Instructional Coach Weekly Update

Week of January 17-20

Strategy Spotlight

6 Techniques for Building Reading Skills - in any subject:

This was posted by Edutopia a couple of months ago and I think it is a good reminder to all of us on some things we already implement really well during our reading instruction, but it also brought up some techniques we could improve on.

According to the article, "Without a repertoire of reading strategies that can be applied to any text, students are being shortchanged in their education. In order to teach students to read effectively, teachers must be sure that they are not simply suppliers of information on a particular text but also instructors of techniques to build reading skills. Here are some ideas on how to incorporate reading skills lessons into a curriculum."

1. Teach Close Reading Skills: Guide students in annotation by directing them to do more than highlight or underline. Encourage students to have a conversation with the text by jotting notes on the text while reading—this keeps students engaged and often increases comprehension.

2. Appeal to the Senses: While reading is the work of the mind, incorporating the senses provides extra reinforcement for students who are still growing their skills. Reading passages aloud and verbalizing questions you would mentally ask while reading can be a great benefit to students. Students often have no idea how to ask questions, what type of questions to ask, or the frequency of questions, so modeling this skill is invaluable.

3. Guide Students in Setting Reading Goals: While writing goals are used regularly in the classroom, students do not assess personal reading skills on a regular basis. Begin the year by having students write a reader’s biography to gain insight into their reading habits, struggles, and successes; this serves as a foundation for discussions on setting reading goals. After reading a novel, nonfiction text, short story, or poetry unit, help students evaluate their reading skills: Did you feel confident reading the text? Why or why not? What parts of the text gave you trouble? Could you have used a different strategy to make reading the text easier? Students should evaluate goals on a regular basis and create new goals based on their needs and growth.

4. Vary Text Length: When approaching a particularly difficult text, break it up and offer it in shorter segments. Students often become discouraged with lengthy texts that require intense concentration. Giving smaller segments allows the students to digest chunks in pieces, acquire academic vocabulary, and build confidence.

5. Offer Opportunities for Choice Reading: Simply put, the best way to improve reading is to read, and students are more likely to read when they have a choice in the reading. Classroom libraries built from donations, garage sales, and thrift shops encourage students to take books for personal reading. Ask students about their interests and make recommendations.

6. Assess Content and Skill: Students should be able to demonstrate their skills in assessment, whether it’s formal or informal, formative or summative. Recall and comprehension questions are a good way to check for basic understanding, but teachers should then move to the harder how and why questions. Choose activities that require students to dig deep into a text, such as:

  • Facilitate a socratic discussion.
  • Create a playlist for a character.
  • Write a formal essay.
  • Make a meme for a character.
  • Present a mini-TED talk on research inspired by a text.
  • Create a mind map, literary 3x3, or infographic.

Winter FAST Testing This Week:


  • Please remember to contact me if you are having any issues, so I can document them and try to resolve them if possible.
  • Testing a few kids on the days you don't have a sub will help us troubleshoot any problems that may pop up and will reduced the test-load we have on days with subs.
  • You can only test when you have no other students in your classroom (before school, after school, at the start of specials, at the start of recesses, etc.)
  • Make sure you've recently restarted your computer and cleared your cache.

Success Criteria and Rubrics

If anyone would like any help writing their rubric please let me know! I've already had a couple of teachers reach out asking for feedback on one they started or just requesting some help getting started. If you are unsure of what you could write your proficiency scale on, here are some ideas:

  • Free response
  • IRA written response (or student packet work)
  • Summary writing
  • A focus area in whatever genre of writing you are working on (i.e. including details throughout writing, writing a good introduction or conclusion, using transition words, including strong feeling words, etc.)
  • Student participation during intervention
  • Anytime of day you do group work - you could write a proficiency scale on what the student is supposed to accomplish during their "seatwork" or "partner work" time
  • Partner or Group work in general or on a specific lesson for math, science, or social studies
  • Student participation during small group reading - the whole thing or part of it
  • The written work part of small group reading
  • A component of an Engage NY lesson

Again, please let me know if I can help you in anyway on this!

This Week


  • No School
  • 9:00 - meeting with Jon
  • 12:10 - writing unit in 3rd grade
  • classroom observations
  • 1:45 - visible learner lesson in 3rd grade
  • 2:30 - visible learner lesson in 3rd grade
  • 3:30 - 3rd Grade Team planning


  • 7:30 - data teams
  • 9:00-11:30 - Big picture meeting @ high school with all pinciplas, ICs, and some GWAEA staff
  • 12:00-3:00 - Meeting w/ Jess Quandahl and Jon


  • I will be gone in the morning for a doctor appointment
  • 12:10 - writing unit in 3rd grade
  • 1:15 - triad meeting w/ Jon and Jennifer B
  • 2:15 - weekly meeting with lead (Jennifer B)
  • 3:30 - 4th grade team planning


  • 7:30 Special education meeting
  • Learning meetings with 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade teams
  • 11:00-2:00 - meeting w/ Jon
  • 2:00-4:00 - IC meeting

Dude Be Nice Video

Another "Dude Be Nice" video for your entertainment
Slam dunk surprise makes this amazing guy feel like a king.