A butterfly goes to a coach

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Telling someone exactly what the difference is between coaching and the other four helping professions (consulting, mentoring, counseling and therapy) is one of the many challenges I face as a coac…

Heather MacCorkle Edick‘s insight:

Are you a coach in your classroom?  It’s an interesting question, isn’t it?

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{12 Days: 12 Tools} Infographic: Recap of 12 Tools | Learning Unlimited | Research-based Literacy Strategies

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{12 Days: 12 Tools} has been fun to share with you. Hopefully I’ve shared tools that will be of benefit to you and your colleagues. I trust as well that many of these strategies will contribute to student literacy learning.

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Education Learning Teaching

Teacher slams scripted Common Core lessons that must be taught ‘word for word’

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‘It doesn’t matter how my students learn best.’

Heather MacCorkle Edick‘s insight:

The comments on this article are actually more interesting than the article itself. There are a couple of things I would like to add to what I have already seen.

First, I think that we are doing a disservice to our children by not implementing standards-based education correctly. Too many people are not focusing on the days lost by children who are “learning” from fear-filled teachers that the only way to succeed is to pass a standardized test.

Second, that scripted curricula is becoming more common is indicative of a collective lack of confidence in teachers to be professionals in their approach to teaching. After all the training and experience in the classroom, teachers are still not considered professionals and we must investigate why that is the prevailing opinion and correct the misconception.

Third, relying on test scores and data-analysis is the quick-and-dirty solution to a complex problem that ultimately comes down to an obvious fact: kids (and humans in general) cannot be standardized. Get over it, administrators. The only way to truly gauge a teacher’s effectiveness is to examine the results child-by-child. The data on the screen might be an indication, but it’s only the very first step. High level administrators have to trust their subordinates to know how to evaluate a teacher, evaluate a situation with a student, and report the facts. Train administrators to do that part of their job better. Stop relying on quick fixes to a problem. There is no quick fix.

And by the way – how bad is the “problem,” really? And is the “problem” teacher effectiveness OR the lack of parity among districts? Why are we still not offering the same quality materials, quality infrastructure, and quality education to ALL students, regardless of their socioeconomic status? Why, in this country, are we still spending in all the wrong places? Why is education funding among the first to be cut by fiscal conservatives who then lament the state of our education system?

Address the real problems and I believe that kids will be happier in school, will learn deeply and take those lessons to their adult lives, and teachers will discover their vocation again.

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Education Learning Teaching

The Moon Is Down, Day Four

I find it interesting that I could not keep up with the idea I had about teaching a novel  by modeling the process by which one actually engages the content for the first time.  I have not picked up the book again.  The book is interesting, but the way it was being taught was not, even to me!

In the past few weeks, one of the newsletters I received contained a link to a blog post that challenged teachers to teach novels as a whole.  I did not read the article on purpose because I wanted to come up with my own plan to teach novels as a whole.  After writing this post, it might be time to read the article.  I haven’t decided yet, however.

Here are the things that would change.

Pre-Reading Activity: The 5Ws Related to This Unit

  • Who: All of us!  We are in this together.  I haven’t even read this book yet, so I’m in the same place you are.  We have the same background knowledge of the setting of this book.  We will all have questions that, hopefully, others of us can answer.  We will also have reactions that first-time readers of a novel have that we can share.
  • What: What’s the point?  This is what is called an authentic learning experience.
  • When: The novel is short, so about two weeks is a good amount of time to finish the novel.  There will be another week allowed for assessment.
  • Where: We’ll allot fifteen minutes a day for reading in class, but expect to read for at least fifteen more on your own time.
  • When: We start today!
  • Why:  The hope is that some of you will start to read for pleasure and exploration more often after this experience.  Give it a chance!

Post-Background Knowledge Checkpoint: The Reading Schedule

As a class, we would work out a schedule for reading and reflecting.  This schedule would go onto a calendar (digital and paper) that would serve as a graphic organizer of sorts for the students.  Many students carry agenda books with them these days, so it would be a perfect opportunity for them to use them for something other than going to the lav.

More importantly, however, students would feel more included in the planning process if they were to give input as to the schedule and activities.  Fostering self-directed and self-regulated learning is a huge part of this unit plan; explaining that learning objective would be very important.  The students should know it’s not just about the content, but also about the process and skills practiced that should transfer to their lives outside school.

Time for Reading in Class

Fifteen minutes a day would be allotted to reading in class and we would expect every student to spend fifteen more reading at home.  In class, we would read aloud and students could even take certain parts if they wanted to.  When we finished reading, we would agree on what page to stop reading when reading at home, so everyone stays on the same page.  I would check with students to see if they were spending more than fifteen minutes reading at home because we were assigning too many pages and encourage students who were struggling to come see me and discuss their issues.  This would give me a chance to differentiate instruction, help them with their reading skills, and get to know them better as people.

Time for Reflection in Class

Ten minutes would be dedicated to small-group reflection, much like a book club meeting, but spread out over the school days.  Book clubs usually have discussion guides, so I would like to come up with a guide that does not require the writer of the guide to know the book.  I need to revisit this idea.  I could also post questions for discussion on the board based on the reading completed overnight and during the in class reading.  OR, I could ask the students for discussion questions in addition to the ones I come up with.  All interesting ideas that would all take a bit of practice to get right.  Isn’t that the point?  Modeling the behavior that you want your students to adopt?

Authentic Assessments

When we are finished reading the novel, I would ask the students to do a project of their choice to demonstrate their understanding of the novel.  I will write more about that later after I’ve had time to think about the types of projects I would like them to complete.

Now I want to finish the book!  Interesting, isn’t it?