. The use of 'I Wonder...' compels them to critically think about their learning rather than feel their peers are critical of them. 'I Wonder...' also generates substantial exchanges in relation to new source material or texts.
This technique takes literally no preparation in its simplest form and can be an effective tool for generating deeper thinking in the classroom. Using it regularly will also help shape the language of the classroom and the way students approach and respond to new material. I challenge you to use it daily for a week and let me know how you find it. I wonder if it will work as well for you as it has for me!