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Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jan 31 2012

Best Attempts, Best Practices

Best Practices for Communication Arts, round 1



18 January 2012

Richardson Professional Development Building – KCPS

- unedited notes and commentary as taken by Hannah Marie Farhan


It says Best Practices, and I’m rather ardently hoping for Best Attempts. Evidently I have a LOT to learn. For example, apparently Reciprocal Teaching is a staple piece of knowledge and I, as of yet, have no idea what that is. (It’s also the start of class 1, so I feel slightly less horrifically under-trained – possibly as a matter of maintaining opinion-of-self.)

We start off the class with the idea of a ‘literacy classroom‘. My interpretation of ‘literacy classroom’ – teaching reading comprehension. Consensus? Absolutely not. Laughable.
Where does the consensus lie? Teaching reading is one of the hardest things ever. Ever.

In summation : when it comes to High Stakes testing, informational text can, will and does out-import narrative texts.
My sentiments : poopie-faces.



Kansas City (MO-side) does less than stellar in the following two Missouri learning standards
1 – R2C
2 – R3C

R2C reads : Develop and apply skill and strategies to comprehend, anayze and evaluate fiction, poetry and drama from a variety of cultures and times.

R3C reads identically, excepting << non-fiction >> in lieu of << ficton, poetry and drama >>. I take issue with the following portion :

<< from a variety of cultures and times >>

What does that even mean?!
I welcome opinions/interpretations/clarification (thank goodness fascetious tongue-in-cheek commentary is not transmitted via the written word so bluntly as that echoed in my head…)

Hey, fourth grade, brace yourselves. Kid-friendly Tacitus to accomodate the ancient Roman time and culture parameter. You have 15 minutes. Go.


What do I know about Reciproal Teaching? What are my thoughts?
Absolutely nothing. Nič. Nihil. Nullité.

‘I had to start thinking about how Reiprocal Teaching looks at K-2.’ Yes. Pray tell, how DOES it look? Ever would be so helpful…
The answer is, evidently, read alouds. Awesome. (There isn’t sarcasm in there so much as despair…)

Hey, kiddos, watch me Predict, Question, Clarify and Summarise. Boo-ya. Oh, now you should def-o know how to do it. Have at it. Va-t-en.

Picture walks –> name WHAT you are to do (i.e. Predictions) and WHY you’re going to do this (i.e. to better understand how events happen in a story)
Thoughts: Fair dues.


Note to self - toutes les stratégies vont rester exactement la même chaque année. Les choses qui se changent seront les genres des textes et les niveaux des difficultés qui s’avancent naturellement avec chaque année scolaire.

La nécessité de la répétition avec cette type des choses. On a besoin toujours les fondations pour créer le bas pour les enfants – à ce moment, ils peuvent partir des stratégies pour interpreter et vraiment lire les textes suivantes (qui, nécéssairement, vont être plus difficiles). Dans la bataille entre l’aisance et le compréhension, c’était bien sur le compréhension qui sera le plus important – à long-terme – et aussi, bien entendu, lequel qui sera la plus difficile d’enseigner.

Note to self (translated post-writing) : All of the strategies used essentially remain the same each year. That which changes is the genre of the texts and the levels of difficulty that naturally evolve with each advancing academic year.
Necessity in repetition for such things. One must create the foundational base for the students – such that at this point, they might obtain strategies with with to interpret and truly read forthcoming texts (which, necessarily, will be more difficult). In the contest between fluency and comprehension, comprehension evidently becomes the more important – long-term – et also, naturally, that which is harder to teach.

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