When Teachers Talk About Instruction

About a month ago, I had the pleasure of participating in a module jurying event with the Literacy Design Collaborative.  What’s module jurying, you ask?  Basically, it’s when teachers and instructional leaders sit and look really closely at curriculum and score it using a rubric.  The rubric looks at whether the ultimate task is meaningful, relevant, and challenging, and whether or not the skills taught and the instructional methods used are closely aligned with that task.

TaskSkillsInstruction

It was amazingly powerful.  Some paraphrased conversations below:

  • Person 1: What does it mean that the skills taught are “tightly aligned” with the task?
  • Person 2: It might mean that they’re customized- you’re not teaching generic literacy skills, but the skills that will be necessary for success with that text, that piece of writing.
  • Person 3: I like to use the word “specific.”

And another conversation…

  • Person 1: Sometimes, as English teachers, we really like to focus on big themes like resilience because it’s interesting and motivating for kids.  But in this case, doing so means losing a focus on the text.
  • Person 2: Yes, you can talk about resilience, but you have to ask what the author is communicating about resilience and how you know.

We’ll have to continue to work to become calibrated in our assessments, and we could probably all agree that the rubric itself isn’t perfect (no rubric ever is).  But the ultimate point, of course, was the rich and powerful conversation we generated.

It made me think about how often I had these conversations as a teacher.  Not very often, truthfully, in the frantic rush of grading and planning.  If I did have a conversation about curriculum, it was often quick- “How are you teaching _______ tomorrow?” “Right, that’s a good idea, let me try that.”

It also made me wonder how we create the space and context for teachers to have more of these conversations.

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Literacy Coach for New Tech Network

Posted in Instruction

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