Teacher question: I teach fourth-grade social studies at my school and I have an ongoing argument with our reading coach. Perhaps you can help me. She says that the way I teach is bad, but it works, and I see no reason to change. My students take turns reading paragraphs aloud and when each one finishes then I ask them questions or explain what the book said. I like it...
July 30, 2019
January 30, 2019
If you were teaching second-grade what would your schedule look like?
This question — in various forms — came up a lot this week in response to last week’s posting. Here is my thinking on this.
I start from the premise that I want kids to get between 120-180 minutes per day of reading...
May 14, 2018
I was curious what your thoughts are regarding small group instruction in Elementary school during the ELA block. I’m unaware of any definitive research on the effect size of small group instruction or the impact it has regarding student achievement in reading. There seems to be a few different schools of thought: direct whole group instruction...
March 31, 2018
In most instances, educators will be using assessment data and classroom observations to create flexible groupings in the classroom. Other times, however, teachers may want to group or pair students randomly. This type of grouping works well for many different types of lessons including community-building activities, idea sharing, small-group discussions, or the exploration of materials....
February 28, 2018
In any effective and student-centered classroom, the voices of learners should be heard often; they should be asking and answering questions, sharing ideas, and expressing their thoughts. Some students, however, struggle to engage in some or all of these behaviors. They may need models for asking appropriate questions or adding relevant comments.
This “Off the Page” selection will...
January 23, 2018
I am a reading coordinator. We are in our first year of implementing a new reading program. As we have rolled out the new curriculum, we've been explicit about the reading instructional practices and routines that we expect to see used each day. We’ve had lots of PD. How else are we going to know the impact that the series has on our achievement...
January 9, 2018
Happy New Year!
I had a lot of great feedback about this post in the last few years, so I am sharing it again to kick off 2018. I hope it will help you meet your inclusion-related goals as you get back to work this week.
Those that know me well, know that I love goal setting. I love teaching it to students and I love using it as a tool in my consulting. I also love using it in...
December 12, 2017
What if I told you it was possible to make some (if not most) of your students feel more comfortable by just adopting a few EASY strategies each day, week, and month? What if I told you these strategies would not cost a thing and would also help you — as the teacher get a bit more organized? What if I told you these strategies could also help students learn new skills? Are you intrigued...
November 14, 2017
It’s November and, therefore, it’s time for a new episode of “Off the Page.” In this segment, I am sharing a goal setting tool from 30 Days to the Co-Taught Classroom. Don’t skip this one if you don’t co-teach, though! This strategy is a smart one and can work well for any collaborative team big or small.
June 1, 2017
Our district is exploring and embracing Personalized Learning. We have a committee that has been going to professional development all year and a small group that is trying this out in their classrooms. Next year another group of teachers will be brought on to implement personalized learning and mentor under those trying it this year.
February 29, 2016
I was making a presentation about how to raise reading achievement. I was taking my audience through research on what needed to be taught and how it needed to be taught if kids were to do as well as possible. I was telling about my experiences as director of reading of the Chicago Public Schools at a time when my teachers raised reading achievement.
When I finished, a teacher approached...
January 4, 2016
There is no single best way to grow professionally. Here are some "finds" that educators and related services personnel can add to their professional development toolkit.1. Reading for All
December 8, 2015
June 22, 2015
Recently, I wrote about the quandary of grouping. Small group instruction supports greater student engagement, higher amounts of interaction, greater opportunity for teacher observation, and more student learning. However, the benefits of small group are balanced by the relative ineffectiveness of most seatwork activities. Subtracting the downside of working on one's own away from the teacher...
March 21, 2013
Yes, the old Kool and the Gang song rings true — even for state testing! One of the things I feel very successful about as an upper grade teacher is my ability to kill test anxiety! Even though this doesn't have too much to do with Common Core tactics and struggles, I find that anything that lightens the testing mood always helps every classroom!
On our "Team" we always see testing as a...
September 7, 2012
As teachers, we know that a disruptive child can change a classroom environment. When a child is acting out, the teacher has to spend time redirecting that child, and then refocus the lesson for all students. Over the course of a day, interruptions from a disruptive child (i.e., a child with low self-regulation skills) really wear on a teacher and students. But does it have lasting effects on...
August 24, 2012
As the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression! I thought it might be fun to show some pictures of back-to-school classroom doors. Please check out our Pinterest board to see some great ones. If you have a picture of your own door to share, please let us know by...
February 1, 2012
Do you ever hear this complaint? Kids know which teacher gives the most homework AND which teacher gives almost no homework at all. I think there are two issues here: how much homework is good? And should teachers at the same grade level give the same amount of homework?
January 19, 2012
Teachers often have a specific theme or content they want to cover, but have a wide range of reading levels in their classroom. One way to handle that situation is to have many books on that one theme, but the books are written at different reading levels. These are often called text sets. I wrote here about a text set on...