MES K-2 Coach's Corner

Tidbits of helpful information April 2015

Kathy Bomba Does Homework!

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Strategy Groups


Strategy groups are effective for all writers. Whether they are working at, above, or below standards, gathering your students together to help them stretch their skills is important!

Page 68 in Writing Pathways K-5 describes an effective structure for small group writing instruction. Note that this is only about a 10 minute session. Keep it brief! You are not trying to hit every teachable moment.

1 - 2 minutes: Teacher briefly introduces reason for small group

Be as direct as possible in explaining why students have been gathered together. Using language such as, “I think your writing will get a lot stronger if you…” helps children understand what is expected of them.

If you refer to a mentor text, be sure it is familiar. Do not introduce a new text within this format.

5 - 6 minutes: Children work (together or individually) as teacher coaches students

As you coach students while writing, “Aim for your commentary to lift their level of work a notch but not for it to solve all the problems you can possibly find.” Stay focused on the reason you’ve gathered students together and be encouraging in helping students persist while working. “You aren’t trying to make writing perfect; you are trying to help the writers practice more skilled work on the one trajectory you’ve chose to address.”

1 minute: Teacher concludes group

Encourage students to do this work across multiple texts. They should return to their other writing to continue this strategy.


  • As you hold individual conferences, look for patterns across students. Create a strategy group for students with similar needs.

  • You can use the student checklists in our writing units as a quick reference to consider the skills students should master in a particular genre.

  • Review the grade level CCSS and the point based rubrics from our writing units to consider more deeply the skills students need to master and where you see pockets of children who need additional support to meet those expectations.

  • Consider the CCSS and the point based rubric for the next grade level, or beyond as needed, to look for ways to push small clusters of students who have mastered the grade level expectations for the genre.


The If...Then... Curriculum books from the writing kits contain three sections of possible conferring scenarios. These are divided by genre. Within each genre, there are suggestions for conferring related to structure and cohesion, elaboration, language, generating ideas, drafting, revision and editing.

Check out the Table of Contents in your If... Then... Curriculum guide to see brief headings for all of the conferring scenarios that are included.


As in guided reading, this is a time when the teacher is focused tightly on a small group of learners. During this small group time, the teacher can provide link ups to mini-lessons shared with the whole class and give an opportunity for the writers to engage with the mini-lesson concepts while the teacher is close by to guide and support.

Guided Reading and Writing Strategy Groups: Core Understandings

Small group instruction

Teacher leads

Focus on a specific teaching point

Match instruction to developmental level

Model, teach, link up to mini-lessons

Students individually interact with print

Students take responsibility to apply the learning

Guide reflection on the learning
Connect to personal use of the strategies

Teacher assesses

Excerpted from "Guided Writing" by Linda Hoyt.


And now...A little something from me to you!

Dilly Dip
1 pint sour cream 2 cups mayo 4 T. chopped fresh dill
1 T. grated green onion 1 T. Beaumonde spice
1 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh chives
Mix together and refrigerate

Homemade Boursin Cheese
2 T. butter, softened 1/2 tsp. pressed garlic
1/4 tsp. finely chopped fresh dill
1/8 tsp. thyme
2 T. finely chopped parsley
8 ounces cream cheese

Combine first 6 ingredients and mix well. Add cream cheese and mix until completely blended and smooth. fill in a crock or ramekin of some kind. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper.

Chick Pea and Feta Salad
4 large cans chick peas, rinsed and drained.
2 red onions, thinly sliced
1/2 - 3/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
1 cup of garlic vinagrette

Garlic Vinaigrette
1 cup red wine vinegar 4 T. whole grain mustard
1 garlic clove, pressed salt and pepper, heavy on pepper
Process and add 3 cups olive oil (do this in a food processor or blender)