Yesterday was a coaching day, and I had an awful lot of fun hanging out with sixth grade students for the better part of the morning. I began the day in Danielle Cobb’s classroom, who has begun differentiating reading instruction and making use of formative assessment. Danielle knows that her kids struggle to identify main idea as they read, and yesterday’s demo lesson aimed to address that.
I’m sharing that lesson here for two reasons: I’d like the other teachers from Danielle’s building to have a place to access it, and I’d also like to get some warm and cool feedback from others about my use of formative assessment throughout. What are warm and cool feedback? They are components of Tuning Protocols. My first exposure to this process happened through Communities for Learning last summer, and this peer review process has become a powerful part of the work that students do in our young writers’ studio sessions. Mine can be found toward the bottom of this wikispace…feel free to use it if you’d like to.
Much of this lesson was adapted from this one, provided by the Ohio Department of Education. The pre-assessment, graphic organizer, and template that I used to record information about student performance are all provided there.
I began yesterday’s lesson by reading an informational paragraph aloud to students while they listened at their desks. I read this passage twice, and when I was finished, I asked each student to write down the main idea and the supporting details present in the paragraph. As they worked, I circled the room, recording which students were able to do this accurately and which ones were not. I also made some annotations. For instance, some students were able to translate the main idea into their own words, and I thought this was worth noting.
This first step provided me a baseline understanding of how well students already knew how to do this. At this point, only a handful of students were capable of doing this.
Next, I provided a think aloud, modeling for students how I was able to identify the main idea and the supporting details in the same passage that I had read aloud. I used a graphic organizer to demonstrate how the main idea of any passage is much like a table top and the table legs provide support, just like details in text.
Then, I read the passage aloud again, asking all students to put their thumb up when they heard the main idea and to use their five fingers to indicate when they heard supporting details. As they did this, I assessed the effectiveness of my think aloud. At this point, many more students were able to identify the main idea and the supporting details.
Lastly, I provided students a graphic organizer of their own, and I asked them to read the first section in their leveled readers. As they worked, they used the graphic organizer to demonstrate their ability to identify main idea and supporting details. Danielle knows that she can use these assessments to determine which students might be pulled into invitational groups for further support and which students can move on to explore the text in other ways.
Like I said, I’ve been eager to receive some feedback about my use of formative assessment in this lesson, and it occured to me that a blog might be a good place for this coach to get some coaching herself. So please be honest! It will help ME help others better, and I’d be very grateful for this. Thanks!