Tuesday, August 29, 2017

5 steps to teaching reading strategies with the gradual release model

Have you ever taught an amazing lesson one day, but the next day you ask the kids to recall something about it, they look at you as if to say, "We never learned that. You never taught us that. Who are you, anyway?"

Yeah, it's happened to all of us. Taught does not equal learned. Sometimes this happens when we feel so much pressure from a curriculum or program to move quickly through reading instruction. 

We throw so much stuff at kids that they don't really have time to master anything through to independence. My friend used to call these "fly-by" lessons. They really don't work. 

Instead, if something is important enough for us to teach it, we really need to take the time to make sure that kids actually learn it.  So that's why I use the gradual release model. I've made a few specific adjustments to best reach students, and this is what I use to teach students reading strategies.

When we start our teaching with something hands-on, or concrete, it gives us an anchor activity to
come back to. Kids remember things they've done actively.

I tend to use a lot of pictures and cards to get kids thinking  about the strategy I'm introducing. I design the activity to mirror the kinds of thinking they'll need to do to use the strategy.

For example, if students will have to gather clues in text, I'll have them gather clues from pictures. If students will have to sequence information in text, I'll have them sequence pictures or sequence short lines of text so it's not overwhelming.

In the picture to the right, we analyzed the picture from A Bad Case of Stripes by completing a three-column table: Clue I See, What I Know, and I Can Tell. This is the same though process I'll want kids to follow when they analyze characters, but they'll be using text.


This is also a good time to start building your anchor chart. Instead of having something already posted, build it as you go, reflecting the thought process that students use to complete the strategy.

The danger here is thinking that kids have actually learned the strategy just because they did a hands-on activity with it. These serve the purpose of providing an anchor activity; they are not in-depth enough, nor do they have enough practice time, to actually become part of your students' toolboxes.

For the model, I choose a text that has lots of opportunities to practice the strategy. I want it to be very clear that I'm responding to the text, not just making pulling thoughts out of midair.

So many students get lost when we move too fast for them to keep up. They feel like we're performing some sort of magic when we make a prediction (how did she know that would happen?) or an inference (The book didn't say that!). This is the time to take the mystery out of reading! Slow your thinking down enough so that students can follow the path from A to B.

I use post-its to mark my stopping points on the book pages. This is such a helpful tip! During a read aloud, I'll already have the pages marked, and as I get to that spot, I know it's a good place to practice my strategy. In this case, once I got to the evidence in the text, I made an inference about the character and wrote it down. This is a good way to model to students how to notice evidence, pause, practice the strategy, and respond.

This is another good time to build or add to your anchor chart.

There are several different ways to do this part. Students need to actively participate in sharing their thinking. They also need to get guidance from you, their reading model. So getting students participating is a number one priority here!

Your role here is to scaffold and guide. Here are a few ways to scaffold students in using the strategy and then encourage them to respond. with their thinking. Groups and partners are especially helpful for this step.

Spend as much time here as you need to! Rushing the You do with my help step is an easy mistake to make, but kids really need the practice.
This step requires a little more independence! Students are still practicing the same strategy, but they are receiving a little less support. I tend to use shorter texts here, especially at first, so students can try out the strategy without being overwhelmed. One great way to do this is to use task cards. The text is short enough and focused enough that students can try out the strategy quickly and then you can see how they're doing before they practice it incorrectly for too long.


Again, the text needs to have several opportunities for students to practice the strategy at first. Over time, using more complex texts is important, but we want our students to be successful at first so they learn the process that they can later apply to complex texts.

At this point, you may notice that some students are ready to move on and some aren't. That's ok! You can differentiate here by pulling some in for a small group. Take them back to whatever step in the process you believe is where their thinking got muddled. The kids who are ready to move on can!
 
Once students have had enough practice, it's time to bridge to their independent reading. This should be a self-selected text that students read on their own.  At this time, you set the purpose for reading. The purpose is to practice the strategy that you've been working on. Then, you'll need a response to see if students are applying the strategy well. I like to use graphic organizers with a brief reading response to see that students are using the strategy. Because this is the whole point of teaching reading strategies, it's important that we actually read what kids write and really see if they're able to use the strategy effectively! If not, it's time to approach it in a different way.  
 A few helpful tools:

I made a handy dandy video to show the process I follow when teaching students reading strategies. Check it out!


