Last week I introduced you to N on March 8 and March 9. We’re hyper focused on helping this 5th grader (recent move in) literally get moving in writing. He wants to write. He listens. He participates. He talks. He uses all the language. His first on demand was rated at a kindergarten level in November and our goal is a third grade level by the end of May. But he writes so little each day that it is hard to verify real writing growth.
Approximately 50 days to make that growth . . . we have ambitious goals!
How do you make decisions about changing instruction? Or Practice? Or Allocation of Time?
I like to think organically. I use my friend Lynn’s quote often.
“I’m old. I forget because my brain leaks.” (Lynn Selking, personal conversations)
So I like to start simply. I’m not adding anything new until I know enough that I’m pretty sure my suggestion(s) will be productive.
So what does that really mean?
First Step: Current State of Instruction
I consider the balance of writing work in the classroom. Is everything in sync?
Mini lessons – 10 minutes or less?
Writing Time – at least 40 minutes during writing workshop?
Mid-Workshop Interruption – daily for 2-3 minutes?
Sharing – daily for 5-6 minutes?
Partnerships – daily talk and working together?
Small groups – planful and executed efficiently?
Conferences – Teach the writer and not the piece of writing?
Other writing opportunities across the day?
What is the role of TALK across the day?
What are students REALLY doing?
All of this is internal data.
First round thinking as we consider current classroom work.
Everything is fairly solid.
Name the current student behaviors with a focus on strengths.
Begin to brainstorm strategic actions to increase intensity of instruction.
With N, our draft looked like this:
- What has a history of working?
- What will maximize N’s writing time?
- What is feasible?
- What is efficient?
- Are there charts/tools that we could pull from previous grades?
At this time, we know that lack of writing instruction in these grades (K, 1, 2, 3, 4, part of 5) may be part of the problem. How can we compress time and increase productivity?
Dependent on what actually works, we have time for three or four focused two-three week cycles of instruction. Beginning with our end goal, we are planning backwards. Planning for lean instruction, lean conferencing, lean teacher work and ways to increase N’s independence in writing. Is it confidence-building that he needs? How can we recircuit his thinking so N has a growth mindset?
What process do you use for problem solving?
How do you use the resources that you have BEFORE looking for outside solutions?
What would you add to this list?
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this daily forum each March. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.