Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dr. Mary Howard - Literacy Coach and RTI Guru

Our staff had the opportunity to hear Dr. Mary Howard at an in-service in August, before school started.  We previous read her book RTI from All Sides as a summer professional development opportunity. She has taught for forty years as a special education, Title I, and Reading Recovery teacher, as well as being a reading consultant and literacy coach.

We learned last week that she was heading back in our direction for a conference in Detroit.  She wanted to stop by our school on Monday, November 7 to observe lessons and take pictures to possibly include in her new book. My principal asked for volunteers to teach a high quality literacy lesson, not from the basal. I was quick to volunteer, not because I thought I had a high quality lesson, but because I welcomed the chance to meet with Mary.

I spent all day Sunday planning, pitching, and planning again.  I over thought what I wanted to do.  In the end, I ended  up teaching a great lesson on using post-it notes to teach schema.  I had an anchor chart that was not bad, and a great group of kids.  I was using Chris Van Allsburg's Just a Dream to introduce our new unit "My World and Yours." (Also my kick-off to my Van Allsburg author study.) The kids shared ideas on what they thought the unit was about.  I introduced the word "schema" that was also a challenge word for their spelling contract. Students were right on target with their connections. They jotted connections and used thinking stems to tie their schema to the story. Avery caught Dr. Howard's attention with her detailed jottings.
Except for the P.A. announcements during the lesson (to tell about another indoor recess) things went very well.  Dr. Howard came back 30 minutes later to discuss the lesson.  (Kudos to my kids for keeping things quiet during recess, while Dr. Howard shared her thoughts on the lesson.) She gave great feedback and offered an idea for an unused whiteboard, that I am putting into action.
Dr. Howard is an amazing woman! The amount of literacy knowledge she has is unbelievable. I am glad I volunteered!  I was also pleased that the first thing she noticed was my organized library.  See my previous post about it.


My Schema Anchor Chart

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