You can also sign up a useful gradual release freebie in your inbox!


Or grab my Reading Strategy MiniPacks on TpT! They're full of the tools you'll need to follow the gradual release model to teach reading strategies!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Chrissy-Beltran/Category/Reading-Strategy-MiniPacks-222143

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Hosting a Teacher Conference: Part Four of the "Next Steps in Instructional Coaching" Series

One of the goals of an instructional coach is to support teachers in growing in their roles as a leader.
This might not seem like an intuitive goal of an instructional coach, but if the purpose of a coach is to support long-term growth on your campus, then that definitely involves helping teachers reach their full potential.

This is a challenging goal, because teachers have to want to become leaders. You can’t simply “make” someone into a leader in their grade level or at their school. But you can certainly provide opportunities for teachers to step into those leadership roles and take an active role in leading the school. 

One fun and purposeful way to grow the leaders on your campus is to host a Teacher-Conference!

Teachers always state that they’d like more time to learn from each other. And they’re right! Teachers communicating and sharing ideas is the best way to grow your faculty and your school. The trouble is that there are few opportunities for teachers to share with each other when they’re in different grade levels. Our grade levels have a common schedule within the grade, but second grade and third grade are rarely available at the same time to share.

To support our teachers in sharing their knowledge, we took a half-day from our inservice week at the beginning of school and created a Teacher Conference.

1. Identify some likely suspects
First, my math and science counterpart and I got together and identified some likely candidates.
Which teachers are comfortable sharing in front of their colleagues, would prepare for a presentation, and have some valuable insights to share that their colleagues would be able to implement right away? We came up with a good, solid list of teachers and identified the best practices we thought other teachers would like to see.

The mode of delivery was their choice, but the topics were pre-selected by us. This was for a couple of reasons. One, we had visited classrooms across the campus and could identify what strengths teachers were demonstrating daily in their classrooms. Two, we had visited classrooms across the campus and could see what needs other teachers had. We tried to choose teachers and topics that would benefit many other teachers on our campus.

We chose from a variety of grade levels and focused our efforts on our main areas of need: reading, writing, and math. Our topics included a variety of instructional strategies and methods: math stations, mentor sentences, expository writing, interactive notebooks, problem solving, and language stations for ELLS, among others.

2. Pop the question
After we figured out our list of teachers and practices, I approached each teacher and asked if they would consider putting together a 40-minute presentation for their colleagues. The only requirement was that they provided a handout to participants. Beyond that, it could include modeling, reading, a video, or any other method they chose to employ.

Most teachers were honored and began thinking about their presentations. We told them towards the end of the school year, so if they had work samples they’d like to save to use in their presentation, they could do so before they threw out everything from the school year. This gave them some time to let their ideas percolate over the summer before they had to present in the fall.

3. Build a schedule
Our schedule included four forty-minute sessions. For each round of sessions, there were four
choices. I had several teachers present twice in one day, because I thought their session would be especially popular, and I wanted people to have more than one opportunity to see it. We capped the sessions at 7 participants in order to keep them small and personal.

4. Sign Up!
I emailed each teacher with descriptions of the sessions so they'd know which ones they'd like to participate in. Then I posted a blank schedule on the wall in the library (a common meeting place for us) and I left little slips of paper next to it so people would remember which sessions they'd signed up for. Teachers signed up for the sessions they wanted and recorded their "note to self" on the little slip. That way they'd remember their schedule for the day!




















Overall, we received great feedback for the teacher conferences. Our teachers were well-planned and presented professionally to their colleagues. The participants enjoyed the sessions and loved learning from their colleagues. And their colleagues were acknowledged as teacher experts. All around, it’s a great way to develop communication across your campus and grow teachers as leaders.
 
Check out the other posts in the Next Steps series!
Tuesday, August 1: Working with Data: What to collect and why to collect it
Saturday, August 5:  Facilitating a Data PLC: How to get people thinking
Tuesday, August 8: Growing Leadership in Teachers: teacher modeling
Saturday, August 12: Hosting a Teacher Conference

And on top of it, I'm going to host another BIG giveaway!

