Focus by Mike Schmoker is broken into two sections: Section I is about what and how we teach literacy. Section II is about literacy curriculum and instruction in the content areas. When reviewing my notes, I realized that I needed to break it down further.
Here are my notes from the Introduction and Chapter 1:
Many schools/districts adopt various initiatives or pretty, boxed programs with the idea of improving student achievement. This misses the mark altogether. How can we do well with new, shiny initiatives when we don’t have the basics?
Schmoker says the basics are: coherent curriculum (what we teach), sound lessons (how we teach) and authentic literacy (purposeful reading and writing in all content areas)
Focus on what’s essential and ignore the rest. No new initiatives/programs!
Determine priorities and frequently clarify them. This takes real leadership on the part of administrators!
Principals should be instructional leaders who clarify and focus on the core priorities and protect teachers from new initiatives. (My colleagues tell me this isn’t a new thought, but I hadn’t heard it before. I think this is super-important.)