I have always believed, that as an Literacy Interventionist/Specialist, a piece of my work is to plan for and create the best Tier 1 instruction that can possibly be. This year, thanks to our Literacy Coach, Jess, a new structure was created that, with 15 minutes of planning each week, we could ground and document not only our planning, but the growth of children over time. This dedicated planning time has led to coordinated, purposeful teaching.
A few weeks ago, Jen, a first grade teacher walked into my room at 2:18. Her arms were loaded. She was ready. So was I. I had her Guided Reading planning document up on my screen. She opened one of her binders and began to talk about her readers. I listened as she talked about their strengths, their goals, and her own struggles as a teacher trying to meet all their needs.
“George. George. He’s tricky. He can “read” anything but his comprehension isn’t there. And Andrew, he’s the one I’m really concerned about. He’s not reading. He’s distracted during workshop and it shows in his monitoring on his running records.” She pulled out a running record and showed me his miscues.
I nodded my head. I knew exactly what she was talking about. I had been pushing in twice a week for Reader’s Workshop since the beginning of the year. I didn’t see these readers every day, but I knew them.
Jenn and I talked and I planned to meet with both George and Andrew in small groups to help Jen get a handle on not only what we could teach them, but how. Our planning time came to an end with a completed weekly plan that we knew would guide us in our small group work.
The next day, Jen and I found ourselves in the space we had created together teaching our small groups. I was seated at the small square table with George, Charlie, and Emily. Our planned goal was capturing beginning, middle and end in a retell. I introduced a book in the Jasper series. It was a book that I knew, print wise, they could handle confidently. This would leave space for them to focus on the targeted teaching Jen and I had planned together. I shared with them that, when readers finish books. they should be able to think and talk about most important part in the beginning, the middle, and then end. “You all are reading longer books and it’s important to think about and hold onto the important parts.” I gave them each a copy I listened in as each reader whisper read right there at the table. Then, I handed a three post-it’s to each and had them sketch the most important part in the beginning, the middle and the end. I watched and listened as the chatted about their parts. When they were done, they each had a turn touching and telling. This scaffold was just what George needed. First, he listened to Emily and Charlie, who I knew would be models for this work. Then, he was able touch each of his post it’s and express his own thinking, his comprehension.
I wrapped up my group with George, Charlie and Emily by telling them I’d be back on Thursday and we’d get a chance to do this work again, together. “As readers, make sure you are always thinking about the beginning, middle and end.” I said as they scooted back to independent reading.
I stood up from the table, turning to gather my second group and saw Jen on the floor. She was deep in a lesson on blends from the Phonics Small Group book.
As I gathered my bag and books I was wowed at the return on investment Jen and I had got from our planning. I was left thinking that, when we plan together, the conversations that evolve, and the ideas for instruction that emerge, guide us in, not only what to teach, but how to teach…together.