Literacy Coach Peggy Rohan brings us into her school’s first experience with SRSD
What was it like at the very beginning?
Because we’ve spent many years developing common units and assessments we wanted to begin with the narrative genre, which is how our curriculum is set up. However, we very quickly found that we needed to take your advice and start with the opinion genre. Kids have a plethora of opinions, so they didn’t have to think about that aspect of writing. The opinion genre allowed our students to put most of their energy into learning the new instruction.
What was the key to your teacher’s success?
Having the teachers working collaboratively- and putting the time into the fidelity of the instruction- were the two keys to our success. By coming together and sharing experiences and brainstorming ideas we were able to better implement. After all, this was a pilot program for us with lots of new information. It was important that we exchange ideas on adapting the new resources: rubrics, strategy charts, fidelity checklists, and the like. Working together helped tremendously but so did taking the time to do it as it was designed.
What was the key to your student’s success?
It was apparent to me and others, that self-regulation is at the heart of SRSD. We have found that once the students adopt self-regulation as their own- and recognize what they can do- there is no stopping them. Thus, we needed to make sure there was time to implement the self-regulation piece. In the lower grade we had the time to implement new instruction and it gave us great returns. That time was not available in the middle school. So, in our second round at the middle school, we are making the time to do more with self-regulation and self-talk so they can emulate the results that we had in the 5th grade.
What advice do you have for others who are new to SRSD?
There are tons of writing materials out there. But SRSD really works. The key is to build in the self-regulation piece right from the get go. Additionally, limit the number of tools that the children access. It can be overwhelming. Introduce one and master it before moving on. Have them own it. Yes, it will take time. But in the end, you will have a student who is more confident about his learning and more independent.
Was SRSD used for an intervention or general classroom?
Our original goal was to use SRSD as an intervention with select kids. But as we explored it, we saw that it will be more beneficial to take it to the universal level and then drill down with the intervention students. And we believe that it worked out better because our typically-achieving students were able to help the struggling children.
What differences do you see in your students now?
The students are more confident, the teachers see them writing more, writing better and adopting the tools as their own. I even had one student using his self-talk at home! Also, we see that teachers spending less time leading the children with their lessons. The students are becoming independent and using the resources as their own which allows us to dedicate our time to those who are still struggling.