One lucky duck will win my Instructional Coaching Must-Haves Kit, an over $120 value!

Included in this kit: 
  • Desk inbox tray (gonna be full before you know it)
  • My favorite notebook (Bendable)
  • My favorite calendar (Week-at-a-glance)
  • The best erasable pens out there
  • Flair pens (for pretty colors)
  • A mug (Necessary for coaching)
  • Thank you cards (gotta appreciate your people)
  • A notepad cube (for notes)
  • A variety of post-it flags & labels (Fancy)
  • The Instructional Coaching MegaPack (sent via email)
  • The Start-Up Guide to Instructional Coaching (sent via email)
In addition to this, with every new post, you'll have the chance to enter a Rafflecopter Giveaway to be one of five people to win a digital giveaway: my new ebook, The Start-Up Guide to Instructional Coaching, and my Instructional Coaching MegaPack Binder! Over $40.00 worth of products!

To enter this contest, follow the rafflecopter directions below. You can add new entries with each blog post that comes out in the Next Steps in Instructional Coaching Series!

All entries will be tabulated by Tuesday, August 15, and the big winner and 5 digital giveaway winners will be announced!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Chrissy-Beltran/Category/Instructional-Coaching-255584
 
Sign up for an instructional coaching freebie in your inbox!  
 
 
 
 
 
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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Growing Leadership through Teacher Modeling: Part Three of the "Next Steps in Instructional Coaching" series

What’s better than seeing a teacher in action? Nothing! But as teachers, we tend to be stuck in our classrooms with very few opportunities to see what happens across the school, in other classrooms. 

One way to grow teacher leadership is to have teachers host others in their classrooms.

Some people feel very self-conscious about having classroom guests, but if you set it up properly, you can get a lot of mileage out of teacher-to-teacher modeling.

This is how I approach it:

Teacher A needs support in the area of making inferences. Maybe I noticed it, or maybe she asked for the help.

I talk to Teacher B, who is strong in teaching this concept. I state that we have a teacher who would like to learn more about this concept, and that Teacher B is doing a great job of helping her students acquire this strategy. Could we set up a time for Teacher A to come visit and get some ideas?

I’ve never had a Teacher B say no when approached this way.

I talk to Teacher A and explain that Teacher B is doing some great work that Teacher A might like to see. I find coverage for Teacher A’s classroom, or we set a time during Teacher A’s PE or other specials block so she can go visit. (Most Teacher Bs are pretty flexible when it comes to rearranging their schedule to accommodate a colleague who needs some help.)

Teacher A visits Teacher B’s class and takes notes. I have a post-conference with Teacher A to ensure that the learning took place.

I also follow up with Teacher B to thank her and ask how it went. Teacher B has now been empowered as a knowledge base on campus. Teacher A will remember her and know she is a valuable resource.

Sometimes, Teacher B will even allow herself to be recorded. This is especially great, because I can send out the video to other interested teachers who can learn from their colleagues whenever they have the time!
 
Check out the other posts in the Next Steps series!
Tuesday, August 1: Working with Data: What to collect and why to collect it
Saturday, August 5:  Facilitating a Data PLC: How to get people thinking
Tuesday, August 8: Growing Leadership in Teachers: teacher modeling
Saturday, August 12: Hosting a Teacher Conference

And on top of it, I'm going to host another BIG giveaway!

One lucky duck will win my Instructional Coaching Must-Haves Kit, an over $120 value!

Included in this kit: 
  • Desk inbox tray (gonna be full before you know it)
  • My favorite notebook (Bendable)
  • My favorite calendar (Week-at-a-glance)
  • The best erasable pens out there
  • Flair pens (for pretty colors)
  • A mug (Necessary for coaching)
  • Thank you cards (gotta appreciate your people)
  • A notepad cube (for notes)
  • A variety of post-it flags & labels (Fancy)
  • The Instructional Coaching MegaPack (sent via email)
  • The Start-Up Guide to Instructional Coaching (sent via email)
In addition to this, with every new post, you'll have the chance to enter a Rafflecopter Giveaway to be one of five people to win a digital giveaway: my new ebook, The Start-Up Guide to Instructional Coaching, and my Instructional Coaching MegaPack Binder! Over $40.00 worth of products!

