This month’s blog continues the Self-Study Series introduced this summer. In July, we shared Read and Reflect activities designed to support readers’ self-reflection on their practice as they build knowledge of the Content Stages. In this post, Great Minds® implementation leader Kari Schneider shares how teachers can use Wit & Wisdom® materials with the knowledge and skills they learned in July to refine their approach to Content Stages.
When I find a new recipe, I can’t wait to head into my kitchen to try it out. Recently, I read a recipe for chicken tamale pie that sparked my curiosity—and my appetite. The recipe yielded big rewards when I gathered my ingredients and tools to give it a whirl. Learning a new recipe can be messy work, and I often encounter challenges that require problem-solving, but I usually end up with a delicious meal and new skills to apply to future recipes.
Like cooking, learning new teaching skills can get messy. While aiming to strengthen their practice, educators access numerous materials, apply new knowledge, and solve challenges that arise. This work illustrates productive struggle that leads to lasting growth. Just as a recipe provides guidance in the kitchen, curriculum materials support educators as they study Wit & Wisdom and refine new approaches.
Hopefully you uncovered new understandings of the Content Stages in your reading and reflection. The Content Stages provide Wit & Wisdom’s reading framework by engaging students in reading and rereading texts so that they may comprehend and respond to them. As you work with Wit & Wisdom materials and experiment with new approaches, you can refine your instructional practice to support students in strengthening their reading and comprehension of complex texts. Now head for the kitchen and apply what you’ve learned!
Refining Wit & Wisdom’s Reading Framework
Just as you might read a recipe to assemble what you need before starting in the kitchen, following the process below will prepare you for exemplary instruction of the Content Stages. Before you begin, select a Content Stage—maybe one you explored during July’s Read and Reflect post—to refine through preparation, implementation, and observation.
1. Prepare an upcoming lesson for the Content Stage you want to refine. Use the Lesson Study Protocol to build your understanding of what students will do during the lesson and why.
2. Refine the lesson’s Launch. The lesson’s Launch sets the purpose for learning by introducing students to the lesson’s Content Stage and Content Framing Question. Consider how you will make the purpose of the Content Stage more explicit so students can anticipate the lesson’s primary work. In future appearances of the Content Stage, students will have likely internalized the stage and can transfer that understanding to their own reading. In the below video, you’ll learn more about why the Launch section of the lesson is important for student learning and some tips for successfully launching a lesson. Take these actions to refine your delivery of the lesson’s Launch:
- Plan what to say when you introduce the Focusing Question and Content Framing Question. Include an explanation of the work students will do at that Content Stage.
- Consider ways to incorporate a visual aid or movement.
- Practice delivering the lesson’s Launch by yourself or with a teaching partner or coach.
In this video, Kari Schneider explains how a successful Launch sets students up for success. Watch for some tips you can use to strengthen your Launch.
3. Analyze the Learn section for instructional routines, resources, and tasks that support the Content Stage. Students often use common resources and routines such as Story Maps, Anchor Charts, and text-dependent questions to read and reread texts across modules and grade levels. Repeated resources and routines make the Content Stages stick and provide students with strategies for comprehending and responding to complex texts. The following actions can help you maximize the routines, resources, and tasks associated with a lesson’s Content Stage:
- Reread the Learn section and identify the learning tasks students complete.
- Consider how to communicate the task’s purpose and its connection to the Content Stage or Content Framing Question.
- Highlight the instructional routines and resources that will help students succeed with the task.
Cooking Up Successful Content Stage Instruction
Once you’ve prepared by using the preceding process, you can implement. To reflect on how your preparation impacted your instruction, record and rewatch your instruction or work with a teaching partner or coach.
If you work with a colleague or coach, invite them to visit your classroom on the day of the lesson and to collect observational data based on these questions:
- What language did I provide about the Content Stage and its purpose?
- What did students do or say to demonstrate that they understood the Content Stage and its purpose?
- How did I use resources and routines to support Content Stage instruction and student reading?
- How did students use the resources and routines during the lesson?
Reflect on Content Stage instruction by using these questions to discuss with a colleague or coach. You can also make notes for future instruction:
- How did the Content Stage tasks help students deepen their understanding of the text(s) in this lesson?
- What, if anything, would I change about my instruction at this Content Stage?
- How did the resources and routines in this lesson support teaching and learning at the Content Stage in this lesson?
- What, if any, resources and routines might I adjust in the future? Why?
Wit & Wisdom offers robust coaching opportunities that introduce and expand on this process. If you are an instructional coach or school leader interested in more coaching support for your Wit & Wisdom teachers, visit our Personalized Coaching page to learn more about our Coaching Series.
Just as a mouthwatering cookbook picture can inspire someone to get started in the kitchen, I hope new learning about the Content Stages motivates you to dive into Wit & Wisdom materials and refine your Content Stage instruction. This work, like cooking, is often both messy and rewarding.
Hammond, Zaretta. “This Is Your Brain on Culture” in Culturally Responsive Teaching & The Brain (Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, 2015), 36-51.
Willingham, Daniel. “What Will Improve a Student’s Memory?” American Educator, AFT, Winter 2008-09. https://www.aft.org/sites/default/files/willingham_0.pdf
Willis, Judy. “Powerful Classroom Strategies from Neuroscience Research.” Learning and the Brain Workshop, San Diego, 3 Dec 2014. http://www.learningandthebrain.com/documents/WillisHandout.pdf
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Kari Schneider brings a variety of educational experiences from her time in Arizona and North Dakota. Kari has served as a teacher, instructional coach, reading specialist, and site administrator. After two years as a district curriculum director and professional learning facilitator for Wit & Wisdom and Geodes, she currently works for Great Minds as an Implementation Leader to continue supporting literacy and leadership in schools across the Midwest and West Coast.