Over the past few weeks I have been thinking about the concept of practice. Practice is essential in every field of study. Practice is most effective when it has meaning, modeling, and monitoring. This means when we assign our students opportunities to practice, there must be some sense and meaning to that practice, some "why" to the work they are doing. There must also be strong models to show students what success looks like. And there must be monitoring, or checking in with students, so that corrective feedback can be given as needed in a timely manner.
Today, I want to focus in on the modeling. Many of us are familiar with the "think aloud" concept, and use it regularly to demonstrate what should be happening inside their minds when doing the work they do. But today I bring up another type of modeling that you may want to add to your repertoire. That is silent modeling. Michael Linsen recently wrote a blog post on this topic called Why Silent Modeling is a Powerful Strategy. In it, he discusses the power of modeling for students without the "think aloud" or talking portion there to distract from the actual act. Of modeling, Linsen writes, "They [teachers] gloss over details. They rush through important steps. They cut short what should be a thorough and engaging process.They also tend to talk too much, adding information that only distract students from learning."
As I think back on some of the "think alouds" I've done in my teaching, I can name times when I've been guilty of all of the above. Linsen provides a possible solution to some of our modeling woes, and that is silent modeling. When done effectively and for appropriate tasks, silent modeling can enhance your instruction in the following ways:
On a related note...
15 Easy Book Character Halloween Costumes for Teachers - Check out this page for some quick ideas for Halloween that don't involve too much distraction or time tracking items down.
Halloween Classics - If you're looking for some good Halloween-themed literature to read and discuss with your class, be sure to check out this page. There are several classic Halloween stories listed with some suggestions for how you can use them with your class. Warning: probably best used in upper elementary.
Halloween: Characters Dressed as Characters - This is a fun Halloween-themed activity that involves some out-side-the-box character analysis. The premise is, you take a character from a story you are reading and explain what they would dress up as on Halloween. The students then back up their ideas by analyzing the traits of the character. They would site evidence from the text (what the character says and does) to justify their reason. This sounds like a fun way to get kids thinking about characters.
As educators, you know that learning doesn't start and stop at you classroom doors. You know that the other adults in your students lives matter. You know that these people need to be included in the education of their children. It is so important to acknowledge the influencers in your students' lives and view them as allies to the work you do every day. Conferences is one place where you have the opportunity to team up with student influencers. This is an opportunity not only to report how the students are progressing in your classrooms, but also to educate and empower parents to support the work their children are doing in school.
In this post, I have shared some resources that might support your outreach to parents during this valuable time. When planning for and conducting your conferences, keep in mind the following, "The Myth of the Culture of Poverty", that came from Reaching and Teaching Students in Poverty by Paul Gorsky. Remember to be compassionate and provide access to the wonderful information you have to all parents. As teachers, you are not only a powerful educating force to your students, but to their families as well.
Resources for Parents
Feel free to add a comment at the end of this post and share any other documents you send home with parents!
Other Report Card and Conference Resources
Effective Report Card Comments - Here is a link to Jaime Bell's page. There are several great tips for writing digestible, effective comments on the report cards.
Tips for Parent-Teacher Conferencing - I'm sharing this link again. There are some great reminders for conferencing with parents. I find the first tip, approach parents with positive assumptions, to be so valuable.
Student-Led Conferences - This link was on last week's post, but I thought I'd put it here again, too. If you do student-led conferences in your room, there are some great resources here. If you would like more information about student-led conferences, I can support you in this. I have always done conferences this way and have found it to be an empowering experience for students. They are accountable for their own learning and for reporting on that learning in this model.
After last week's post I heard from several of you that you were happy to have a quick easy overview of guided reading. Several people also told me they were glad to have some new examples of templates for planning and access to Jan Richardson's guided reading website. Here I share a few videos that might give you another glimpse at what guided reading can look like. Enjoy.
Check out Guided Reading with Jenna: Overview - This is an overview of guided reading in a 5th grade classroom. It also includes discussion of what other students are doing while the teacher is working with the guided reading group. I encourage you to peruse the other videos on the site that feature this teacher, too.
This first video is a 5 minute clip of Jan Richardson introducing a text to an early phase group of students in a 2nd grade class. Notice how they preview the book and she makes sure some important vocabulary is taught up front. At the end of the preview she says, "Ok, now we are going to read to find out."
This next video is a 9 minute clip of Jan Richardson checking with her readers on where they put their flag. The purpose for reading must have been to find a very important part (VIP) in the book and flag it. She then listens to them read and prompts them for fluency. Notice how she rotates through each student, discusses, listens, prompts, and gives them a goal - something they should continue to do - all in 9 minutes!
On a related note...
Jan Richardson Videos - Follow this link for more of Jan Richardson's videos.
Conference Time: Chatting with Parents - Conferences are just around the corner. This post has just a few tips to keep in mind when preparing for and engaging in those discussions with your students' parents.
Student-Led Conferences - This blog post has some helpful resources if you do student-led conferences.
Now that it is October and much of our baseline data has been collected, it's really time to start digging in and getting to work with our students. One way you'll start to tackle these goals is through guided reading. Here you'll find a quick overview of guided reading followed by links to many helpful documents and resources.
What is Guided Reading?
Guided reading is an instructional practice wherein the teacher works with a small group of students who display similar reading behaviors and can access similarly leveled texts. The text used during this time should be at the students' instructional level. Texts should be chosen that are easy enough for students to access with the support of the teacher, but challenging enough to expand the students' reading ability.
What is the procedure?
What are the other students doing at this time?
The rest of the class can be independently reading and practicing skills and strategies modeled during whole-class mini-lessons or taught during their guided reading sessions. Students can also be working on the goals they've set for their reading. Alternatively, students can be engaged in Daily 5 or CAFE activities. Either way, it should be an independent time where there are no interruptions. You need to be able to completely focus on working with the guided reading group.
Check out these sample reading workshop schedules for more ideas on how to set up your reading block:
On a Related Note...
Lesson Plan Templates - Here are templates for all of the categories of readers you may have in your class including Emergent, Early, Transitional, and Fluent..
Tips For Managing Guided Reading - Check out this document for some easy and useful tips for managing Guided Reading with a large class.
Discussion Prompts - Use this document to develop questions for use during the discussion portion of your guided reading. They are organized by reading strategy (visualization, making connections, etc.).
Bell Bytes - Guided Reading - Check out Jaime Bell's great site for more guided reading resources.
Guided Reading vs. Strategy Groups - This document lists the differences between two types of small groups. Check it out to make sure you are indeed doing Guided Reading and not Strategy Groups.
Dr. Jan Richardson's Resource Page - There is a plethora of resources you can put to use in your guided reading practice on this page. I recommend checking out the Lesson Plan folder and the Schedule folder.
I am an elementary instructional coach for the Sioux Falls School District.