Friday, May 20, 2011

PLN: Book Study - Focus, Chapter 3

Chapter 3 is the final chapter in Section I of Focus by Mike Schmoker. Chapter 3 is about how we teach.

Here are some of the insights I gleaned from Chapter 3:
  • The single most important determinant of success for students is the knowledge and skills of that child’s teacher. (Goldberg in Schmoker, p. 51)
  • Lessons should include some basic elements:
    • Clear learning objective
    • Teaching/Modeling/Demonstrating (in small, manageable steps
    • Guided Practice (give students time to work in pairs; teacher circulates)
    • Checks for Understanding/Formative Assessment
  • These last two should occur multiple times during the lesson.
  • Modeling and guided practice should occur at least twice a week in most courses from 2nd – 12th grade. (83)
  • This probably sounds similar to Fischer and Frey’s “gradual release of responsibility” model. (It is similar)
  • “Lessons that include effective use of formative assessment and checks for understanding would add between 6 and 9 months of additional learning growth per year.” (61)
  • Lecture and Literacy Lessons
    • Interactive lecture and direct teaching – students do pair-share, take notes and quick-writes (*note, teacher talks for no more than five minutes before allowing students to process information)
    • Literacy-based lessons – read, talk and write with a focus on any text
  • “If we want students to learn, they need frequent opportunities to talk, write, share, and compare their thoughts.” (72)
  • Template for authentic literacy:
    • Close reading/underlining and annotation of text
    • Discussion of the text (tied to learning goal and supported by the text)
    • Writing about the text informed by close reading, discussion, or annotation

This gets at Schmoker’s point that students should do large amounts of reading and critical analysis in order to defend an argument with textual support. It also puts impetus on the students to take control of their own learning with the gradual release of responsibility to the student. That allows the teacher to check for understanding and continue to model and re-teach as necessary, while focusing on the content.


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