Instructional Coach Weekly Update

Week of Jan. 11-15

Strategy Spotlight

I am a strong believer in setting high expectations for students and this weekend I stumbled upon this publication - Ten Strategies for Creating a Classroom Culture of High Expectations.

The forward explains: "To help students meet rigorous course standards in academic classrooms, each teacher must establish and maintain a learning environment that supports and motivates students to do their personal best. Classroom management is so much more than a set of appropriate rules and consequences. There is a skill set of strategies that teachers can use to create focused and productive classrooms that help students achieve higher levels of performance."

I'm not going to go into all ten strategies, but over the next couple of weeks I will post about some of the ones I felt have the most impact.

This week: Strategy #2 - Develop instructional plans that facilitate bell-to-bell teaching

Maximizing the limited time teachers have with students and communicating high expectations for on-task behavior are the dual goals of this strategy. Engaging students in meaningful activities from the first minute of class and continuing to engage them until one minute before class concludes are critical. Essential techniques for achieving full student engagement regardless of the length of the class period include:

  • greeting students at the door
  • posting sponge activities for students to begin immediately
  • having materials needed by students and teachers readily available
  • planning for smooth transitions between instructional activities
  • building into instructional activities opportunities for movement and active student engagement
  • checking regularly for student understanding and focus; and „ having an active summary activity in every learning segment.

Generally speaking, if teachers plan for four learning segments of about the same length during a class period, the pace of class time will be energetic and effective. The four learning segments are:

  • „presenting and linking the day’s objective to previous learning or homework
  • teacher-directed instruction to clarify or introduce new material
  • student-centered learning activities (with accountability) requiring active student engagement
  • summary-reflective dialogue to check for mastery and establish links with future learning or homework

Literacy Resources

Two resources that I have begun using quite a bit over the past couple of weeks are:


Newsela is an innovative way to build reading comprehension with nonfiction that's always relevant: daily news. Go to: and scroll down to where it says "Every article 5 levels" to see 6 different tabs you can click on to learn more about it. It's a nice resource to find high-interests, current, common-core aligned articles at your students level with quizzes that go with each one. Use the search box at the very top of the homepage to search a topic.


ReadWorks provides research-based units, lessons, and authentic, leveled non-fiction and literary passages directly to educators online, for free, to be shared broadly. The ReadWorks curriculum is aligned to the Common Core State Standards. According to their website, they are "faithful to the most effective research-proven instructional practices in reading comprehension," Most passages come with follow up activities, questions, and assessments.

If you haven't tried these sites out yet, you should! Both are free but require you to create an account to login. Let me know if you have any questions or problems accessing materials on these websites - I'd be happy to give a quick tutorial in person!

Last Week

- Was able to walk teachers through how to change interventions on the FAST system themselves

- Worked on four new IRAs for 5th grade that tie directly to science kits and social studies units

- Follow up discussions after data team meetings

- Gathered and created materials and resources for teams and teachers that requested things

- Met with Robyn Robbins to discuss all students that have been labeled as "students as concern" by their homeroom teachers and planned next steps

- Began lead teaching a new SGR unit with a teacher

- Completed some drop in observations

- Created 3 more "standards check list booklets" for several more teachers

The Week Ahead

- Continue with drop in observations

- Continue to work on new IRAs for 5th grade

- Continue lead teaching the SGR unit

- I will be at an all day Blended Learning training on Thursday

- I will be at an all day "Mid Year Summit" meeting with Ann, Jennifer and the other 3 ICs on Friday to analyze the progress we have made in the first half of the year, as well as goal set and plan for improving our service to our staff in the second half of the year

Reminders ... Universal Screen

A couple things to remember with the upcoming "Universal Screening" assessment happening in a week:

1. Make sure to find a quiet place to test - students who feel others can hear them reading or who may be distracted by people walking by or in and out of the room you are testing in are not going to do their best (my room will no longer be able to be used for testing due to the copier)

2. It is very important that every teacher read the scripted directions before all three passages. Some teachers mentioned after fall testing that they had students say things like my teacher last year told me to ... "speed read" or "read as fast as I can" or "just skip over all of the words I don't know"... It is imperative that we all stick to the script and give the assessment in the way it was intended

3. If a student is used to using a device that helps them keep their place when reading like a bookmark, reading guide, colored layover, etc. then make sure they use it when they are testing!

4. Make sure to let me know right away if you are having issues when you are testing