Saturday, January 24, 2015

To group or not to group. Here are some articles to help you reflect. Courtesy of Choice Literacy. Enjoy!

The Big Fresh Newsletter from Choice Literacy
January 24, 2015 - Issue #417

Smile at strangers and you just might change a life.
                                                 Steve Maraboli

On a cold winter day last month I stood at the front door of a local school, fumbling to open it with my arms full of video equipment. It was a quiet morning, with regular classes canceled for parent/teacher conferences. I looked through the glass and saw Alan, the school principal, moving toward me. He gave me a hearty greeting, even though we'd met only once years before. He then grabbed a couple of tripods and ushered me to the classroom where I'd be helping with setup.
Hours later I was walking down the hallway chatting with Jen, the literacy coach. She spied an older man who was stopped in the middle of the hallway, looking confused. Jen immediately excused herself from our conversation and walked over to help the man, who was trying to find his grandson's classroom.
I realized in that moment that the school has a DEARO policy, whether it's official or not. (It's probably not an official policy since I just created that acronym this morning.)  Drop Everything And Reach Out is the attitude of every staff member when they see a visitor who needs help or looks confused.
I thought about another school I visited months before, where most of the students were walked to the school by their immigrant parents from the public housing nearby. I observed dozens of parents outside the school joyfully and tenderly kissing their children goodbye that morning, but none of them stepped over the threshold into the school. The principal explained to me later that day how hard it is to get parents to come into the building. He even makes a point of being at the school door before a parent conference to usher them in, because he knows how difficult it is for many of them to enter.
Most readers of this newsletter are comfortable in schools. We've spent most of our waking and working hours in classrooms since we were five years old. We know the lingo and rituals, and where the staff bathroom is hidden. It's easy to forget how uncomfortable, even threatened, many adults feel by schools. New security measures put in place in the past decade have only increased the anxiety for visitors.  In our rush to get to the next thing, it's tempting to ignore that stranger who looks perplexed in the hallway. The Germans have a phrase for it -- "wie Luft behandeln," which means "to be looked at as though air."
When the whole community is trained to look for that discomfort and alleviate it as quickly as possible, it sends an important message: "We are here for you and your children. This is your place too."  What's your policy for reaching out to unexpected visitors to your school?
This week we look at grouping. Plus more as always -- enjoy!
Brenda Power
Founder, Choice Literacy

Free for All

[For sneak peeks at our upcoming features, quotes and extra links,  follow Choice Literacy on Twitter: @ChoiceLiteracy or Facebook:
Heather Rader asks, How Do We Know Small-Group Instruction Is Effective?:
From the A Year of Reading blog, Franki Sibberson is Planning for Small Group Instruction with a focus on teaching problem and solution:
Mary Ann Reilly gives advice for guided reading with intermediate students:
"Hello Stranger" from the New York Times includes research on the mental health benefits of conversing with new people in everyday situations:

Jennifer Allen's Literacy Coach Jumpstart online course runs February 5-16 and includes three on-demand webinars, the Layered Coaching DVD, Jen's book Becoming a Literacy Leader, and personal response from Jen tailored to your needs on the class discussion board. Choice Literacy and Lead Literacy members receive a $50 discount off the course fee. Click on the link below for more details:
Lead Literacy is our subscription site designed especially for literacy coaches and school leaders. You can sample content at this link:

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