Ah, I am so excited to dust off the blog and get started with the new school year! There are so many exciting changes in our structures for RTI that I just cannot wait to get going! After some really honest conversations at the end of last year on how we were grouping and pulling students for interventions with minimal to no impact, we decided to completely change the way we do RTI, starting with the name. From this point on, we call it WIN, What I Need, time…because, you know, we needed another acronym!;) However, changing the name means nothing without blowing up the structure itself and that is exactly what Erin, the reading specialist, and I intend to do. We spent A LOT of time this summer brainstorming what the new WIN time could look like and imagining how we can use our time with teachers during Learning Labs to support this work. There are so many details and logistics that would make this post way too long, so let’s just start with the first month.
Typically, during the first month, students would be given content screeners used to group them into tiers. These screeners set a terrible tone for how students view the learning they will be doing during the school year (as Tracy blogged about here). The content on the screeners was across so many areas and there were no conversations about the math that, instructionally you got little to no information about what the students actually knew. Not to mention, for the students who had previously been in a tier, they knew this screener would put them right back where they were last year. So, this year, we are starting with getting to know our students in a way that can truly guide our planning and instruction and set a tone of how learning will happen this year!
Since our new WIN time will involve a lot of small group work, Erin and I designed a “First Month of School Plan” for everyone to help guide our future planning conversations. This plan could definitely be adapted by the teachers, but we wanted to give examples, or plan for those that wanted it, of ways to get to know your students and provide opportunities to develop a community of learners.
Without all of the details, it basically looks like this:
Week of September 6th: Talking Points.
Week of September 12th: Ask students what they need as learners. Do Norm-setting.
Week of September 19th: Read Last Stop on Market Street and do activities.
Week of September 26th: Read What Do You Do With A Problem? and do activities.
(If you want more info, the break down of all of this is in our first Learning Letter of the school year.)
For our very first Learning Lab this year, we have asked teachers to come with a formative assessment of what students know about their upcoming content work in October. Using this information we are going to work together to dig into the content and design small groups to help support students where they are. This design could be an extension of the content or address misunderstandings, all with a focus on what the students KNOW, not solely what they don’t.
I am sure it will be a bumpy ride for teachers, Erin and I, but when something needs to change, a bumpy ride is better than the same old crappy way of doing things. I will keep you posted and look forward to sharing our work!