The thing about football – the important thing about football – is that it is not just about football.
“Let’s talk about my fantasy football team,” I said to my son, John, recently as he joined us for dinner. “What about my kicker? I picked up Chicago’s kicker when Adam Vinatieri and the Colts began to struggle.”
“You have two kickers?” John looked at me while shaking his head. His eyes seemed to be saying, “Just when I thought Mom was making progress in fantasy sports, she does this.”
John paused for some time and put a bratwurst on his plate. “You’re spending time thinking about all the wrong things. The difference between the points these players you are comparing are going to score is small at best. Meanwhile you’ve taken up space on your bench that should be used for running backs. Running backs are what matters in getting points for your team.”
He was right; I was spending time deciding between a pair of tier-two players whose point differences would be small. If I wanted my team to make progress and be successful, I needed to focus on what was most important.
This is never easy. I have the same challenge when looking over student assessment information or reflecting on notes from my small groups; it’s easy to become overwhelmed by tiny details that make only small differences. Instead I try to remind myself to look for patterns across multiple pieces of information. I have to push myself to really look at the big picture to determine the teaching points that will create the greatest shifts.
When supporting literacy learners it is easy to get caught up in little errors or in challenges that may be more a result of a text than patterns for the reader. When looking at student information there can be so many adjustments that need to be made that I can lose my focus. John is right. I have to attend to what is essential. I have to think about what matters most in helping my students make gains. Instead of worrying about little details, I have to remind myself to look for the power points that will provide the places where I can make the biggest difference. Sometimes that means letting some things go in the interest of helping students more strategically.
This week we look at tools for using recordings in classrooms to strengthen literacy learning. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Contributor, Choice Literacy
Cathy Mere is a literacy specialist in Hilliard (Ohio) City Schools. She is the author of More Than Guided Reading. A trained literacy coach and former Reading Recovery teacher, Cathy leads professional development workshops and presents at state and national conferences. She blogs at Refine and Reflect.
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Bitsy Parks has her first-grade students record their writing as part of a regular workshop and assessment routine, and then uses QR codes to share the recordings with families and the larger community:
Ruth Shagoury provides tips and strategies for analyzing language in the classroom using audio recorders:
Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan share a text set about accepting and respecting others:http://www.pinterest.com/tammyandclare/text-set-accepting-and-respecting-others/
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Gigi MicAllister gives step-by-step advice on how she set up voice-recorded response as an option in her fourth-grade classroom:
If you’re interested in launching student podcasts, Matt Renwick has resources and tips for getting started:
Gretchen Schroeder finds visual essays are a fun option for her high school students to present what they have learned just before Christmas break:
In an encore video, Beth Lawson helps a child visualize a mystery story he is writing as a roller coaster with ups and downs or twists and turns:
If you’ve had a busy fall and haven’t had enough time to enjoy the newsletter every week, you can catch up on past Big Fresh issues at the archives on the site. Recent themes have included courage, conferring, revision, and assessment:
Remember, we’re off for the next two weeks on our annual winter break.