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.
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.
From My Notebook: Planning #sol19
I’m torn this week from my notebook to the work we’ve noticed in the classroom. In the second bend of baby literary essay, we noticed that the students are adopting the language and structure of the essay. Their evidence is grounded in text and they are growing a small theory. The place we see them struggle a little is matching their evidence to their theory. Letting them sail off on Thursday, choosing their own picture book, their own theory, making their own plans, let us notice what’s up with their independent writing.
We meet to hash it out. She has the writing notebooks piled on her table, but when she speaks first it’s about the state test.
I went through the last five years of questions for the test, she says. We haven’t done character comparisons, journal entries, and… there’s poetry. They also have perspective, cross text synthesis, and predictions.
I pause letting her words settle around us. I’m working on that… the pause. It is a lot and time is short.
Their work is better than we thought, she says. As we sift through, we notice bright spots. This one has strong evidence. This one is getting the idea of connection story. This one had a plan. This one has the language down. On we go. I reflect that as a team, we’ve gotten so much better at the quick glance, read, determine teaching points. Only a few were struggling that day.
She brings out a scrap of paper from her teacher notebook. We have a box for students to put concerns she says. This one was in it yesterday. I don’t like how the teachers never call on me when I have a good idea, it begins. We pause and discuss. Using the turn and talk gives students all a chance to say their ideas in the air, but clearly this friends still is craving the teacher’s attention or the spotlight. We reflect on our own balance. Who are we asking to share? We think we are equitable. We vow to keep an eye on it next week.
Back to the work we met to do. We work through the next week, weaving in books and techniques. His name remains on the top of the page.