From My Notebook: Staying with the Hard Work #sol19

For the month of March , I will be participating in the Slice of Life Challenge (#sol19) sponsored by Two Writing Teachers. I will be slicing each day for 31 days inspired by my work as a literacy specialist and coach, my life, and my fellow bloggers.

Notebook Saturdays

Through my work as a literacy coach,  I have teachers that I meet and collaborate with throughout the week.  Usually these meetings are at 7:30 a.m. on a scheduled day of the week. I  meet with each teacher or team for 1/2 hour keeping notes of what we are working on.  Our school is an UOS of Study school following the work of Lucy Calkins and colleagues in this our first year of full implementation.  Most of our meetings are in their classrooms. Some teachers will come with questions, sometimes we plan out what we will work on the next week, sometimes I have a teaching technique or skill  I’ve noticed or a suggestion. I keep a journal entry of each meeting to keep me thinking. I am thankful to Tammy Mulligan, Teachers for Teachers, for assisting me in working on offering a menu of ideas during this coaching time.  This is still, after years, a work in progress.

Thinking about Writing about Reading:  Book Clubs, Literary Essay, & the Narrative Task #sol19

March 16, 2019

IMG_3575The afternoon before they warned me.  Be ready!  We’re bringing a lot to talk about tomorrow.  Maybe we need some extra time.  Sure, I say.  You know I’ll be here around 7.

Sure enough, around ten after 7,  the show up, arms full, already talking to each other.  I imagine all the way down from their rooms in  the other side of the building,  Anxious to see what they are thinking, the papers are quickly spread all over the table.  Waiting and listening for the kernel,  I take a sip of coffee and open my notebook.  This conversation had started the week before. The intersection of historical fiction book clubs, literary essays, and the looming state test tasks have been a hot topic.

Last week, after a free write about the the character trait of Fox in Fox, the students struggled to develop a thesis for Number the Stars and the books in their book clubs.  Having some personal theories, I wait for an opening and ask, point to the place where you lost them. There is a pause where these thoughtful teachers consider, then go back and look at their student work.  I wait.

Make to the start.  What’s the goal?  Grow an idea about a character using evidence.  Two overall problems emerge:  idea is weak or evidence doesn’t strongly support thesis.  The students seem to be heavily reliant on retell or prediction.  What’s next?  Go back.  Try again with a familiar text that they completed a lot of character work with in the fall, The Last Kiss by Ralph Fletcher available in the book Marshfield Dreams.

Our final decisions:  Limit choice to Complications A Character Has or Lesson Learned                                            Teach Back into the Skill                                                                                                                      Reexamine Results                                                                                                                                  Have student create a theory chart with evidence across text

They came back with the more notes and ideas the next week.  Stay tuned.














theory chart

IMG_3599 Growing an ideaIMG_3686.jpgJot Menu


21 thoughts on “From My Notebook: Staying with the Hard Work #sol19

  1. I like the way this clips along so that your syntax creates a sense of urgency, a rush against the clock to do as much as we can w/ students.

  2. This is an amazing example of what Lucy Calkins describes in Leading Well about looking at student work, finding a problem, and creating an opportunity for both students and teachers to grow. I love that the teachers came prepared for this work. Great things are happening!

  3. I love the way you gather to examine student work, monitoring and adjusting to help students be successful. It is wonderful to have this kind of collaboration in school. Are these meetings usually by grade level? This teamwork is impressive and leads to positive actions and results!

    • We have grade level meetings, however this is not that. I have collaboration spots that teachers sign up for, some like these two on a regular basis. It just happens that they wanted to meet together. Often these are 1:1 before or after school or during planning period.

  4. I’m a first year coach with more to do than I can possibly tackle…you’ve really inspired me here to grow toward a collaborative relationship like this, rooted in the work and learning of students. I love everything about this!

  5. I’m gathering a new appreciation from reading your slices for the work involved in serving as a literacy coach. Thanks for these regular peeks behind a curtain that’s not really a curtain.

  6. I enjoyed this slice. I love this peek into your work, and am eager to read next week’s post. I totally agree with comment by jcareyreads — “Leading Well”

  7. I enjoy reading your posts so much…so many great ideas and they are so relevant to what I am currently teaching! THANK YOU for your time and amazing detail in explaining and sharing these amazing ideas!

  8. Thank you for better helping me understand all involved in the coaching position. My sister is also a coach and we have many interesting conversation about education.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s