Today, I had a blast co-teaching a story retell lesson in first grade! As you may know, story retell, CCSS RL.2, is a skill kindergarten through third grade students work on each year. Teachers are always looking for new ways for students to practice retelling stories, and I was approached by a teacher to provide coaching support through co-teaching a technology integrated reading lesson.
My office is full of Makerspace items, including Spheros, Ozobots, Ollies, but the cutest is definitely the BeeBots! We have Bluebots too, however for this activity, the teacher wanted to use the Beebots.
For this lesson, students retold a familiar story: The Three Little Pigs. This was selected so students would become acquainted with coding the Beebot. I had pre-made cards representing different parts of the story, which students placed around the card mat.
Next time, students will retell the story from their whole class reading lesson or small group reading book. Other lessons the teacher has brainstormed include placing sight words, math facts and number sentences, and science concepts like animal life cycles, under the cat mats.
If you haven't given Beebots a try, I highly suggest it! Students love coding, and teachers (and Instructional Coaches) love seeing another technology learning tool being used in the classroom!
For several years, Reciprocal Teaching has been one of my go-to strategies for reading. Over the past year I started using it in math instruction and am loving the results.
In case you aren't familiar with Reciprocal Teaching, there are four strategies ("The Fab Four"): Predict, Question, Clarify, and Summarize. All four strategies are used within each lesson, and Reciprocal Teaching has an effect size of .74. Introducing the strategies can occur through read alouds (Lori has a great list in her book), or by using cards like the ones below. For more information, check out ASCD's Fab Four webpage, and Reciprocal Teaching at Work by Lori Oczkus.
Through my Instructional Coach role, I have the opportunity to partner with teachers, and incorporating Reciprocal Teaching within reading and math is one of my favorite topics/goals. To support our work, I have created different resources related to Reciprocal Teaching, starting first with reading and later adding in math. Below, you can check out several of the resources I have created.
I love the results I've seen from Reciprocal Teaching in reading and math, and cannot speak high enough of the strategies.
If you would like support incorporating Reciprocal Teaching in your instruction, have questions, or would like copies of any resources, let me know.
For this year's ITPDP (Individual Teacher Professional Development Plan), I decided to track the types and frequency of teacher engagement in coaching. To do this, I put together an "Entry Points for Coaching" graphic and shared it with teachers. Each trimester, I will track the three types of entry points, identifying trends and reflecting on changes I can make to my coaching work.
In addition to allowing me to track engagement in coaching, the graphic also communicates coaching to the teachers I support.
Is there anything you would add to the graphic?
If you would like a copy of the graphic, let me know.
I LOVE reading, and summer is a great time to dive into learning. This summer I read several professional learning books, novels for book talks, and a textbook and articles for grad classes. After reflecting on all the titles I read, I narrowed down my list, and the top six are pictured above. Each book allowed me to grow as an educator and helped me gear up for another school year of supporting teaching and learning through Instructional Coaching.
Looking forward to this school year, I already have a "to read" list started and will continue to share my learning here as well as on Twitter (@LairdLearning).
What title(s) do you recommend I check out?
I recently finished Relentless by Hamish Brewer, and it was exactly the book I needed to read as I prepared to head back for another school year. Four themes that stood out to me as I read were:
I believe this is a must read for educators (teachers and principals) as it pushes and encourages you to look at your legacy and the steps you're taking to write your story.
As I gear up for the 2019-2020 school year, I can't help but think about 2020, not just as the beginning of another decade, but also in terms of 20/20 vision. When I hear 20/20 vision, a few words that come to mind are: clarity, distance, and screenings.
School districts, leaders, and teachers have visions for their organization, it’s the "why" that drives their work and provides direction. This vision allows everyone to focus on what matters most - the students being served. Chances are your vision includes something related to students achieving at high levels, professional learning communities, or teacher collaboration, but how clear is your vision? Is it 20/20?
Steps to Refining Your Vision
Clarity: By clarity, I refer to having a clear understanding of where you and your organization are going. A professor I had in both my undergraduate and graduate programs frequently reminded us of the adage, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any path will lead you there.” This statement has guided my work and reminded me to pause and ensure my work, path, and end goals are aligned. An activity to try with staff tied to clarity and consensus is the One Word Challenge. Also, check out #oneword for examples and to connect with others.
Distance: Are you on track to go the distance? Have you set goals, established an action plan, and implemented systems and structures (including personnel) to ensure success? To whom have you communicated your vision? Like teaching, leadership is a team sport, and as such you need a team who understand and are committed to the vision. Consider creating an infographic identifying your goals and post it around the building, school website, and on social media. The more eyes you have on your goals and vision, the more people there are to join in and support you on the journey.
Screenings: What screenings, or checkpoints, do you have in place? How will you know when you’ve achieved your vision? Writing SMART goals, going on learning walks, utilizing Instructional Rounds, or using PLC protocols to discuss data can help inform your work throughout the year. Recognizing how quickly schedules fill up, push-notification services such as Calendar reminders or scheduled emails what can be a way to keep the screening frequencies at the forefront of your mind.
No matter how your vision is phrased, if we truly want to make 2020 the best year of teaching and learning for our students, then we owe it to them to have 20/20 (or better) vision.
So again, I'll ask: What's your vision, and more importantly, is it 20/20?
For the past three years (2016-2019) I have had the joy of serving along side fifteen of the most passionate literacy advocates out there. Together, on the International Literacy Association's Board, we worked to ensure the organization's mission and vision were enacted. During my term, I had the privilege of serving on committees and task forces, presenting chapter awards at the annual conference, and supporting ILA's Children's Rights to Read campaign. The three years flew by, and I was humbled, honored, and grateful for the opportunity to serve and advocate for literacy. While it is bittersweet to close this chapter, I am looking forward to continuing my literacy work through my PhD study, consulting, and advocacy.
In late April, I was in a meeting where data was being discussed and the question of when to celebrate the end of year data came up. I cringed and shared I don’t believe there’s an end point we should focus on, because learning doesn’t end. You see, students are on a learning journey, where a body of evidence builds as they progress through PK-12 (or 16/20) schooling. Yes, there are checkpoints along the way, and progress should be acknowledged, but “end-of-year data” seems final to me and communicates the wrong message about learning. Just because the calendar says May or June, doesn’t mean learning ends. By no means am I saying to ignore data or no longer recognize growth or gains, but instead, view the information as what it is, limit the emphasis, and continue setting goals with students and keep the learning momentum going.
As you might guess, I am also not the countdown to the end of the year type of educator either, but that’s a conversation for another time and blog post.
What are your thoughts on celebrating end-of-year data?
Writing grants is a great way to fund projects and programs. To date, I have brought in over $30,000 in grant funding to my elementary building. The grant highlighted in this post is from Facebook's Altoona Data Center Community Action Grant. I have received this grant three times, and this year's is for $14,700 to fund technology which will be used in our kindergarten classrooms.
If you're unsure where to begin, I encourage you to look at educational organizations you are part of, or the literacy focused blog post I wrote a while back.
If you would like support or wish to learn more about projects I have funded, don't hesitate to reach out.
Note: If you're in a school district, you will want to check whether there is a grant funding process or checklist you need to follow.
One of my assignments for my EL PS 620: Education for Social Justice was to read and critique a social-justice oriented text. I chose Garcia and O'Donnell-Allen's Pose, Wobble, Flow: A Culturally Proactive Approach to Literacy Instruction. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this text and highly recommend it! Rather than sharing my full critique writeup, I am including the handout I created to share the information with the class.