Guess Who is Sitting in the Students’ Desks at Tulsa Trail School?

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You may wonder what teachers do when students are excused early from school?  Do they rush home? Do they prepare for the next day’s lesson?  No way - they come together to improve their teaching practices by learning from and with one another.   

On Monday, March 12th Tulsa Trail 2nd and 3rd grade teachers spent their in-service day with Hopatcong’s K-5 Literacy Coach, Yvonne Mortello.  Teachers brought their open minds, experience, current reading data, computers, and art supplies ready to create responsive materials to meet the needs of their individual students in reading.

Teachers Create Process Charts for Reading

The topic of study was “Responsive Teaching Using Process Charts.” Teachers used their current reading data to recognize their students’ strengths in order to figure out next steps in teaching what’s most appropriate for individual learners or groups of learners.  Then, teachers created various reading process charts targeting areas such as accuracy, comprehension, fluency and/or vocabulary.  These charts act as student tools for whole group, small group, or one-on-one instruction.  Once the reading strategy is introduced by the teacher using the 1, 2 & 3 process, the students can then use the process chart as a tool to work independently with any text being read.  Eventually, students will become independent in using the strategy and be ready to take on the next step in growing as an independent reader.

Although it’s every teacher’s goal to bring students to or beyond benchmarks in reading, many students need personal learning tools to assist them in moving forward. The tool/process chart acts as the very next step the student is ready to learn, the step is in the student’s zone of proximal development. Therefore, making the learning attainable and successful.

We too use tools in our everyday lives to help us to do many things we are not quite ready to do independently, but will be soon enough. For example, toddlers use sippy cups, walkers and training wheels, eventually moving on to using a cup, walking on their own, and riding a two wheeler.  In addition, adults use various supports when exercising (i.e. holding a bar to balance while doing lunges) until they are strong enough to take away the modification and do it on their own.  Tools are not just for students, tools help us until we can do “it” on our own.

As you probably guessed, it was the Tulsa Trail teachers who were seated in those students’ desks busy learning, growing, sharing and creating “tools” to support students in becoming independent successful thoughtful readers.  Needless to say, it was an extremely successful in-service day. 

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