Coaching in the Middle

Improving Teaching Practices- October 2017

Are you ready to work?

Hurricane Harvey turned our city up-side-down, but it didn't turn our spirits! I have seen families, city officials, and school districts ban together to recover, restore, and restart. Our strength has been proven, not only in our communities but in our schools and classrooms. Your compassion and continued dedication to your students and their success will be pivotal in turning your school around. It will take a lot of work, so let's roll up our sleeves and get ready for some heavy lifting!


Dates to Remember:

Unit 1

- September 11, 2017 - October 16, 2017

+ RDG Focus: Narrative Text

+ WRT Focus: Personal Narrative

Unit 2

- October 17, 2017 - November 10, 2017

+ RDG Focus: Informational Text (Expository, Persuasive, Procedural)

+ WRT Focus: Personal Narratives and Persuasive Essays

Fall Writing Sample


Snapshot Assessment 1 Window

- October 30, 2017 - November 8, 2017

Unit 3

- November 13, 2017- December 19, 2017

+ RDG Focus: Fiction

+ WRT Focus: Expository Essays and Short Stories

Thanksgiving Break

- November 20, 2017-November 24, 2017

District Level Assessment Window

- November 27, 2017-December 6, 2017

Winter Break

December 25, 2017-January 5, 2018

Be sure to check Unit Dates on Pacing Calendar

to reflect the shift after Hurricane Harvey!


The brain that does the work, is the brain that does the learning. - David Sessex

Increasing Student Talk

Expecting students to talk more academically by participating in discourse and purposeful talk may seem like a daunting dialogue for an experienced teacher and overwhelming for a new teacher. While it may seem easier to lead the class through lecture, we must consider the amount of time we are allowing students to process and discuss.

In the PD book, Who's doing the Work?" by Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris, they walk you through how to say less so readers can do more. The authors introduce what they call "Next Generation Reading Instruction" which offer strategies on for increasing student talk and productivity in read alouds, shared reading, guided reading, and independent reading.

The Students

- should own their learning

- should monitor their thinking

- should be reflective

- Identify their own challenges

- mindset of willingness to solve their own issues

- and text drive the learning

The Teacher

- watches

- Listens

- Looks for patterns across the classroom

- pulls formative data from various learning contexts

- is responsive to data and student learning


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Book Talks

Book Talks are a great way to promote independent reading time in and outside of your classroom. As ELA teachers, it is imperative that we are the readers we want our students to be. I challenge you to read when your students read as well as in your free time! The best way to improve student talk is to have something to talk about... What are you reading?

Below are a few books on my reading list!

Follow #TheLitLadies on Facebook for awesome novels to read this year!


Middle School Work Stations

According to Houston ISD, workstations are designated areas in the classroom where students work alone or with a partner/group using instructional materials to explore, practice, and expand their learning. Workstations can provide an opportunity to assess students’ mastery of different components within the same objective and establish a routine of differentiation for students with various instructional levels, interests, or learning styles. When workstations are managed effectively, students are aware of behavioral expectations and academic responsibilities.

  • Determine the objective(s) that will be reinforced in each workstation and the outcomes and activities for each workstation.
  • Create differentiated activities and procedures for students to follow in each workstation.
  • Organize resources and materials that will be used in each workstation based on the grouping of students and the rotation schedule.
  • Prepare an assessment or determine an end product that will gauge students’ mastery of the concepts for each workstation.
  • Implement time and behavior management procedures and expectations.
  • Model procedures and expectations, and allow time for students to practice.

Content should be connected to prior and/or present content.

Transitions should be smooth and limit off-task behavior or a break in the learning environment.

Evidence of Learning should showcase understanding and analysis of text and learning objective/goal.


Reading Workshop

- Minilessons & Application (Whole Group)

- Book Talks (Whole Groups)

- Guided Reading (Small Groups)

- Independent Reading & Writing About Reading (Individual)

- Reading Conferences (one-to-one)

Writing Workshop

- Minilessons & Application (Whole Group)

- Independent Writing (Individual)

- Guided Writing (Small Groups/ Differentiated Instruction)

- Writing Conferences (One-To-One Instruction)

- Investigations/Research (Pairs/Individual)

Language and Word Study

- Interactive Read Aloud (Whole Group)

- Word/Vocabulary Study (Whole group & Work Stations)

- Poetry Workshop (Whole Group & Work Stations)


Strategies to Remember


Using the Consume, Critique, Produce model in classrooms allows teachers to use mentor texts in authentic, high-interest ways. Taking the time to immerse students in reading and studying quality writing enables teachers to engage their students with literacy. And, this fosters a classroom of capable writers.

Consume: Students need to consume lots of mentor texts in order to gain an idea of the characteristics of a genre.

Critique: Students need to critique the mentor texts to determine the criteria used in that genre.

Produce: Because students following this framework have immersed themselves in a genre and developed the criteria for what that genre requires, they can confidently and competently produce something that fits the expectations of that genre.


Must Have, Might Have, Won't Have

Must Have, Might Have, Won't Have allows students to understand the components of different genres. By pointing out common trends in writing, students can better comprehend story elements. Because genres overlap and can become confusing, when we approach a new genre, in order to discover its characteristics, teachers should use this strategy will assist in clarifying misconceptions and fill in gaps of unknown knowledge.

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Literacy In The Digital Age


Plickers lets you poll your class for free, without the need for student devices. Just give each student a card (a "paper clicker"), and use your iPhone/iPad to scan them to do instant checks-for-understanding, exit tickets, and impromptu polls. Best of all, your data is automatically saved, student-by-student. Visit to learn more!

Print free Plickers cards by clicking here.

Order Plickers Cards by clicking here!


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Common Lit

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