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Setting Instructional Purpose: What’s the Big Idea?

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While we get more practiced in developing questions as a routine part of planning instruction, we also want to think about the purpose behind your questions- it is important to drive the thinking behind the discussion towards your instructional purpose.  We want to make sure the questions we ask are going to contribute to the productive thinking of the group, and not lead them hopping from one idea to the next.  One way to align the questions with an instructional purpose is to frame the questions as part of an overarching investigation, or inquiry in which you and the students are engaging.  In this way we can help students synthesize ideas within a text.  Next we want to guide them in practice to synthesize ideas across texts.

Select one of the following videos, and use the developmental rubric for instruction to collect data on the model lesson. Look for evidence of academic rigor, student engagement, and instructional purpose.  Choose from:

Second grade teacher doing a close reading to model nonfiction feature in writing 


Fourth grade teacher moving from a close reading activity of a second text to a writing activity

As you set the instructional purpose and develop questions that align, consider how teachers use interactive read aloud to implement lessons aligned with Common Core State Standards (CCSS).  Use the CCSS linked to Reading, Speaking, and Listening, or use these snapshots of Reading Standard 1 and Standard 10 and Speaking, Listening K-12 as a guide to identify instructional standards and student learning.  In grade level bands, use inventory of practice to plan for next read aloud.  

Before the next session:  Schedule another peer observation to collect data on interactive read aloud.  Try to commit to being observed and observing a peer- Collect data using the question inventory observation template, or another modified protocol. 

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These tools were created as part of the Literacy Improvement in Rural Education through Collaboration (LIREC) project funded by the U.S. Department of Education