Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Reader Asks... Lesson Framing in Self-Contained Classrooms

A LYS Assistant Superintendent asks the following:


The training that you provided this past summer was great and our staff has worked all semester implementing the Fundamental 5.  With that implementation, we some have questions.
What is the best way to manage “We will” and “I will” statements (Lesson Framing) for grade levels that are self-contained and have several content objectives?

I appreciate any guidance that you may be able to give us.

SC Response
Great question.  I would start with the reminder that the self-contained classroom is inherently unfair for both the teacher and the student.  The teacher is expected to be an expert in all four content areas, plan for all four content areas and deliver, daily, rigorous and engaging instruction in all four content areas.  Yet, Framing the Lesson is where the breakdown occurs?  The better solution is partner pairing, but we can save that concept/practice for a later discussion. 

Start with the understanding that a Lesson Frame frames the big idea or the critical understanding of the lesson.  Which means, especially in elementary classrooms, you don’t frame everything taught during the content time. You frame the most important thing.  So let's say during my Reading/ELA block that my direct teaching addresses reading comprehension, but I will also have a grammar review, centers, individual practice and some pullout groups. Most likely, I will Frame the direct teaching concept. From a practical and observation standpoint, this means that there will be less Lesson Frame / student activity alignment in an elementary classroom than in a secondary classroom. 

Now, the question becomes, "Which content areas should be framed?"  

The answer is (in the self-contained classroom), "The critical content areas.

Depending on the class and the grade the critical content may be just reading and math. Or the critical content could expand to include reading, writing, math, science and social studies.  But to not frame the critical content is not an option.  On this I cannot be more direct. To not Frame is to not prime the brain to be receptive to the learning and to not set up the brain to retain the content.  Which means to purposefully teach poorly. 

Now, if I have assigned my teachers the nearly impossible task of being self-contained, there are three things that I must do to help my teachers. 

1. I must provide them with a common scope and sequence.  I must give them "the What and the When” of instruction if they are to plan for quality delivery in four different content areas.

2. I must carve out time for my teachers to plan and collaborate together.  And I must make sure that they use the time appropriately and effectively.

3. I must visit classrooms to observe instruction and check the Lesson Frames.  If the Frames are not posted, cue the teacher to get them up.  If the Frames are of poor quality, help the teacher revise them. If the Frames are up and of good quality, give the teacher a “Thumbs up.”

I hope this gets you and your team past this little hiccup.  Let me know if you need any more assistance.

Think. Work. Achieve.
Your turn...

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