Expert Response

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Middle School: Writing a Poem

Imagine a coaching conversation

clip One approach for conducting a post-observation coaching conversation, adapted from the Santa Cruz New Teacher Center, starts with the coach asking the teacher who has been observed some version of the question, “What do you think was successful in that lesson?” After giving the teacher time and encouragement to think along those lines, the coach then turns to “What challenges or concerns do you have?”


Here is one possible conversation, when the coach calls the teacher’s attention to her use of time.

Coach: I noticed that, to start the rewriting process, you had a student sing “Ring around the Rosie” again while you wrote them on the overhead. What did you notice about the other students while that was happening?
Teacher: They were pretty antsy, but some of them were paying attention because one kid corrected me. It took longer to write it out than I thought.
Coach: mmmhmm.
Teacher: Thinking about it now, I could have had a student write the words while I went over the steps to what we were going to do. I felt like that wasn’t so clear.
Coach: You feel like you didn’t give the students clear steps about writing new words for the song?
Teacher: Well, they got the idea, but I wanted to get them to writing their own song sooner. That’s when it was really fun.  

clipCompare your observations to what some other coaches noticed in this segment.

What went well?

The teacher used content that the kids responded to well: "Ring around the Rosie" and the end of school.

The general atmosphere in the classroom was positive and there seemed to be a good rapport among the students.

Many kids in the video seemed engaged and building on one another’s ideas.

Teacher reminded students of past learning, "Think about another poetry term we learned."

She followed the lead of some students and affirmed their ideas, "Daniel is exactly right. We need to think about syllables."

Before the choral singing, she reminded them what that should be like.

When they go to choral singing, a student leads the count to begin.

What were some concerns?

While acknowledging that it was the end of the school year, having all the students talking at once when it was a whole class activity, seemed too chaotic.

Students who were the loudest got the attention.

Presenting a finished example first (a completed poem using the “Ring around the Rosie” tune) would have demonstrated the process and then made it possible for students to move on to writing their own poem sooner.

Giving students an opportunity to try their hand at writing in a think-pair-share format would have given more students a chance to process and try out their ideas before going to the whole group.

From what we see in the segment, we don’t know what makes a poem a lyrical poem. Restating the purpose of what they were doing, would have helped the students focus.

Having the words to “Ring Around the Rosie” already written would have made the whole group writing process go more quickly. The teacher could have talked about “remixing” which is currently popular.

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