Teaching With Intention Book Study - Chapters 7 & 8

I'm back for my final installment of the Teaching with Intention by Debbie Miller book study! We will be discussing chapters 7 & 8 today.

To start at the beginning of this book study with me:
If you are interested in getting college credit from Concordia University for joining this book study, you can get all the details hereIt costs $127 and you can join in just by following along and sharing your thoughts in the comments. At the end of the book study, you will have to complete a written assignment summarizing what you learned and how you will apply it.

Don't forget to make your Book Study Journal!


Chapters 7 & 8

On page 99, I underlined and wrote "WOW!" next to this quote: 
"We don't attach grades to this kind of work [classroom activities, like the file folder sticky notes]; instead, we consider the implications for next steps.  The time for grading comes at the end of the teaching and learning process, not during it."
This reminds me of the Touch Points from the CAFE program by the Two Sisters.  When they meet and confer with students they assign a quick 1-4 rating for how well the student grasps the concept.  I like this type of informal, formative assessment, but I always thought that we should take these into consideration for grades.  We would look at student grades (or Touch Points) over the course of the grading period and see if the student improved or not.  If the Touch Points started out as 1's and 2's, but then gradually increased to 3's and 4's, the student would receive a Meets grade.  But if the Touch Points only showed a few 3's and the rest 2's, then the student would receive a Developing grade.  How does your grading work? Would you take these Touch Points into consideration for your grades or only summative assessments? 

 When I was first learning about the CAFE model for reading instruction, I tried to make a pensieve and flip through the pages in my binder to take notes for my students' learning.  I found the binder cumbersome and I was not good at using it.  Last year I made simple little sheets to keep track of what my guided reading groups were working on for planning purposes and also to keep notes on students, since I shared students with another teacher for reading, I wanted to be able to give her my notes for report cards.  I wanted it on one sheet so I wouldn't lose it.  In theory, I like Debbie's idea of notebooks for her students, but I feel that I would get overwhelmed with one more thing to keep track of and I'm afraid I wouldn't utilize them as much as I should.  I need to "Keep It Simple" (like Debbie says in chapter 8!).

Right now, I'm more about "getting through the book."  I hate to say that outloud and to share it with all of you! My school is implementing a new curriculum, Wonders, and we have to teach it with fidelity.  We have to do all the mini lessons and close read 2 stories a week whole group.  There is just so much to get done! I feel like I can't breathe sometimes.  And I feel like I can't take the time to use strategies that I know help engage students in learning and reading.  I know once I get a hang of the curriculum it will get better, but right now it's just plain hard.  Please help me feel like I'm not the only one here! 

I am keeping it simple by using the one page reading groups planning sheet each week.  I am keeping it simple by doing Daily 5 centers where I don't have to change much each week.  I am keeping it simple by teaching buddy reading routines that we can use with our literature anthology stories each week.  We don't do a reading workshop structure, because I have so much to teach whole group from the basal, but I do want to add a sharing time to our schedule.  Research shows that kids learn best by teaching a concept to someone else.  I think it will be worth it to make time for this important activity.  

I currently teach a whole group lesson from my mandatory basal, then meet with 2 guided reading groups a day.  In the afternoon, we have Read to Self time while I meet with my intervention group.  If I cut my intervention group shorter by just 5 minutes, I should have time to do a quick conference with at least 2 students a day.

The Two Sisters call a simple conference a "Dip and Tip"  They "dip" in next to a student to listen to them read.  They compliment them on something they are doing well and then give them a "tip" for how to improve.  This goes along with what Debbie does, too, but she takes it a step further by having the student articulate the new learning, both for themselves and for others while they share.  Bringing in the sharing aspect of the reader's workshop is something that I don't currently do, but I want to add it into our day.  

Now it's your turn! What did you think about this chapter? Just chime in on the comments!


  1. I am finally getting around to reading your post though, I finished the book this summer before CRAZY started! I am right with you on "just getting through". My intention with this book study was to get beyond this feeling. I have been teaching for almost 20 years yet something new is added to our plate every year. Instead of teaching like I should and want to, I am doing quick cram sessions with my students. I feel like I am shoveling things into them yet we have no time to practice the skills. The way our schedule turned out this year, we have about an hour less effective time to do the centers that I long to get back to. There are some great ideas in "Teaching with Intention". I hope to add more of it as the year goes along, but with 28 first graders (4 in special ed), I am just trying to keep my head above water.

  2. My goal is to really take the time to teach concepts and strategies deeply and well. I love a lot of the ideas that Debbie gave us to make learning meaningful, exciting, and purposeful for everyone involved!