small batch coaching #sol17

Smallbatch-300x300 Small Batch Coaching

April 18, 2017

I have been thinking a great deal about instructional coaching of late; having a coaching cycle in place in my role as a literacy specialist:  teachers I meet with weekly,  co-teaching in place with a few teachers to varying degrees of formality, PLCs I meet with regularly and semi-regularly.  Those are all great and working well, but this past week I was thinking about ‘small batch’ coaching.

So small batch can come in a few different forms, most successful  it has a connection to your underlying goals in your building, with your team, or in some cases, with your hidden agenda.  I admit it. Sometimes I have a not-so-hidden agenda.  I will say it outright when asked.  Here’s one example of a small batch/not hidden agenda.

I dropped by one day as a intervention teacher was lead teaching in a classroom.  My purpose was to ask her about intervention with a student for a conference later that day.  When I arrived in the classroom the class had just completed a read-aloud of The Mouse, The Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear, a perennial classic for kindergarten.  IMG_8594That was wonderful, but then…  I saw this.

IMG_8592 I think it’s safe to say and will not surprise anyone who has worked with me that I immediately started thinking how I could suggest a change-up in this activity or even shift the students’ thinking myself.

The probable goal of this sheet was sequencing and the students all sat at tables coloring the paper waiting for permission to cut and then glue .  I said to the teacher,  I love this book!   … Another thing  you might have done is let the students interact with the book, create props and do a retell on their own.  Perhaps that would have gotten to your objective too,  sequencing strength.  Well, maybe next time…or words to that effect. 

I went on about my day and then as the students were going to lunch, they stopped by the literacy center.FullSizeRender

There before me were dozens of little mice complete with mouse ears and a very large construction paper strawberry.   The teacher had thought about it and given it a go right away.  The students were thrilled and eager to share what they had done.

Now, do I wish that the students had made the ears and the strawberry, and had props and such from the beginning?  Yes.   However, changing our practice, changing our stance, shifting our outlooks takes time.  Much like we scaffold and linger and try out with our students, we should be willing to move at that same pace with their teachers.

So here’s to small batches of coaching, gentle nudges.  May they be casual chat over coffee, a notice of something wonderful tried, an interesting website/article/video sent with a quick note, a drop in, and encouraging smile.  After all,  we are just giving it a go too.

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My Five… Coaching Resources #SOL17

stackbooksilaMy Five…. Coaching Resources #SOL17

March 13, 2017

Here are my go-to resources to glean resources,  loan out,  reread to deepen collaboration, growth, and work with teachers and students.  The order and use change situationally.

Fountas and Pinnell Continuum of Literacy Learning 3rd Edition

I’ve used this resource for years and could only love it more when the Fountas and Pinnell team produced the 3rd edition.  This book has grade level goals, reading level behaviors for work in all the areas of literacy, technology, listening/ speaking,  writing,  whole and small group work.  When thinking about conferring, goal setting, lesson planning, and formative assessment, this resource does not fail.  I especially recommend the expanded information on interactive read aloud.  There is a webinar to familiarize users with the tool that is very helpful

The Daily Five

The Daily Five helps teachers develop a structure for independence in the reading workshop by outlining the steps to scaffold learning in reading to self, reading with others, listening to reading, word work, and writing about reading.  There are detailed ideas for maintaining balance across all the areas of literacy. Especially for newer teachers and large or challenging classes.

A Guide to the Reading Workshop (2015)  Both K-2 and 3-5 editions

A comprehensive guide to systematically planning for reading workshop including timing, share reading, conferring, small group work, and general work in constructing the focus lesson.  Individual chapters and components are excellent for discussions on scaffolding learning and student agency.  Also recommended Reading Pathways.

Assessment in Perspective

Assessment in Perspective is wonderful in its entirety moving from why we collect data to how to use data effectively, to involving students with their own data.  Especially helpful to teachers are their helpful suggestions on mining data and organizing thinking around small group work with students.  Their blog,  Assessment in Perspective, is a fresh, up to date resource of theory meets practice  written in teacher friendly language.  

Teaching Reading in Small Groups

Teaching Reading in Small Groups goes beyond traditional guided reading to authentic, timely, practical instruction in flexible small groups.  This book contains ideas for forming small groups, conferring in small groups, and so much more.  Jennifer Serravallo has produced many video supports to this work.  Also recommended by Serravallo, Reading Strategies Book and Writing Strategies Book.  These books are particularly helpful when using the If/Then Units within the Calkins Units of Study.  

Other than the Writing Strategies Book,  these aren’t particularly new resources, however, each is so strong in recent thinking in pedagogy and theory in literacy.  All are easy to read and easy to use.  

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