Thursday, 13 July 2017

So many instructional models, so little time

When Im planning a new implementation, the question I get asked most frequently starts with How can BrightFish Reading fit into our…” From there, you can fill in your choice of blended learning, flipped instruction, rotational models, push-in, pull-out, response to intervention, expanded learning, and so on. Despite what we often hear about stagnation in schools, there is a lot of innovation going on and a willingness among educational leaders to try different approaches to find an instructional mix that matches the needs of their students and teachers.

With a plethora of pedagogy (sorry, I couldnt resist), its critical for instructional tools to fit into whatever, whenever. Few schools still ask for blocking schedules anymore the software just needs to fit into the many things that are already going on in the school day.

Take pull-out and push-in models. In a traditional pull-out, students go to a lab for a dedicated period of work for anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes. A reading interventionist or instructional coach facilitates the class, offering support and additional instructional on missed learning objectives, either individually or in small groups.

In the push-in model, co-teaching enables the interventionist collaborate with the lead instructor in the class environment. Class management is more challenging, but students dont lose any time transferring classes, and teachers can work together to make sure the instruction and intervention are well-integrated. Having common tools that co-teachers can use to monitor the progress of their students is critical to information sharing and effective instruction.

Flexible tools
Below is an example of how flexible instructional components can be used for pull-out or push-in instruction. (Despite saying I never provide schedule blocking anymore, here goes):

1. Whole or small group mini-lesson (10 minutes)
While BrightFish is designed to be self-paced and student-centered, the tools can be used as part of small group or whole group lessons. For example, teachers can model a reading comprehension strategy based on missed learning objectives in the students’ training reports. For younger students in a pull-out reading lab, teachers could model the program on an interactive whiteboard using a sample story to introduce each activity.
2.Self-paced student practice (30-45  minutes)
During reading practice, students work independently on their chosen stories and activities. The interventionist or instructional coach can walk around and observe, as well as check her dashboard for any notifications to provide one-on-one support to anyone struggling with an activity. BrightFish Reading is self-paced, so students can log into their workstations or laptops and pick up where they left off. It takes students 60 minutes on average to complete a story with all of the fluency, vocabulary and comprehension activities. Self-paced practice can happen anywhere, giving students more reading practice outside of the reading class.
3. Re-reading and reflection (5-10 minutes)
A short summary session can be used for read-aloud, where students can use the passages from their current story to read aloud to the group. Teachers can also use the reflection period to facilitate discussion on the learning objectives and activities.
Teacher collaborationIn the BrightFish system, teachers can “subscribe” to monitor different classes, to get notifications and review assessment and training data. Reports can be printed for teacher discussions and error data can be used to identify common areas of weakness for group instruction. Open response questions can be scored and comments can be added by both teachers to provide more feedback to students.
Pull-out and push-in models are just two examples of instructional approaches being used in schools. Learning can (and should) happen anywhere, and instructional tools have to be flexible and adaptable to different environments while promoting easy communication and collaboration among teachers.
Read how BrightFish teachers are using the program as part of their reading instruction.