• The Secondary English Classroom

    “Learning to read and write are complex processes, both individual and social, that take place over time with continued practice and informed guidance. Therefore, it is important that teachers, administrators, and a concerned public do not imagine that literacy can be taught in reduced or simple ways.”

    -  The Council of Writing Program Administrators


          Follow the PfISD Curriculum to plan and develop meaningful lessons.

          Foster learning environments that motivate students to learn according to their unique needs and interests.

          Embrace a reader’s/writer’s workshop model with a focus on a genre study as reading and writing are connected and should not be taught in isolation.

          Read and write daily to establish reading/writing workshop routines.

          Utilize the Reader’s/Writer’s Notebook on a regular basis to respond to texts, and as a source for drafting, revising, conferencing, editing, and recording of mini-lessons.

          Use model (mentor) texts for students to read, analyze, and emulate/revise. (Students should be shown strong examples to imitate and weaker ones to learn how to improve.)

           Value ideas first (revising) before correctness (editing) during the writing process.

           Utilize rubrics so grading expectations are clear in advance.  (Teacher generated rubrics are effective, but most effective are student-generated ones based on the analysis of model texts and student noticings.)

           Evidence of learning should be present in the classroom in the form of instructional tools such as anchor charts, criteria charts, student portfolios, reader-writer notes.

           Foster collaboration on a daily basis, as listening and speaking are integral to language acquisition.

           Teach reading and writing through a variety of explicit strategies.

           Teach revising, editing, vocabulary and research in context, meaning they are incorporated routinely as part of learning process and not as isolated, random events.

          Model the habits of mind necessary for reading and writing through “think-aloud” protocols.

           Follow the gradual release of responsibility method in order to make learning effective and student-centered; “I Do” (Focus/Mini Lesson), “We Do” (Guided Instruction),“Y’all Do” (Collaborative Learning), “You Do” (Independent Work).

           Give students choices in what they read and write when possible.

           Provide authentic opportunities for reading and writing such as real audiences.




    The Six Components of an Effective English Classroom:

    Engagement, Explicit Instruction, Reading,Writing, Assessment, and Feedback


    What teachers are saying/doing:

     Should See/Hear

    Shouldn’t See/Hear

    o    Aligning lessons with the curriculum

    o    Engaging students

    o    Practicing inquiry-based teaching

    o    Fostering collaboration

    o    Creating participation across and in between cultural and gender groups; creating flexible groups

    o    Using Reader’s/Writer’s Notebooks

    o    Displaying objectives that contain student expectations in a prominent place

    o    Exhibiting evidence of learning (i.e. anchor charts, criteria charts, word walls, students’ work)

    o    Implementing the workshop approach such as:

    ·         Mini-lessons

    ·         Writing time

    ·         Reading time

    ·         Modeling

    ·         Mentor texts/mentor sentences

    o    Creating text rich classrooms that include:

    ·         Writer’s notebooks

    ·         Multiple genres

    ·         Essential questions

    o    Checking for understanding

    o    Leading short, targeted mini-lessons focused on a few skills

    o    Focusing on one or two kinds of errors at a time

    o    Modeling reading and writing through think-alouds

    o    Providing direct and explicit instruction of reading and writing strategies

    o    Modeling their own use of strategies repeatedly over time

    o    Providing specific, constructive feedback

    o    Observing and conferring directly with students about their strategy learning, and keeping records of those observations and conferences

    o    Incorporating vocabulary instruction  into reading instruction

    o    Having students compare various ways of expressing an idea

    o    Noticing good strategies students are using

    o    Brainstorming a solution to a particular problem in a sample piece (whole group or individually)

    o    Involving students in goal setting, evaluation, and written reflection

    o    Explaining grading criteria to students (rubric, checklist)

    o    Providing opportunities for students to make text and writing connections to their lives

    o    Activating students’ prior knowledge to help them make connections to what they know and what they would like to learn

    o    Promoting conversation through purposeful and guided discussion

    o    Guiding discussions through open-ended questioning

    o    Designing projects that excite and engage students as opposed to engaging in short disconnected tasks

    o    Assessing student work based on common rubrics

    o    Differentiating instruction according to students’ needs.

    o    Extended periods of book work without interaction

    o    Lecturing the entire period

    o    Teacher doing all the reading (interactive and voluntary short read-alouds are acceptable)

    o    Non-interactive use of audio-recorded reading

    o    Generic checks for understanding that do not feature specificity to the assignment

    o    Teacher answering all of his/her own questions

    o    Any one group dominating discussion at the expense of others

    o    Small group of students repeatedly being called  upon

    o    Teacher sitting at desk/computer for any extended length of time

    o    Students off-task/not engaged









    What students are saying/doing



    o   Short, complex texts

    o   Extended texts of various complexity levels

    o   genre study

    o   Self-selected texts (such as SSR books)

    o   Each other’s writing

    o   Mentor texts in genres

    o   The teacher’s writing



    o   Recording thoughts and questions while they read

    o   Working through the writing process

    o   Writing both short and extended pieces

    o   Recording lessons and responses in their writer's’ notebooks

    o   Annotating texts

    o   Organizing and ordering their ideas

    o   Prewriting and drafting in their writer’s notebooks

    o   Responding to  others’ writing

    o   Reflecting on learning  

    o   Processing ideas and concepts

    o   Summarizing understanding



    o   …to peers sharing thoughts on learning

    o   …to the teacher modeling thinking for students

    o   …to others reading aloud

    o   …to questions from teacher and students

    o   …to peer presentations




    o   Exchanging ideas with teacher and partners during “I Do” to clarify learning

    o   Seeking guidance from teacher and partners during “we do” to process learning

    o   Sharing with one another during “y’all do” to deepen comprehension

    o   Questioning each other about reading and writing

    o   Talking about their thinking

    o   Sharing ideas

    o   Responding to questions

    o   Presenting to the class