Have you ever noticed that life consists mostly of interruptions, with occasional spells of rush work in between? Buwei Yang Chao
I was sitting next to a student working on his reading homework during an after-school program. He was reading a book of his choice and everything seemed to be aligned to promote a love for reading. I was feeling all warm and fuzzy inside when suddenly, he slammed the book shut.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“That was the 50th page,” he said, opening the book to point to the page number. “I have to stop every 50 pages to fill out the reading log.”
I glanced at the page and said, “But it’s the middle of the sentence!”
He cut his eyes at me as he opened his reading binder. “Doesn’t matter,” he said. “Readers always stop and reflect on their reading after 50 pages.”
I smiled inwardly at his robot-like impersonation of a teacher. As he flipped through copious pages in his reading notebook, I realized it didn’t matter how I tried to rationalize the real reasons readers stop and reflect. He was conditioned to make his reading log look good, which meant stopping every 50 pages to complete answers to questions provided by the teacher. His reading response was as rote as his explanation about why he stopped.
Whenever reading and writing is interrupted, it’s important to ask why. That’s exactly what we’re doing in this week’s newsletter. I hope the insights of our contributors help you reflect on what interruptions during reading and writing workshops are essential, and which ones might be worth reconsidering. Enjoy!
Lead Contributor, Choice Literacy
Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan offer lesson suggestions for helping students self-monitor and deal with distractions during literacy workshops.
Ruth Shagoury facilitates a discussion among new teachers of strategies they’ve tried with students who are easily distracted and tend to interrupt the work of others. The format is a model for professional development that is focused on sharing detailed portraits of students and different ways of helping them.
Teachers and school leaders often feel distracted because they have taken on too much and don’t know what to focus on in the moment. Angela Watson explains why some of the norms in schools for rolling up your sleeves and doing more than you should are leading to burnout.
New members-only content is added each week to the Choice Literacy website. If you’re not yet a member, click here to explore membership options.
Dana Murphy explains why a system for minimizing interruptions is essential in her fifth-grade classroom, and how she keeps the process of creating and using it as simple as possible.
Ruth Ayres visits a first-grade classroom with virtually no interruptions of the teacher by students during workshop. The clever teacher has implemented video instructions students can refer to if they have questions instead of asking her for support.
In this week’s video, Max Brand uses the “big table” in his kindergarten classroom as a communal spot for writing. You can see how he interrupts students naturally to make quick suggestions, and allows some interruptions of his own writing as he works with his students.
In an encore video, Sean Moore demonstrates how he helps his second-grade students focus their independent reading with preparation and then with discussion after reading.
Lead Literacy now has a new home as the Leaders Lounge at Choice Literacy. We’ll be posting the new content updates here in the Leaders Lounge section of the Big Fresh newsletter.
An accomplished teacher is at her wits’ end because of constant interruptions. She seeks help from her principal, Jen Schwanke. They soon discover it’s a schoolwide issue that needs to be addressed.
Melanie Meehan is coaching a first-grade teacher struggling with student interruptions. She shares her top four strategies for focusing students during minilessons.
The birth mother of interruption is often procrastination. What may surprise you is that procrastination has very little to do with self-control.
Being honest might not get you many friends but it will always get you the right ones.
That’s all for this week!