Friday, July 05, 2013

Summertime: Rest & Relaxation, Reflection & Recommitment

Wendy Sheets, Intermediate Literacy Collaborative Trainer

Summertime…Aaaah! You’ve worked hard all year long and now have time to take a breather. Finding rest and relaxation is important, but we all know that teaching is a way of life. Sure, we may leave the classroom for a time, but summertime is a hiatus that includes reflecting upon the last school year and planning for the next. A new year brings with it a myriad of potential and possibilities. As you enjoy summer vacations, extra time with the family, and catching up on household projects, you might contemplate adding a few of the following suggestions to your list:

Read a Few Novels     Summertime is not all work and no play! Reading novels for pure enjoyment feeds your soul, expands your thinking and your vocabulary, and provides simple satisfaction. I sometimes get so busy that I have to give myself permission to spend time reading a novel. Sound silly? I think so too. You have my permission to indulge. Check the public library, spend an afternoon at the bookstore, or pick up some new finds at yard sales. I’m just finishing “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and am looking forward to beginning the sequels!

Dip Into Old and New Professional Books     I bet your shelves contain numerous professional texts, some of which are your go-to resources. Get them out and peruse the pages with new eyes. I am amazed how my thinking is lifted every time I dig into “Teaching for Comprehending and Fluency,” for example. You can’t go wrong with anything written by Fountas & Pinnell, and there are many other great authors out there as well. Even if you read just one or two new professional texts this summer, your thinking will surely be expanded.

Check Out Educational Blogs     Along with the articles posted on this site (, you’ll find some great ones included on our national website:

Set Goals For the Upcoming School Year    

·         Review plans for establishing Managed Independent Learning (in primary classrooms) or the first 20 days of the Reading Workshop (in intermediate classrooms).

o   What materials will you need to establish independent work?

o   You may dip into “Guiding Readers and Writers” or “Guided Reading” for some great support.

·         Consider your classroom and its physical environment.

o   Do you have areas for whole group, small group, and individualized teaching and learning?

§  Consider materials and resources you may need in each area. An easel with chart paper in the whole-group area will support work during minilessons.

§  A table for guided reading groups will be necessary for meeting the needs of your readers. That same table may be used for pulling occasional guided writing groups. What supplies will you want to have handy?

§  How will you arrange student desks or tables? Be sure to include adequate space for student movement and for easy access to individuals.

o   Is your classroom library organized effectively?

§  Have you provided a wide variety of books in various genres with a balance between fiction and nonfiction?

§  Have you arranged books in baskets with covers facing outward for easy access?

§  Are baskets labeled by genre, author, topic, or series so that students know where to find the books they are seeking?

§  Shop bargain bins, garage sales, library sales, and thrift stores to add to your collection!

·         Think about possibilities for Interactive Read-Aloud

o   Do you have favorite books you will want to read to your students?

o   Expand your repertoire by sharing a wide range of genres, structures, and authors. Choose books that will engage your learners and provide opportunities for constructing meaning.

·         Take an inventory of your systems for organizing your plans.

o   Consider guided reading. Was your organizational system effective? Were you able to document reading behaviors of all of your students in ways that drove further instruction? Did your data include benchmark assessments, running records, and anecdotal information regarding word-solving, fluency, and comprehension?

o   Consider the collection of writing data. Were you able to keep anecdotal records based on observations during writing conferences? How did you use those records?

o   Consider word study. How did you organize developmental spelling assessments and plan for systematic word study?

·         If you are a Literacy Coach, reflect upon your role.

o   How effectively were you able to support teachers through coaching and professional development? What would you like to do differently to increase your effectiveness?

o   How did your data collection support the work you do with teachers?

o   Your Fidelity of Implementation Tool will also be a great guide for you to further examine LC implementation in your building/district.

As you anticipate beginning a new school year, it is my hope that these suggestions have been helpful. Thinking through the possibilities will increase your preparedness for the very important work you do each day as an educator. Enjoy your summer!