Instructional Coach Weekly Update

Week of Nov. 16-20

Strategy Spotlight: Highlighting

Why highlight? Highlighting text is a Write Tools "responding to literature" strategy that can be used in many different academic settings. Highlighting text will improve student comprehension because it encourages them to focus carefully on the text while reading. Like annotating, highlighting is another way for students to think critically about what they are reading and mark the most important parts of a text to refer back to in the future.

Additional resources:

  • Green Binder (Informative/Explanatory) p. 311-314
  • - p. 311 Background on highlighting
  • - p. 312-313 Seven easy steps to follow when teaching highlighting
  • - p. 314 Student friendly "Highlighting Rules" worksheet
  • The 5 "Golden" Rules of Highlighting - Teacher Infographic
  • Five close reading strategies to support the Common Core - These may be a little high for 3rd and 4th grade but some could benefit all students and the more challenging ones would be great to introduce to 5th graders
  • A PowerPoint (the teacher has taped herself going over the PowerPoint so you can just click "play"!) - reviews how to highlight and annotate a text


  • Run copies for every student of the Journey's main selection for the week, or a section from a science or social studies textbook and have your students highlight/annotate as they read or as you read it together as a class.
  • Make students a "Highlighting cheat sheet" to run on the back of their annotation bookmark so they don't forget the important rules of highlighting.

Standards Covered:

  • See photos below (p. 244 in red Write Tools binder and p. 292 in green Write Tools binder) to see all of the standards covered by highlighting texts.
  • More than 35 ELA standards can be covered when students highlight texts!

This Week

  • Team planning meetings with 3rd, 4th, 5th, and special education
  • 3rd and 5th grade half day Literacy Meeting
  • Teach for the teachers that entered the drawing
  • Teach several annotating lessons
  • Cover for a couple of teachers who will be observing other teachers
  • Drop in observations as time allows

Last Week

  • Covered for two teachers who went in to observe each other teach intervention and small group reading
  • Helped a teacher during math instruction by working with a group of students who were struggling with subtraction (I was able to try some different strategies in a smaller setting at a slower pace)
  • Helped with teacher/para coverage during the State Volleyball game
  • Continued to do drop in observations - trying to get into every classroom to observe different parts of literacy instruction
  • Modeled several Annotation lessons for several different teachers
  • Found and made resources specific teams have requested

How can I use the IC? - Observing Others Part 1

  • This past week I had two teachers who were willing to try something outside of their comfort zone - let another teacher come in and observe them (TWICE!!) Both were unsure what to expect going into their observations of each other, but in our post observation both agreed that the observations were very beneficial and observed things in the other person's teaching that they wanted to apply in their own room!

Does this sound familiar?...

I have always taught with my classroom door closed. Officially, it’s because I have trouble with distractions, which is not a lie: Just ask my family how often I yell for quiet when I’m trying to figure out my next Quirkle move.

The unofficial reason is that I don’t really want other people watching me teach. Alone with my students, I’m a different person: I let my guard down in a way that I never do with co-workers, even people I’m comfortable with. My students get the most relaxed, funniest side of me, the side I’m not sure my colleagues would appreciate or approve of. It’s not that I do anything inappropriate – not really, anyway – but I am definitely more likely to say “booger” and “crap” when my door is closed. For that reason, I’d rather not have guests in my room.

Apparently I’m not alone. In my sixth year of teaching, our principal wanted us to learn strategies that were just being introduced by Marzano and company. Everyone got a copy of the book, we had meetings where the strategies were explored, and we collaborated on how to implement them into our lessons.

Oh, and he also wanted us to observe each other using the strategies in our teaching.

People FREAKED OUT. Not about having to read another book or try new strategies. It was the peer observation. Lost their ever-loving minds. “I don’t want someone else in my room looking for mistakes!” They said, all in a tizzy. “And I don’t want to be the observer either! Who am I to tell someone else what they’re doing wrong?”

Eventually, because it was mandated, they had to get over it. But their initial response showed a lack of understanding for how truly amazing peer observation can be. If we can get past the discomfort, opening our doors to other teachers can be a fantastic source of professional development.

This was posted by Jennifer Gonzales (former middle school teacher) on her blog, Cult of Pedagogy, in 2013. She goes on to give three reasons "Why we Need to See Each Other Teach." I will go in to more detail about those 3 reasons next week, but feel free to click on the above link if you can't wait until then :).