Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Perfect Trifecta for Explicit Instruction in the English Classroom

That title is a mouth-ful, but let me tell you something, it's so true. So if you've read about my Shameful Secret, then you'll know that I've had this long-time pledge to myself to be a better teacher. The kind of teacher who makes kids go whoa.

So let me tell you a little bit about my journey to bring explicit instruction to the English classroom. Those math and science people make me so mad. If they have to put their objective on the board, it is so simple: The student will... [This is back when we used to say "the student will." Now we say "We will..." because Sean Cain says so. Just work with me people.] solve for x in a quadratic equation. The student will balance a system of equations. [I don't even know if that's possible.] The point is...darnit...math and science has clear objectives. Their TEKS are tidy, and TEA might as well just publish them with little check boxes out to the side.

But English?? TEA might as well publish our TEKS and then wrap them up in a tight little ball of yarn. If you want to get to one, then you have to unravel the whole ball. And then it's a huge mess and then you feel like you have to teach everything just so you can say you taught one thing. But then after you roll it back up, you can't remember for sure when, where, or how you taught it. I'm tired just typing about it.

So a long time ago, explicit instruction became my ultimate goal, but I started with small goals. First, I would make sure that every assignment/ project/ task had a clear TEK assigned to it. Check. Second, I would write clear and measurable objectives on the board every single day. Check. [And I don't care what you say, people. Writing your objective on the board (or somewhere) totally matters. I'm not even going to get into it, ok?] And no...having an objective that says, "We will read and analyze..." every single day does NOT cut it. 

Anyway, after I got better at those first two, then it was time to beef up my instruction...the nitty gritty stuff. Enter the Perfect Trifecta for Explicit Instruction in the English Classroom.
  • Interactive Notebooks
  • Visual Dictionaries
  • Shared Reading
You can find all of these in separate posts by either me or my girl, Suzanne. We'll tell you all about them. Each one is equally amazing, but I promise you that if you can grow to the point that you are using all three in tandem, then you too will experience The Perfect Trifecta for Explicit Instruction in the English Classroom.

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