Literacy Chats – The Beginning

We are at the beginning of a long journey discussing literacy instruction and everything that goes along with it.  With the transition to the Common Core State Standards and our continuing work toward improving our instruction, it was a great time to revisit our shared understanding of literacy instruction.

To frame our conversation we utilized a microlab protocol, slightly modified.  Our SU literacy coach brought this to our meeting and the feedback from staff was very positive.

The purpose of the Microlab protocol is to address a specific sequence of questions in a structured format
with small groups, using active listening skills. The Microlab is useful for team-building and democratizing
participation because it asks that participants equalize communication and withhold judgment. It affirms
people’s ideas and build community while addressing specific content issues.
1. Each person has equal time to talk.
2. The listener(s) should not interrupt, interpret, paraphrase, analyze, give advice or break in with a
personal story while the speaker is talking.
3. Confidentiality should be maintained, unless the group decides to debrief the content of the questions.
4. The speaker


Our starting question was:

“What are the most important things you do to ensure that your students become excellent readers? “

Vertical grade level teams spread out throughout the room.  Each group started with two minutes of silent think and write time, recording their own responses to the question.

After the silent think/write time each person in the vertical team had one minute to share the list created during the think/write time, without interruption from any team members.  NO CROSS TALK.

After everyone in the team shared, groups were asked to synthesize the ideas that were shared into one list of five to six concepts and ideas that encapsulated the grand ideas.

Finally we recorded ideas, one at time, as a whole group.  Our list (not complete yet) included:

  • Read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read…you get the idea.  Providing lot’s of opportunities to read throughout the day and across areas.  Encouraging reading as a lifelong skill
  • choice in reading (time and “just right reading opportunities”)
  • comprehension strategies(explicit instruction, modeling and practice)
  • classroom libraries (stocked, levels, nonfiction, high interest, genres, multi-modal formats)
  • fluency skill instruction and decoding
  • read aloud (intentional)
  • book discussions, conversations, modeling
  • resources (PD, community, text)
  • experiences connected to text, sharing and responding (audiences)
  • continuity- grade levels
  • vocabulary – abstract and figurative language

We’re going to revisit our list moving toward revision and agreement.  Then we are going to use our list to explore and investigate several different philosophies and structures of literacy instruction.

This will be a very powerful process and I’m looking forward to the journey.


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