If you can’t explain your ideas to your grandmother in terms that she understands, you don’t know your subject well enough.
My mom purchased an iPad a few months ago after much thought and analysis. She would categorize herself as a digital dinosaur, since she retired from teaching before email dominated professional communication. Her three digital-native grandchildren astound her with their ease with technology. My sixteen-year-old son has been coaching her on such topics as how to send and receive email, block spammers, and set up a profile. He is a great teacher, because he shares what she needs to know in a clear, straightforward manner.
There are times when I wish my son was leading the professional development sessions I attend. Here are three things I’ve seen presenters do that violate the Grandmother Clause:
Spending too much time with complex graphics or text
Using language or abbreviations not everyone knows
Answering questions with big, vague words instead of saying, “I don’t know,” “I don’t have experience with that,” or “Let me think more and get back to you on that.”
The next time you present a concept to participants (whether they are five or 55 years old), consider the Grandmother Clause. Do you know your topic well enough to explain the concept in simple terms, use language that is accessible for all, and answer questions with honesty and specificity? If not, what can you do to know your subject better and deeper so you eventually can?
This week we’re featuring resources for thinking about strategy instruction in new ways. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Senior Editor, Choice Literacy
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Here are three resources from the Choice Literacy archives to help you think about strategy instruction in new ways.
Shari Frost wonders if we have too much of a good thing in Towards Thoughtful Strategy Instruction:
If you’re looking for a quick primer on the basics of strategy instruction, we define the seven reading comprehension strategies here:
Great minds have been thinking about reading comprehension for hundreds of years. The Reading Comprehension: Yesterday and Today quote collection includes quotes from Walt Whitman to Nancie Atwell:
We’re featuring a new round-up series this month where contributors share their favorite new digital reading and writing tools for classroom use. If you’re swimming in new digital resources and finding it hard to keep your head above water, these vignettes of individual tools in use might provide some clarity and focus:
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Melissa Styger rethinks the way she teaches reading strategies, emphasizing putting them to use over defining them in They Can Sing and Define It, but Can They Use It?:
In this week’s video, Katie Baydo-Reed confers with an eighth grader who loves Rick Riordan books, showing a deft touch in exploring his comprehension and plans for future reading in a brief conference:
Maria Caplin continues her series on sparking vocabulary learning, this time highlighting fun activities in Cooking Up Interest in Words with Fifth Graders:
We’ve all experienced that moment in a parent conference. You finish your spiel which includes assessment data, charts, and an anecdote or two about the child. And when you’re done, the parent asks, “But how is my child doing?” Melissa Kolb explores the reasons why there can be a mismatch between our sense of useful information in parent conferences and a parent’s in Do You Have Any Questions? Conferring with Families:
Finally, if you are looking for more resources on strategy instruction, we’ve gathered dozens of them for you in the Reading Strategies section of the site:
That’s all for this week!