Sunday, July 20, 2014

Instructional coaches are a great resource. Here is an article that addresses some of the positive impact they can have. Courtesy of ASCD Smart Brief.

Instructional coaches as wellsprings of innovation
"Instructional coaches, who work closely with classroom teachers to improve their practice, are an important source of school leadership, but teachers often don't know how to capitalize on this relatively new position in education," writes educator Daniel Grejda. In his recent ASCD Express article, Grejda explains how instructional coaches can act as ambassadors for positive change. Read on.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Here is another great collection of articles, etc. from Choice Literacy. They include professional reading for organizing reading workshops. Enjoy!

The Big Fresh Newsletter from Choice Literacy
July 5, 2014 - Issue #389

Cucumber in a Tomato Cage 
A garden requires patient labor and attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them 
                                                         Liberty Hyde Bailey
I have two 4'x8' raised beds in my garden for all of my herbs and vegetables. Tomatoes and basil are non-negotiables, as are chives and parsley and rosemary. This year, on a whim, I bought a cucumber plant for the first time. It was so cute, and the possibility of fresh cucumbers from my own garden made me drool in anticipation. I didn't think through the space issues, though. Cucumbers vine, and I don't have horizontal space in my tiny garden, only vertical space.
So I'm growing a cucumber in a tomato cage, and it's mostly working according to my plan: a large part of the plant is growing the way I want it to grow (up). But I have had to come to terms with the stems that cannot be convinced to stay in the cage and are instead sneaking between the flat leaf and curly parsley and heading across the bed to hang out with the basil.
This cucumber in its tomato cage has me thinking about all of the supports our students need to grow successfully.
We can plan for behavioral supports - a calm, quiet voice, refusal to engage in power plays, alternative spaces to work alone.
We can plan for academic supports - alternative texts, small-group instruction, extra time, and multiple attempts.
We can plan for social supports - careful composition of work groups, time spent with the guidance counselor, informal lunch bunches
Yet invariably, some of our students will need supports that do not come from our toolbox of tried-and-true strategies. For some of our students, we will need to invent the right support for one particular child and for the conditions at hand.
It's this "cucumber in a tomato cage" mentality that I need in my classroom as I support my students in a variety of ways. Most will grow predictably, and will respond to the supports I provide from my toolbox of reliable strategies. But I need to be ready to improvise now and then, creatively supporting a child for the most success possible while relaxing my expectations about the direction of each child's growth.
This week we feature books for launching reading workshops. Plus more as always -- enjoy!
Mary Lee Hahn
Contributor, Choice Literacy

Mary Lee Hahn has been teaching 4th or 5th graders for more than 20 years. She is the author of Reconsidering Read-Aloud (Stenhouse Publishers). Mary Lee and her colleague in the Dublin City Schools, Franki Sibberson, blog about their reading and teaching lives at A Year of Reading.

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Here are two booklists from the archives to help you think through how to launch your reading workshops.
What are the best books for the visual learners in your classroom? Carol Wilcox draws on her experience as a mom to two boys who do not love her "world of words" in coming up with suggestions:
Jan Miller Burkins highlights books for launching the school year with intention, confidence, and community in mind:
Cathy Mere has terrific advice for launching primary reading workshops at her Refine and Reflect blog:
Will you be working with students on the autism spectrum next year? Aaron Lanou explains how you can adapt morning meetings to suit their needs:
Join us in July for a live workshop or online course. We have two online offerings, Text Complexity in Grades 3-5 with Franki Sibberson (July 9-20), and Literacy Coach Jumpstart with Jennifer Allen (July 19-30). Our live event is Coaching the Common Core in Wrentham, Massachusetts July 16-17. For more details on costs and registration, click on this link: