Humanities Memo

The School Leaders' Edition: January 24th-30th


Refining the I Do for New vs. Repeated Lessons

This week in the teacher-facing Humanities Highlights, we emphasized the differences between what an "I Do" for a new lesson versus a repeated lesson should look like.

A new lesson is considered one with an objective that is being introduced for the first time in the year, or the first time in a considerable amount of time. A repeated lesson is one with an objective that has already been covered with students 2-3 times that week.

The biggest trend we are noticing on campuses is that teachers are using heavy teacher-talk to go over the what and how key points for an I Do in a repeated lesson. If an objective has been reviewed for 2-3 days, have teachers be more purposeful with their time and have them review the same what and how key points from the day before, oral drill style.

As coaches, here are several things that you can do to make sure teachers are putting this into practice:


  • When giving lesson planning feedback, make sure that your teachers have timestamped and tagged types of talk when delivering key points for a repeated lesson. Check out how Sarah (teacher at RSK) does this below!


  • Give your teachers feedback using this checklist when they are teaching a repeated lesson so that they know what to improve on
  • Norm on a "real-time coaching" cue prior to observing a teacher's lesson for when they rely too heavily on teacher talk for the I Do during a repeated lesson. Give this cue to teachers to let them know to call on students when they are executing their students.

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Guided Reading Framework for Different STEP Levels

As we double down on more Guided Reading observations and supports, we have seen several teachers go through only one of the three major Guided Reading components (Before, During, and After Reading), or have a "one size fits all" approach to what students should be doing during the "During Reading" portion.

Teacher actions should differ for the "During Reading" section based on STEP levels.

  • Pre Reading - STEP 6 students should be whisper reading while the teacher prompts for word-solving errors during the "During Reading" section. In order to do this, both students and teachers should be sitting together at the kidney table.

  • STEP 7+ students should have a clear "Before Reading" section with their teacher so that they know the day's objectives and key points. Then, they should read their designated texts at their seats during literacy work stations for the "During Reading" section. When they are finished, they should reconvene with their teacher for the "After Reading" portion.

One foundational way to ensure that teachers execute all three components of Guided Reading in a lesson and also meet the vision of what students should be doing during the "During Reading" portion is to give teachers planning templates that match this vision.

At RSK, all teachers plan with common templates and have their plans in a binder at their Guided Reading table. At RSCP, teachers are expected to write Guided Reading plans for various STEP levels and share them with the broader staff. RSCP coaches also give feedback directly onto these plans.

Below, are some template from these campuses!


Phonics 2.0 Checklist

Coming off the heels of our Phonics 2.0 PD, here is a checklist to use with your TK - G1 teachers when determining if all of the necessary planning and execution actions are in place for their phonics block. Independent practice is not included in this checklist, as this should be occurring during literacy work stations.

Use this checklist this week to gather baseline phonics data for each of your teachers and set the most strategic next steps for each of your TK - G1 teachers. Reach out to Sharon if you need support with gathering baseline data or setting the most high lift next steps.


Segmenting at Launch

Rodney and Megan put their takeaways from the Phonics 2.0 PD into practice by incorporating the quick phonemic awareness cadence found in the PD during launch this past week. Students were asked to segment words with 2, 3, and 4 sounds... and sounds that were extra tricky were repeated instantaneously!

Think Aloud Acronym at RMS

The RMS team spent the past few weeks focusing on aligned think alouds during the I Do. In order to help teachers plan and execute their think alouds to the highest level, they came up with the acronym BaSE:

Refer BAck to the how key points

Show how to do it

Explain your thinking

If you are interested in the entire PD or want to see how this has been incorporated into teachers' plans, reach out to the RMS team!

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Rigorous ELA Instruction During Indoor Launch

Indoor launch is a powerful time to reinforce your cultural and academic focus areas every single morning for both teachers and students. It is also an opportune time to teach key points that your students may struggle with most across their humanities blocks (ex. a particular STEP character code or STEP intermediate question) as well as engage in daily practices to foster a more word-rich culture throughout your campus.

Check out some great examples of how the school leadership team at RSK drives towards all of the above through their indoor launch PPT slides!

  • They read a short passage and have students discuss the main idea, modeling the what/how key points of finding the main idea

  • They challenge students to generate a word that is between a spectrum of two given words

    They highlight the characteristics of a focus genre of the month and also encourage students to be featured in their campus literacy publication


Writing Assessment Recap and Next Steps

Principals -- thank you to all for jumping on phone calls at the start of this semester to norm on our modified writing assessment guidelines. As a recap, we will be modifying the writing assessment windows and guidelines in this semester in order to gather the most actionable data possible and gear up for the SBAC. In G3-G5, especially, we have revised our writing assessments this year to directly mirror SBAC performance tasks and think that this raised level of rigor will better help teachers understand the writing demands associated with the assessment.

By the end of this week, please be sure to:

  • Determine when your campus and/or grade level teams will assess between now and the end of March. This will be the final assessment for the year. All campuses will need to administer the assessment one time during this window.

  • Select the genre of choice (either the fall or winter prompt) for your campus and/or grade level teams

  • Send an all-day calendar invite to Jan, Kate Laux, Jaclyn, and Sharon designating when your campus and/or grade level teams will assess, and the genre of choice

Anchor Charts

We have heard several teachers inquire about how to get pre-printed anchor charts. Please be sure to fill out this Anchor Chart Request Form to receive anchor charts for your campus.

Pre-Populated VoE/UPs

The following VoE/UPs were uploaded this past week:

  • G3 - Unit 8

  • G5 - Unit 7

Opt in PD: Non-Fiction Guided Reading

Tuesday, Feb. 2nd, 5pm

950 Owsley Avenue

San Jose, CA

Please encourage your G3 - G5 teachers to attend this opt-in PD on non-fiction Guided Reading!

RSVPs are enabled for this event.

Non-Fiction Guided Reading PD via Zoom for SLs

If you are interested in receiving the non-fiction Guided Reading PD, please feel free to come out to the opt-in PD. All school leaders and teachers are welcome. We'll also be sending along an opt-in Zoom invite just for school leaders following this PD.