Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Thinking About Body Language and Instructional Coaching

On Tuesdays, the writing community at Two Writing Teachers hosts the Slice of Life. Everyone is welcome to join in by writing, commenting, or just reading slices from around the world! 

Throughout the fall, I attended a series of three workshops on instructional coaching. Today was our final session, and one of the topics we studied today had to do with body language. Our presenter is a fabulous facilitator, and she began the discussion with a Tedtalk by Amy Cuddy about how your body language shapes who you are. If you haven't seen this one, I highly recommend it. While power poses may not be the ones we want to reach for during coaching conversations, it was interesting to think about how we use (or don't use) body language.

We went on to watch videos of ourselves having conversations with teachers, but watching the videos with no sound, just watching with the lens of the body language. It was really interesting to think about how we use body language as a tool. I watched myself lean forward, cross my legs, tap my fingers, use my hands for expression? What does it all mean? Maybe not too much, but maybe more than we realize. I don't know that I can change all that I do with my body language, but it does help to think of this as another tool that we have as coaches and facilitators of learning regardless of who we are learning with.

Jessica Kazigian, our facilitator, also shared an on-line article about 10 key concepts about body language. It's an easy read, and I recommend keeping it in your coaching toolkit. :)

Happy Slicing!

Monday, November 16, 2015

It's Monday! Here's What I'm Reading...

Jen Vincent at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye and Ricki Ginsburg at Unleashing Readers cohost It's Monday! What are You Reading? weekly on their blogs.  To see what others are reading and recommending each Monday, or to participate, be sure to head over to these blogs.

I haven't read much, as my writing life has been taking over in combination with my parenting life, but the books I read last week were really good, and really worth sharing.

When Sophie's Feelings Are Hurt by Molly Bang is a wonderful sequel to When Sophie Gets Angry...really, Really Angry. In this book, Sophie paints a picture of her tree, using the colors that she associates more with her feelings than the actual tree. Reading this book aloud could lead to important conversations about not only empathy, but also respect for other people's work and the importance of honoring creative spirits.

I may have to buy I Wish You More by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld for people I love this holiday season. It's short, but full of high impact wishes--such small phrases and sentences and such big sentiment and meaning.

Stacey Shubitz put One Word from Sophia by Jim Averbeck and illustrated by Yasmeen Ismail on my radar a few months ago. It's a fabulous mentor text for opinion writing, as Sophia uses all kinds of persuasive techniques to try to talk her family into a giraffe. Her parents and grandparents teach her about the importance of audience, as well as counterarguments through their responses. As a read-aloud, it could also generate some fun conversations about perseverance and resilience.

Happy reading,

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Even Young Students Can Learn From Videos of Lessons!

On Tuesdays, the writing community at Two Writing Teachers hosts the Slice of Life. Everyone is welcome to join in by writing, commenting, or just reading slices from around the world! 

Whenever I begin a coaching cycle with a teacher, we begin with data and student work. That way, we work together with the mutual goal of student growth. Recently, when I met with a second-grade teacher, she shook her head as we talked about the students who we should target.

"They definitely need help," she said. "But you'll have a hard time working with them because they are pulled for intervention during writing workshop all the time."

Together, we thought about what we could do for these students. After some more conversation, we came up with the idea of videoing minilessons, and letting the students watch them.

Full disclaimer: Second-graders do not watch and learn from a video without a significant amount of coaching into the concept.  It took 4-5 sessions of coaching the students to watch and pay attention to a video. They were all pretty sure that they should sit back and relax as soon as they hit play until I emphasized that they had some specific tasks to do. That being said, today, three of them watched the lesson before they left for their reading intervention, and two of them watched when they came back from it. Their comments? So far so good.

No doubt that the novelty of using the iPad may wear out, and no doubt that these students aren't having the same experience that their classmates are in a whole-group lesson. However, at least there is some access to instruction, and I am developing a growing collection on my Google Drive of three to five minute videos of lessons to accompany units. If second-grade students can be successful with this sort of flipped learning, I am sure that it could work for upper elementary students as well who head off for music lessons in addition to interventions.

Happy writing!