By May Tripp
I had the opportunity to observe a teacher named Kristina teach Reading Workshop as she launched the Super Powers unit with her Kinders. The main reason she had asked me to come was to provide feedback on her instructional practice and to be a thought partner as she continued to navigate teaching from the Reading Units of Study resource. I love that she invited me within her first couple days of teaching, knowing she wanted the opportunity to adjust instruction before she got too comfortable in her ways. I applaud her willingness, as I know how scary it can be to put yourself out there and be observed when you’re trying something new!
Two days prior to the lesson, we had a conversation about what I might see. Of course, we all know lessons don’t always go as planned! As she taught the lesson prior to the one I observed, she realized the kiddos needed more instruction around partner reading beyond what had been given that day. The very next day’s mini-lesson, I observed Kristina intentionally adjusting the focus of the instruction and allowing herself the time to help the students develop those essential reading behaviors. That day, the students started reading workshop with the mini-lesson around echo reading as one way to engage in partner reading. Check out these cuties as they used little green witch fingers to harness their pointer power:
After the lesson, we had time to debrief about the way things went. Kristina began the conversation talking about how she was feeling a lesson behind since she made adjustments and didn’t follow the unit’s plans for the day. As we processed through her sense of rushing through, one of the reminders that helped Kristina was around pacing and allowing yourself the time to slow-down and back-fill, as needed. These kiddos hadn’t engaged in much partner reading yet this year, so she needed to go back and solidify those reading behaviors in order to get to the work reading. Sometimes we get so caught up in the go-go-go mode that we don’t allow ourselves the permission to make a one-day lesson into two, or to be as responsive to their needs day-to-day. Lucy Calkins and her co-authors designed each unit at every grade level with 17-21 lessons and 25-30 days to teach it. The authors ask the teacher to be responsive and adjust the pacing if necessary, as observation and data will dictate throughout the lessons! To finish a unit within a reasonable time however, I do think it’s important to anticipate which lesson(s) or bend(s) your students might need extra time with. The unit overview and table of contents are great tools for this work!
May Tripp has been an elementary teacher for 13 years. She has taught intermediate grades and is currently working for Jeffco Public Schools as an Elementary Literacy Specialist.