To enter this contest, follow the rafflecopter directions below. You can add new entries with each blog post that comes out in the Next Steps in Instructional Coaching Series!

All entries will be tabulated by Tuesday, August 15, and the big winner and 5 digital giveaway winners will be announced!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Chrissy-Beltran/Category/Instructional-Coaching-255584
 
Sign up for an instructional coaching freebie in your inbox!  
 
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Saturday, August 5, 2017

Facilitating a Data PLC: Part Two of the "Next Steps in Instructional Coaching" series

So now you've got data. What do you do with it?
You PLC! 

A PLC is a professional learning community. This is a group of faculty who meet for a specific purpose - not to complain (although a little of that does sometimes happen) or to eat snacks (although snack-eating can facilitate an effective PLC!) but to actually figure stuff out. 

To communicate ideas and thinking, and arrive at some sort of decision. This could be a plan of attack, lesson plans, a strategy to implement, or some learning to do.

A Data PLC happens when you have some data and you need to look at it as a group and make some observations and decisions about it!

In order to have an effective Data PLC, I recommend starting with my post about collecting data with purpose. Then, look at the next four tips to structure your PLC.

1. Data is only relevant for a short time.

I've known some teachers who give a test on February 12 and don't review it until March, because they were busy or they forgot. Honestly, by the time March rolls around, you may as well just give up on that test. It's forgotten. Kids don't remember what they were thinking, why they chose what they chose, or sometimes, even taking the test. Data must be current.

If you're looking at assessment data with a group of teachers, it really needs to be done within the week - ideally within about three days or so. This doesn't always happen in the real world, but it's a good goal: schedule your data plc within a few days of your assessment. 

This is much easier if you have common assessments with a date the grade level plans on giving the test. You can schedule your data meeting to follow the test date, so everyone knows what to expect. 
Make sure you have enough time to actually prepare the data, though. You don't want to arrive at a meeting empty-handed! If you've decided that teachers will bring their own data, make sure that they have enough time to prepare it and know what they're being asked to bring, and in what format.

2. Have your questions prepared ahead of time.

Have a plan to facilitate this meeting. If you get there and say, "So how'd we do?" you're opening the
door to complaints, excuses, and personal celebrations - all of which are sure to bother one person or another, and will not be very productive. Instead, have a set of questions to guide the conversation. 

One approach I've used is to provide each teacher with a form to fill out about his/her own data. They take a few minutes to do this, and then I use some guiding questions for us to discuss. Sometimes, having written about their own thinking first empowers people to share their thinking aloud.

Some good questions to have people think about, in order, include:

  • Where were students successful?
  • In what ways did you teach this concept?
  • Where did students struggle?
  • In what ways did you teach this concept
  • Do we notice any patterns?
Then, you get down to business:

3. Drill down to the "why".
The conversation will invariably start with noticing where students did well and where students didn't. If that's where the conversation stops, you still haven't reached an understand of what happened on this assessment. 

Move into the "why" questions.
This is a BIG one:

Did they use what they've been taught or did they guess? Honestly, if we're analyzing data, let's make sure that it actually represents what students can do. If a student just circled answers, why are we going to invest in figuring out why? They don't know why, either! Data has to be meaningful to be useful.

I recommend having teachers bring a few samples of student work so you can actually look at it together and see what students actually did when the going got rough.

Here are other good questions to discuss. You can either choose a few to focus on, or you can see where the data takes you!
  • Did students know how to approach this question?  Did they have a strategy or a thought process to help them when they got stuck?
  • Why do you think students struggled more with "x" than with "y"?
  • Was there an issue with the way the questions were worded?
  • What thought processes were required of students to respond to that question?
  • Is there a vocabulary issue? Were there terms that made it difficult for students to access their learning?
  • Were the answer choices/response modes confusing? Why?
  • Which wrong answer did students choose the most? Why?
Discuss these as a team, and draw some conclusions about the teaching and learning that went on there.

