Hi friends! This blog is for teachers and families- all for the sheer joy of literacy. When we are enthusiastic about reading and writing our students and our own kids become excited to read and write. I hope that we all can be models for those in our care- how did you show your passion for reading, writing, learning, language, or words today?? It's in those small, daily moments that we teach kids to love literacy.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

More from Anita Archer: Instructional Routines

Every fall I marvel at the amount of time, intentionality, and precision that the teachers at my school put into developing masterful instructional routines. My whole-class (versus small group) teaching experience comes from middle school, and while instructional routines are truly important at every grade level, elementary students tend to be completely (and obviously) lost without clearly defined instructional routines. The teachers at my school know through and through that the ability to teach your students well starts every year with the development of their instructional routines.

At the CORE conference this spring I took mad notes during all my sessions with Anita Archer, intending to immediately share my takeaways with the blogosphere. And over a month later...I'm finally following though. Unfortunately, those notes I was madly taking seem a bit cryptic and unorganized, but I will try my best to extract the jewels from Anita's talks for you all. She's written a new book, Explicit Instruction, where she talks about the importance of instructional routines and explicit instruction.

#1 Lessons/Instructional Routines should keep a perky pace
  • With "perky pace" the teaching is upbeat and moves swiftly. For one, when the teacher keeps his/her pace perky it means they know the material. He/she has internalized the instructional practices and they have it become second nature.  How do you get to this place with your instructional practices? You have to know the steps of the lesson in and out. This takes planning, and it takes doing. The more you practice your instructional routines, the perkier you become! And that's why seasoned teachers tend to be better teachers (but not always!!!)- they can move swiftly through the material, because they know the material. Also, if you're moving quicker through the material, you are able to cover more ground- and the kids will probably end up learning more.

#2 Instructional Routines should be SYSTEMATIC
  • Systematic instruction means that you're focused on critical content:
    • skills
    • strategies
    • vocabulary terms
    • concepts
    • rules
  • Systematic Instruction is sequenced logically
    • easier skills before harder skills
    • high frequency skills before low frequency skills
    • prerequisites are taught first
    • similar skills are separated
  • With systematic instruction complex skills need to be broken down

#3 Lessons are organized and focused
  • You have an opening to your lesson
    • getting student's attention/hooking them into the lesson
    • review of lesson's past
    • preview of what's to come
  • Your lesson has a body
    • this is the heart of the lesson, your modeling
  • Your lesson has a closing
    • Review of the lesson taught
    • preview of what will be learned next

#4 Your lessons use Instructional Routines
This way students will be able to focus solely on the content, and not of the task.
  • Do you use the method of gradual release? 
    • Model.     (aka- I do it.  My turn.)
    • Prompt.    (aka- We do it.  Together.)
    • Check.     (aka- You do it.  Your turn.)
  • Do you have instructional routines for teaching everything from phonics to vocabulary small reading groups to behavior expectations, etc...?

#5 Your instruction is relentless (and engaging)!
  • You teach to mastery
  • You monitor student performance
  • You give immediate affirmative and corrective feedback
  • You use distributed practice (not mass practice) with cumulative review
  • Some children may require 10-30x as much practice opportunities as their peers

So Anita Archer has some good ideas, especially for those new to teaching, or for more experienced teachers, especially if you want to brush up your skills. If my bullet points didn't do it for you, get her book-- I'm sure it is much better than quick notes from a fabulous talk she gave.

Read On! Teach On! 

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