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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Literacy Teacher's Playbook - Chapter 4 Part 2

Welcome to week 6 of our discussion about The Literacy Teacher's Playbook. This book study is being hosted by A Teacher Mom.

This week we are looking into the second part of chapter 4 from pages 123 - 141, which looks at how to plan for practice over time.
"For a student to accomplish a goal, she needs repeated practice with skills and strategies and a decreased level of support over time." (p. 124)
There are so many different instructional formats that will be useful in helping students get repeated practiced. As we plan to meet the needs for repeated practice we need to be aware of the amount of support a student needs. Jennifer Serravallo categorizes many of the most common practices according to the degrees of support they offer. The chart can be found on page 125.  Practicing through mini-lessons, interactive read-alouds and close readings would be giving high levels of support. These are probably the activities that will be useful in teaching a strategy or practicing a skill for the first time. For some repeated practice with a moderate level of support the author suggests using instructional strategies such as shared reading, conferring, guided reading, interactive writing and shared writing.  Interactive writing feels like it tends more toward the high degree of support in my opinion, but I think that would ultimately depend on the goal the student is working on. Activities that give a very low degree of support would include independent reading, partnerships and peer editing.  I think it's really helpful to look at your instructional formats and think about the level of support each gives to a student as you plan to not only for repeated practice, but also for decreasing the level of support.

I know this is probably instinctual for most seasoned teachers, but sometimes the obvious is missing from today's bag of tricks. This past school year I had a small group of students who I felt were struggling with using meaning while trying to figure out a word. I spent about a week trying to come up with how to help them before I thought of using Patricia Cunningham's Guess the Covered Word method. This instructional format wasn't a new idea, just something that I hadn't used in a year or two. I think situations like this illustrate to me the importance of bringing our data, struggles and celebrations to the table with other colleagues. It probably wouldn't have taken a week to come up with a good idea or maybe one of them would have given me other ideas to supplement this strategy.

Now what we really want the most is for the child to move closer to independence with whatever goal we have in mind. This chart from page 126 will help you put this into perspective as you reevaluate instruction and student achievement within a goal.
The biggest takeaway from this portion of chapter 4 is that at the beginning we want to give more support, but as a student comes closer to meeting their goal, we will be gradually releasing more responsibility to the student by decreasing the level of support we give. Next week we will be talking about involving others, planning for multiple students and how to know when a goal has been met as we finish up chapter 4. Thanks for stopping by.

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