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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Literacy Teacher's Playbook - Chapter 4 Part 1

Welcome to week 5 of our study of The Literacy Teacher's Playbook hosted by A Teacher Mom.

We've talked about collecting data and I want to emphasize that we should be looking for the data we already have - the work our students are doing.  There's no need to create more assessments. We've talked about analyzing their work, looking for common inconsistencies to find what our students really need and to develop goals for support within their areas of strength. And finally, last week we talked about conferencing and setting goals with our students on an individual basis.  Now it's time to create an action plan that answers a few critical questions:
  1. How will I plan for repeated practice?
  2. How will the teaching look over time? Who will be involved? How long will it take?
  3. How will I know when the goal has been met?
Some of you are already thinking SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely) goals. This book fits right into what you already know about SMART goals. The goal you set should be something that is large, overarching and will take weeks to accomplish. Within that goal there are skills that students need to be able to handle. The author defines skills as behaviors, habits and processes that differ from strategies because strategies are procedural how-tos that help you accomplish a skill. Take a look at this chart from page 118 for an example of a goal with the skills and strategies the student will need to accomplish the goal. 

I think it's interesting to note that several skills are included in the goal. I usually set goals that would fall into skills and strategies according to this chart. That's definitely something I will need to rethink. It's comforting to see that the goals are larger and they take more time to accomplish in this model, which means it will be a while before you get back into this collect, analyze, interpret cycle. Obviously you will still be monitoring and assessing progress toward the goal, but that feels doable.

How do you select the exact strategies a student will need to learn? This entire model relies on your expertise as a teacher and selecting the strategies to teach is no different. Every child has different strengths, skills, and weaknesses and there is no list of skills that a child must be able to do to read. Thanks goodness because this is what makes teaching fun and challenging. So the author suggests looking at each goal and child to figure out what they need to learn in order to achieve the goal. But that doesn't mean that she leaves you on your own, oh no, she includes a list of great resources that can help you better understand ways to help your students. 

So now the real task at hand is finding ways and time for a student to have repeated practice using the strategies and skills they need to master, but I'll save that part of the chapter for next week. Thanks for stopping by!

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