Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Routines That Matter

framed by Lori


In my first few years of teaching, I was a great starter. I had great ideas and I would start them with gusto. But I was not at all a great finisher. Systems and strategies that I would put in place started off with the best of intentions, but I lacked the organization and intentionality to build strong, effective, and lasting routines. So for the rest of this week, I offer you my words of advice on routines that matter and systems that are worth putting into place as a regular component of your instruction. These are three staples of my classroom and are worthy of becoming a rockin' routine.  

Today, we'll look at framing the lesson! 

I'll tell you a little secret about today's topic. Suz used to hate framing, but I think I've slowly and painfully converted her. She now sees the benefit of it and I catch her doing it without my nagging or prodding. Go Suz! Go!

Framed Objectives--This idea comes from The Fundamental Five by Sean Cain. Generating a clearly written lesson objective for ELA teachers is maddening, and understandably so. Our standards are layered and we have lots of them. Many ELA teachers even believe that our lessons are impossible to frame because we teach all of the TEKS all of the time. I STRONGLY disagree. I think if you are truly teaching everything all at once, then your sweet kiddos are maybe only catching a tenth of what you're throwing out there. When I think of struggling students, I know that nothing can be a secret to them. Our instruction has to be clear and explicit. They have to know what is supposed to happen during our block of time together! A well-framed lesson has two components:
  • The Objective Statement: We will [what will students be expected to learn?].
  • The Product Statement: I will [what will students be expected to do?].
For example, if students are writing an expository essay for the first time, you want to focus on something small. Your objective cannot be: We will write an essay. That's too big. It's too intimidating. It's too nebulous [oh yeah...I went there]. Instead, write a frame that sounds like this and make sure your lesson fits within the frame. 
  • We will generate specific examples to support an idea.
  • I will choose my favorite example and write a complex sentence about it. 
Notice what has happened. The first statement encapsulates what I want kids to learn. I want them to learn how to generate specific examples. My lesson must facilitate that process. I have to show them how to do that. 

Then, once they've done the activity and gone through the process, they can demonstrate their understanding by writing a complex sentence that connects it to their idea (the thesis). 

Will kids write a full essay on this day? No. Probably not. But will they learn brainstorming strategies. Absolutely. 

Framing is tricky and it takes practice. But I promise you...it can change the way you teach and it will definitely change the way you plan! Just ask Suz! Framing makes your lessons intentional and helps you use every single instructional minute with focus and purpose. 

Check back tomorrow for another rockin' routine!

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