Paying Close Attention to Teaching With Intent (part 2)

Conversations among literacy teachers continues around the topic: Paying Close Attention to Teaching with Intent.  In the last post, we explored the meaning of intentional teaching and its purpose.  As a continuation, this post focuses on how teachers are learning more in order to answer the question “What are we being intentional about when teaching?”

Most recently, our literacy understandings have taken shape around conversations and understandings about how we are helping students build knowledge and strategic processing.  Teachers purposefully create teacher-child interactions that build knowledge and promote literacy competencies as students learn language, learn about language, and learn through language.

It is critical for teachers to pay close attention to what children already control in language, both orally and in texts, in order to support them as they read, write, speak, listen and view during the process of composing and comprehending a range of texts.  Additionally, close attention needs to be placed on text features, as well as the language used to learn about the world, people, places, events, situations, and relationships.

While the building of knowledge is extremely important for a child who is learning literacy, our job as teachers is also to create circumstances that will build strategic processing and develop students’ thinking within, beyond and about text.  Teachers intentionally teach students how to engage in the process of anticipating texts, processing texts, and reflecting on texts.  As we know, literate people draw on their knowledge of the world, texts and how texts work, a repertoire of reading strategies, and previous literacy experiences.  Teachers who pay close attention to teaching with intent provide ample opportunities to challenge, scaffold, and extend the student’s learning, always keeping learning easy within a contingent, supportive learning environment.

To further fine-tune our understandings, participating teachers’ challenge was twofold.  Literacy teachers were asked to consider, reflect, and discuss, on the run, the evidence from two live lessons in front of a one-way mirror that supports how the teacher helped the student to build knowledge and how the teacher helped support and teach for strategic processing. Discussions and reflections were supported by examples from the live lessons.  Teachers were able to see and/or hear the language that was being used, how language was supported in text, and how the child was learning through language about the world.  Teachers also engaged in a chain of conversations as they identified hard evidence that supported student learning on how to be strategic in text.

The power of having live lessons in front of a one-way mirror is paramount to transform teaching and learning.  For every professional development session, the big ideas behind every live lesson revolve around teachers fine-tuning their theory of literacy, searching and identifying supported evidence observed between teacher and child interactions, and discussing best literacy practices to lift student competencies.  These reflective practices continue to help teachers increase their understandings about being intentional when teaching.


How are you supporting students’ building of knowledge?

How are you supporting students’ building of strategic processing?

Frances Malavé
Literacy Department

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