Reading is a must!
When it comes to applicable cross-curricular skills, reading is at the top of the list. Beyond the walls of the school, reading is an absolute necessity for leading a healthy and productive life. While reading and literacy are regularly represented as ELA skills, they permeate every discipline in an important way.
Literacy simply defines the ability to read and write.As content specialists, much of our time is spent trying to make students literate in our area of expertise. Many of us are presenting daily tasks that require students to write about the content area. Math uses practice exercises that require one to read an expression and follow a series of written steps to solve the equation. Thus, a student must be able to read and write using math specific language; this is math literacy. Science is based on research and a desire to investigate the world around us. This research is published and built upon through decades and centuries. Students read and engage in experiments that will prove or disprove a hypothesis; then, students will reflect upon their findings using science terminology. Once again, this is literacy.
The same arguments can be made for every subject area in the building and this is why it is important to consider how teachers are implementing opportunities to read in every content area.
Creating a Meaningful class reading experience
Many classes use current events as a basic reading assignment. Maybe it is time to think about how we can make them more meaningful to students. Reciprocal Teaching is a tried and true group reading strategy to ensure students are reading for understanding and depth.
Teaching these skills can give you A 2:1 effect
It is very possible that a student could define their assigned role and be unable to facilitate the role correctly in this practice. Before you complete a full reciprocal teaching exercise, I would advise the teacher to complete at least one reading through each of the four lenses. In other words, take a class reading and practice summarizing as a group. For the next reading, everyone in the class is going to play the role of the questioner and progress through the reading sections with that mindset. In theory, that would prepare your class to attempt a reciprocal teaching reading for the fifth in class reading.
Why does this matter? Research concludes that Reciprocal Teaching can have a 2:1 effect on student achievement. That is reason enough to try for me. As always, the iCoaches are here to help if you want to learn more about this or other literacy strategies. Email icoachMK@mhrd.org to set up an appointment!
sleep and student performance
Topics of student health continue to come up in meetings, articles, and other discussions for both teachers and administrators. As we continue the dialogue, I would like to share an article I read this week pertaining to sleep and adolescent performance in school.
The school schedule is, and has been, fighting the internal clock of adolescents for decades. As the article below explains, a teen has a natural desire to stay up later and sleep into the morning. Our school start time of 7:30am is 20-30 minutes earlier than the national average and an hour earlier than researchers recommend school to start for students at this age. The NPR article highlights a fairly small study with some telling results. In short, pushing the school day back one hour was a large task for the adult leadership of the school district, but it has led to positive outcomes in attendance, performance, and most importantly, student health. The article it is definitely worth a read.
Considerations for teachers
While modifying the school schedule is not within our mandate, we do have power over the daily structure of our classes. If students are short-slept and not biologically awake at 7:30, it would be smart of us to structure the first half hour to 45 minutes of the block 1 class differently. Beginning with lecture-based direct instruction or homework review might be counterproductive if our population is not altogether ready for that at 7:30. Perhaps we should consider periodically infusing the following structures or strategies to get block 1 started off on the right foot.
In-School Flipped Classroom: Flipping the classroom has been a buzzword for awhile now, but maybe it doesn't need to happen at home. With the wealth of online videos, articles, and other tutorial materials, a 10-15 minute flipped model to start the day might get you closer to that standard 8am start time and prep the learner for the day's instruction.
Self-Assessment and Peer Review: These strategies have proven to statistically improve achievement for learners. By beginning the block with a student assessment of performance, we can refocus the learners to the content and skills that we were building last block. A think-pair-share is a great class starter already; add the assessment piece to get the learners engaged in the revision process at the beginning of class.
Class Discussion: A well-structured class discussion provides a 2 to 1 effect on student achievement. Students might be slow to get started early in the morning, so providing prompts, topics, or videos could be useful.
Facilitate and Provide Feedback: In a more standard class schedule, the teacher may check homework or begin the class by diving right into content. If we take 10-15 minutes at the beginning of class to review, reflect, discuss, assess, and provide feedback to our students, we will have a higher chance of activating prior knowledge, which is very important to the learning process. While the ability to grade and provide feedback for every student's homework is not necessarily feasible, we can zero in on those we know need our input and support. A two-minute conversation with formative feedback about a performance task is engaging for students and should be utilized whenever possible, especially at the beginning of the class.
Hybrid Learning Stations: Learning stations get students up and moving through a variety of tasks and learning groups. I like utilizing this early in the day because sometimes students just need to get the blood moving a bit. Creating a Hybrid Stations Agenda requires preparation, but the teacher gets to facilitate learning in a more individualized manner when students are progressing through the block in smaller groups or pods.
A folder containing the digital materials from today's workshop is listed below. Paper copies are provided for each of the documents, but you can access our Hybrid Agenda and other reference documents through the attached Google Drive folder.
Rockaway PBL Docs Folder
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PBL Session Feedback Form
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