I always enjoyed casual teaching. You experienced a range of classes, schools, students, and did not have to worry about reports or so many other responsibilities that a teacher on a temporary contract or in a permanent position has. However, as a casual you do have one significant responsibility, which is to ensure that you mark all tasks you have students complete (unless otherwise directed by any note the normal teacher may leave, and you need to leave some form of note for the regular teacher as to what you have done and how the day/s went, what issues, if any, there were.
On my very first casual day I did not do this and when I was back in that school on the very next day, the teacher for that class pulled me aside and had a quiet word with me about my responsibilities as a casual teacher. Although the phrase had a quiet word tends to carry negative connotations, this teacher did so with good intent, with professionalism and with experience. I came to work in this school regularly and developed a lot of respect for this teacher. Her experience was significant (she only retired last year), her manner was direct, but her intentions were always good.
I experimented with different ways of leaving the notes for the regular teacher, but eventually struck upon the format that I offer as today's Friday Freebie. This form served me well and allowed me to simply fill in the blanks to let the teacher know what had been done, as well as gave the classroom teacher a direct line of contact to me if they needed it for the future.
“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”
― Attributed to Groucho Marx
This week's Friday Freebie continues the literacy theme. Last week's Friday Freebie was a template for marking and tracking students' writing and using it as assessment for learning and assessment of learning. In this article, I am sharing with you a template for tracking your Guided Reading Groups. As with last week's template, this one can be used with students of any age, but will require modification to suit your needs. You can find the Guided Reading Group template by clicking here or the link below.
To use this form, you need to fill in each section with the relevant details. I include the level of the book being read in the section with the students names. In the text title section for my more advanced students, where we are not reading a whole book, I also include what page we read from and read to. The orientation to text section is where you would record the phrasing you use, words or phrases you need to remember to include because they are high-frequency or challenging. The key words/phrases section is where you might record the focus word/phrase that you are focusing on. The observation section is fairly straight forward.
The bottom section is where you might make the most modification depending on the age. The word work section is where I record the phoneme that I am focusing on from the book and what I will be doing with that phoneme. For example we might be working with the /tʃ/ phoneme (as at the start of chair or the end of catch) and I might record that we are focusing just on the (ch) variation and so would record some words there to use with the group of students I am working with. The questions after reading section allows you to plan ahead for what you will be asking to check for comprehension. This allows you to plan for your differentiation ahead of time as you can plan the questions based around the needs of the group of students. For example, with students who are struggling, you might ask more literal style questions, with an inferential question at the end. However, with more advanced students, there might be none or one literal question and the rest are inferential or connection questions.
The response to text activity allows you to tie your reading to your writing by asking students to write something based upon the the story and can be adjusted to suit the focus in the class at the time. This could be as simple as describing the images in the story, or to write a recount of what happened, to write about a time the student did something from the story. With more capable students, you could ask them to retell the story from a different characters perspective, or as a different text type.
The response to text could also be adjusted vis-a-vis what the mode of response takes. It could be to create an artwork or sculpture if that fits with a unit of learning you are completing with students, to engage with a science experiment if that is appropriate, to research something from the story, to transform the story into a dramatic play or to compose some music to fit the story. These options would be used with older students.
I do also include, in each section, an indication in the margin as to what day my notes correspond to, regardless of whether it is a different book each day, or the same book being read over a few days.
Please feel free to share with your network and to adapt to suit your needs.
“Success is finding satisfaction in giving a little more than you take.”
– Attributed to Christopher Reeve
Just a very brief article as I have a short break between classes. We currently have a pre-service teacher (PST) in our school, who is on her first professional experience placement. By all accounts she is quite capable. I have chatted with her a bit about my experiences and given her some advice based on my time as a PST, which she has been receptive too.
Today (I am writing this on Thursday 25th June 2015), is the last day of the term for me, so I took the opportunity last night to compile some resources and content from both my own initial teacher education (ITE) and that I have gathered since I transitioned from being a PST into the teaching profession, went up to her class this morning and gave her my USB to copy the content across to her own so that she could benefit from my mistakes, my learning and my experience to help prepare her for the remainder of her own ITE, her own professional experience units and then her initial entry into the profession.
The look of unbridled joy and excitement was all the thanks I needed. To know that someone was so thankful for a few resources that I have accrued over time and have no problem disseminating if they will benefit others is a great feeling in and of itself. Additionally, her cooperating teacher’s wife is in the same ITE cohort, and so he is also taking a copy of everything for her. Eventually I would like to set up a system whereby teachers can keep resources, digitally, and share them to other teachers, royalty free. The concept of the sites where teachers share with other teachers is great. I have a real problem with charging for access to those resources though, especially when people use the argument of “I should be paid for my time.”
I do agree teachers should be paid for their time, and they are. But trying to claim payment for time spent developing resources, that you would have developed anyway for your own use, is a great example of the sunk-cost fallacy. Others may disagree with me, and that is fine; I am happy to agree to disagree, but I personally will never charge access to resources that I have created for my own use. I get paid every fortnight, that is the payment for my time.
If you have ideas about how to effectively set up such a system, whether a purpose-built website, use of Google Drive etc, I am open to suggestions. If you would like to engage in a discussion regarding the above concepts, happy to do that as well.
Thank you for reading, and enjoy your mid-year break.