Friday, January 27, 2012

I've discovered something recently...that no matter what school I'm at, which team I'm on or how little or how much professional development my district provides, I am in charge of my own learning and growth as a teacher. It's so funny it's taken me this long to really realize this, because I tell my kids this all the time.

Now I've been very fortunate - I talk about how I "grew up," as a teacher, in the best collaborative school communities. There was rich dialogue and reflective thinking. I had the best mentors. But I was unaware of this larger educational learning community. Now that I've become a literacy coach, possibly to become an instructional coach, I've become aware of this community and have benefited greatly from it! I've just recently been exposed to the wonders of social networking and how it can help us move forward in our craft of teaching. I've just started posting, tweeting, pinning and now blogging. I have been following some amazing blogs like Creative Literacy, AM Literacy Learning Log, Literacy Lives and many more. These have been my mentors for this work.

My hope is that this would be another opportunity where we can "keep the conversation going" and learn and grow together. I think, no I know, we don't get to deeper thinking in just one post. We need to push ourselves by asking, "What do you mean by that?" or saying, "Tell me more about that." And know that our thinking doesn't have to be perfect the first go around. I have to tell you I've been somewhat nervous about all this posting business because I feel like I have to have something really smart to say. Know that here in this blog there may be times that I say something dumb or that you disagree with, but I trust in the process of dialogue and reflection, that I will grow in my thinking and I hope this is a place where you are able to do that too.

So to get started, I've been wondering lately about small groups in reading, writing and math. Maybe that will be a good first focus. Something I read in Regie Routman's, Reading Essentials, was how once students are fluent readers, they should no longer be in homogeneous groups. Wow! I started to think about this more and thought about how I did reading groups, they were homogeneous by guided reading levels. It also made me think about the flexible grouping we heard about in the '90s. I thought, "I'm flexible - if a student can read higher than my "D" group, I'll move him to the next group. I don't think that's what the research was talking about. I think it meant that we need to group students by strategy rather than level. Teach the reader not the book. So if we are teaching a particular skill or strategy and we notice students struggling in similar ways, especially as we're conferring, we pull them together - strategy groups or small group conferences. I like the term "small group conferences" because it keeps the emphasis on conferring and it's just a more efficient way to confer rather than saying the same thing three or four times. I think conferring got lost when we shifted to "guided reading." I'm wondering is guided reading being overused, especially in the intermediate grades???

I'm curious...what do others think about this and how is this playing out in our classrooms?

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