4. Get to next steps.

So now what? We know kids didn't know what to do when the question said "infer' but they did know what to do when the question said "reader can tell." They didn't know what strategies to use to figure out context clues questions, and they have misconceptions about summarizing.

And then? Make a plan. Sometimes, you run out of time in a meeting. But really, this is essential. All
the data conversations in the world are useless if you don't figure out what to do next. 

What needs to be retaught, what needs to be practiced, and what needs to be introduced? Which strategies might you teach, if students didn't have one that was successful for them? When will this be done - whole group? Small group? Which students?

Tip: If over 70% of the class didn't get it, it's the whole-group lesson teaching. Teachers may need to do some new learning to figure out how to teach this skill/strategy in a different way.

If it's small groups of kids, try a reteach in small group with those students. You could reteach the same way, if they just need more practice, or in a different way if you found something more simple.
 
Over the next few weeks, I'm going to share with you some important information about these topics:

Tuesday, August 1: Working with Data: What to collect and why to collect it
Saturday, August 5:  Facilitating a Data PLC: How to get people thinking
Tuesday, August 8: Growing Leadership in Teachers: teacher modeling
Saturday, August 12: Hosting a Teacher Conference

And on top of it, I'm going to host another BIG giveaway!

One lucky duck will win my Instructional Coaching Must-Haves Kit, an over $120 value!

Included in this kit: 
  • Desk inbox tray (gonna be full before you know it)
  • My favorite notebook (Bendable)
  • My favorite calendar (Week-at-a-glance)
  • The best erasable pens out there
  • Flair pens (for pretty colors)
  • A mug (Necessary for coaching)
  • Thank you cards (gotta appreciate your people)
  • A notepad cube (for notes)
  • A variety of post-it flags & labels (Fancy)
  • The Instructional Coaching MegaPack (sent via email)
  • The Start-Up Guide to Instructional Coaching (sent via email)
In addition to this, with every new post, you'll have the chance to enter a Rafflecopter Giveaway to be one of five people to win a digital giveaway: my new ebook, The Start-Up Guide to Instructional Coaching, and my Instructional Coaching MegaPack Binder! Over $40.00 worth of products!

To enter this contest, follow the rafflecopter directions below. You can add new entries with each blog post that comes out in the Next Steps in Instructional Coaching Series!

All entries will be tabulated by Tuesday, August 15, and the big winner and 5 digital giveaway winners will be announced!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Chrissy-Beltran/Category/Instructional-Coaching-255584
 


Sign up for an instructional coaching freebie in your inbox!  
 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Getting started with data: Part One of the "Next Steps in Instructional Coaching" series

Yes, I know. Data, data, data. 

Yuck.

Some people love data; most people - not so much. But that's ok. With a purposeful approach to looking at data, even the most reluctant dataphobe will find some value and walk away with something useful to think about.

One important note: Students are not numbers. Looking at data, while a necessary part of the job, is not more important than getting to know your students as people and learners. That being said, looking at data might illuminate some patterns!
Here are four questions to help you get started in collecting data:

1. Why are you collecting data?

If you're collecting data to pat yourself on the back or to guilt teachers into something, don't collect data. There's no purpose.

Some good reasons to look at data:
  • To see what worked
  • To see what didn't work
  • To think about next steps
That's about it. When you look at data, you want to dig deep enough to figure out why the data says what it does. Thinking about your reason for collecting data n the first place can help you figure out the next big question.

2. What data do you plan to collect? 

The world's your oyster! Data can be anything: guided reading levels, overall reading assessment
scores, performance on individual standards, percentage of students successful on any given task or assessment, or records pulled from online programs such as iStation, Education Galaxy, or the other 8 million options out there.

In order to figure out what to collect, go back to your reason for collecting data. If your purpose is to figure out what adjustments to make to guided reading, try collecting guided reading data such as reading levels and running record scores.


If your purpose is to adjust reading lessons, you might collect performance percentages on individual standards from a recent assessment. That will help you reflect on how you taught those specific standards and you can decide if adjustments are needed.

