Once both surveys and classroom observations have been conducted, the next step is to compare and analyze the data. As a collective team of administrators, coaches, and teachers, work to answer the following questions:
- Where is there agreement between the teachers and students about regular instructional practices? In what ways does this align with observational data from the Classroom Literacy Tool?
- Where does misalignment occur?
- What are we currently doing that is working and we should maintain?
- What areas do we need to focus on?
- How might we promote change to improve?
One step toward making that change can be to incorporate a literacy-based planning tool that equips teachers with building coherent learning experiences through a daily learning sequence that integrates purposeful literacy practices in support of clear learning objectives. The Literacy Triangle mentioned and illustrated above provides a visual snapshot of how literacy integration should take shape inside an instructional plan. As teachers plan, it’s beneficial to get in the habit of asking whether sufficient reading, writing, speaking, and listening opportunities are integrated into the work. This Daily Instructional Planning Template incorporates a simple checklist for literacy in order to do just that.
It should be noted that the general structure of this lesson planning template aligns with the most recent research in how the brain learns. David A. Sousa illustrates the degree of retention at various points of a learning episode (i.e., a class period) in his book “How the Brain Learns”. Within one 40 minute learning episode, for example, the degree of retention occurs during “Prime-time-1”, which comprises the first 20 minutes. During this time, new information or new skills should be taught because it is most likely to be remembered. This aligns with the “Access” and “Guide and Engage” phases of the provided Daily Instructional Planning Template.
The next segment of the learning episode is considered “Down-time”, which is the time in which practice or review of new information should take place. This correlates with the “Application” phase of the provided planning template. During this time, information is no longer new and practice will help the learner organize it for further processing. Finally, “Synthesize & Reflect” resembles Sousa’s period of “Closure” which is the “second most powerful learning position and an important opportunity for the learning to determine sense and meaning.” (Sousa, 2022)
The Daily Instructional Planning Tool mentioned above is just that – the daily planning tool. Teachers should begin with a much larger picture and set of goals in mind. A backward planning process is an intentional way of looking at what students need to know and be able to do by the end of a unit and how they will demonstrate their learning. Once these have been determined, the daily learning sequence framework can then support the larger picture. This Unit Backward Planning Template supports the research by Wiggins and McTighe (1998) that outlines three principal stages of the backward design process for unit planning: Identify the desired results, gather evidence of learning, and design the learning.
Using the instructional design data from the teacher and student surveys is a way to improve instructional practice with attention to purposeful and coherent literacy. If you’re looking for additional ways to support literacy practices in your school or district, CTL’s Adolescent Literacy Model offers a framework for addressing each element of literacy in every content area so that students experience a cohesive, balanced literacy learning experience in every content, every day.
Sousa, D. A. (2022). How the brain learns. Sage Publications.
Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (1998). Understanding by design. ASCD.