This bar graph reflects how students performed on the main standards assessed in this unit, in English and in Spanish (that's why there are two colors)


3. Who is doing the collecting?
Who will be responsible for actually collecting and representing the data? Will your teachers have to do it (can be more effective and realistic in some situations) or will you create it for them? Do you have any software (such as Eduphoria: Aware) that can automatize this for you, or will you need to do it by hand? 

For guided reading levels, for example, teachers at my school collected those individually using the Instructional Coaching Binder MegaPack.

But after an assessment, I used our software to collect and organize the data by grade level, teacher, and individual student. Much of this was automated and so the process was reasonable for me to complete in a short time frame.

4. How will you present the data?

There are so many different ways to present the data you've collected. In order to actually be useful, consider a few things:




  • Keep it simple. If it's too busy, the eye and the brain fail to communicate effectively. If your teachers go cross-eyed when they look at your charts, they're probably not having the best conversations. You might have to make some decisions about what elements are essential to look at and what you can do without.
  • Color helps. To a degree. If you color-code a few basic elements, that can help the data stand out in your view. However, if you have a 17-point color system, that's probably a little too overwhelming. Stick to 3-4 colors.
  • Format matters. Table? Bar graph? Pie? Again, choose the most simple and visual way to convey the information. Do you want a pie graph for every single standard of a 22 standard test? Nope. Do you want a table with 36 columns and 18 rows? Nope. Convey the least information necessary with the most detail possible. And keep the font big enough to read without a microscope.
  • Labels are necessary. If I can see that on my standard 4.2B, 48% of my students did well, and the remainder struggled, it's probably important to know what 4.2B actually represents. So label anything that's not clear. It'll help when you facilitate your data PLCs.
  • This chart on the left, for example, included all the data required for data review. But it is incredibly overwhelming! It's so much information that it's hard to even notice anything. It has data for each teacher on a variety of skills and strategies, and in some cases (the pink numbers) in more than one language. That's a lot to take in!


    This chart represents less information, but it's a little more readable. However, it's a grade level overview, which may or may not be helpful, depending on your purpose.


     This chart shows data by teacher, but rather than noting each standard, it's an overview of the test and how many students passed. This is a different kind of data. To use something like this effectively, you probably need to ensure that each teacher has his/her own standards- or item-based data. If not, it's impossible to tell what you're looking at!


    This is only the first post in a series of posts about looking at data. But it includes some important questions to think about!

    For my next post, read about what to do with all that data you've collected!

    Over the next few weeks, I'm going to share with you some important information about these topics:

    Tuesday, August 1: Working with Data: What to collect and why to collect it
    Saturday, August 5:  Facilitating a Data PLC: How to get people thinking
    Tuesday, August 8: Growing Leadership in Teachers: teacher modeling
    Saturday, August 12: Hosting a Teacher Conference

    And on top of it, I'm going to host another BIG giveaway!

    One lucky duck will win my Instructional Coaching Must-Haves Kit, an over $120 value!

    Included in this kit: 
    • Desk inbox tray (gonna be full before you know it)
    • My favorite notebook (Bendable)
    • My favorite calendar (Week-at-a-glance)
    • The best erasable pens out there
    • Flair pens (for pretty colors)
    • A mug (Necessary for coaching)
    • Thank you cards (gotta appreciate your people)
    • A notepad cube (for notes)
    • A variety of post-it flags & labels (Fancy)
    • The Instructional Coaching MegaPack (sent via email)
    • The Start-Up Guide to Instructional Coaching (sent via email)
    In addition to this, with every new post, you'll have the chance to enter a Rafflecopter Giveaway to be one of five people to win a digital giveaway: my new ebook, The Start-Up Guide to Instructional Coaching, and my Instructional Coaching MegaPack Binder! Over $40.00 worth of products!

    To enter this contest, follow the rafflecopter directions below. You can add new entries with each blog post that comes out in the Next Steps in Instructional Coaching Series!

    All entries will be tabulated by Tuesday, August 15, and the big winner and 5 digital giveaway winners will be announced!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Sign up for an instructional coaching freebie in your inbox!  
     
     
    Pin It