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Tip of the Week - March 9, 2012


We had the opportunity to go to the girls state basketball tournament here in Washington last weekend. Our entire family piled onto the coliseum and cheered until hoarse for our two nieces who play together.

We've often spoken at conferences about the similarity between great athletes and great readers. We've shared with many of you that they believe the reason the girls dominate on the court is because they simply play more than their opponents, and while they play, the coach is instructing and coaching 'in the moment'.

This year's experience proved to be just as exciting, and while they worked and brought home their fourth straight championship, we pondered if we might learn something more about success that could be replicated in our classrooms. We know we have to provide more practice time, when students are engaged in the act of reading, but as we watched our girls play through the lens of a classroom teacher, five additional themes emerged that set them apart from the teams around them:

Common Goal Every single athlete had a singular purpose: to win. We want our students to have a burning passion to not only be proficient readers, but lifelong lovers of reading.

Teamwork Once the common goal was established, the team worked together to achieve it. In our classrooms, it's up to us to foster the same kind of supportive, collaborative climate where every reader achieves both individually and as part of the whole.

Respect for the leader and each other There was an unwavering level of respect for the coach and fellow teammates. It was fostered in the way the coach consistently spoke and acted. Players with various strengths respected and trusted one another, producing a deep bond of unity. Our modeling and expectations can create the same result in our rooms.

Positive support and encouragement Once respect is modeled, expected, and in place, positive support and encouragement are a natural outcome. Instead of fostering a competitive atmosphere against each other, efforts and growth are joyfully celebrated.

Consummate Coaching Their coach has committed to strategies that ensure victory. He has spent hours researching, implementing, reviewing and assessing the effectiveness of his work. If our students are to succeed, it is in large part due to how knowledgeable and prepared we are to meet them at their current skill level and move them forward toward their ultimate success.

Unlike state tournaments, where there can only be one winner . . . in our classrooms, we can all be winning coaches who produce championship readers. We can all bring that reading trophy home.

Congratulations girls and coach, and thanks for the lesson!

FAQ: As a Literacy Coach, how can I best support my teachers in Daily 5 and CAFE?

Angie Rosen, from New Jersey, wrote in with wonderful ideas on how to support her teachers in Daily 5 and CAFE. Check out her ideas here: Coaching Tips with The Daily Cafe

We have also created a new folder in our Discussion Board called Literacy Coaching devoted to all of you coaches and principals out there! You can find it under our Discussion Board link in the left hand menu. We have also posted Angie's article there for future reference.

Book Look: A Pig Parade Is a Terrible Idea by Michael Ian Black

A pig parade seems like a good idea . . . don't you think it would be fun? The author uses some pretty persuasive writing to explain why it is indeed a terrible idea.

Twitter Tidbit - Jog the Web by Laura Komos

Convincing others to give Twitter a try has been a growing conversation lately. For those of us who have already experienced the power of this resource, we may have a hard time understanding why others are reluctant to try it. We may also lack the additional resources needed to convince others to use Twitter for professional development.

Last summer, my friend Cathy Mere (@CathyMere) introduced me to the "Jog the Web" site where you can compile a group of related websites that you want to share with others. And she assured me that "jogging the web" counts as exercise!

Here is my very first Jog the Web, compiling some of my favorite "getting started on Twitter" resources. It includes blog posts, newspaper articles, YouTube videos, and more all around the topic of using Twitter for 24-7 professional development.

I'm hoping this will help you to convince others to join us in the Twitterverse! See you there!

Boggle Board (WEBSITE)

Here is a fun Word Work activity from a wonderful teacher in Southern California named Rebecca Rojas.

Word Families (WEBSITE)

This clever word work game was made with paint chips. We found the idea on Kari Jordan's blog called The Snail's Trail.

It's in the Bag! Organizing for Conferring (ARTICLE)

We are refreshing this article for more to read. Do you ever find yourself needing a sticky note or a different leveled book while conferencing with a student? This can waste precious moments. Trish decided to get organized.

2012 Workshops

We are looking forward to our Phoenix Workshops next week. We still have a few spots left if you want to join us in sunny Arizona.

New This Week For Members

Interested in becoming a member of The Daily CAFE™? Click here for more information.


Melanie Penner wrote to us with this wonderful idea for metacognitive reflection with her students. With her permission, we are sharing it with you! I just wanted to share a new idea that I am trying in my classroom. We call it our Daily 5 New Applications -- our DNA's. Our DNA's are little notebooks where...

Introducing Superhero 'E' (VIDEO)

You may already know this, but Kindergarten teachers are worth their weight in gold! In this conference, Trish is working with a student who is trying to read the word "Jake". When it becomes apparent that she doesn't know the role an 'e' can play at the end of the word, Trish brings out Superhero 'E'.

You know about Superhero 'E', don't you? He flies to the end of the word and makes the vowels flip their sound. Now that's a superpower.

Lit Lessons: Miss Nelson is Missing by James Marshall

This week, Allison shares a lit lesson for the beloved classic Miss Nelson is Missing by James Marshall.

Spanish Parent Pipeline (DOWNLOAD)

This parent resource will help our Spanish speaking families who want to support their child as they improve fluency by learning how to use punctuation to enhance their phrasing.

Modeling Relevant Connections (VIDEO)

In this updated, full screen video, making connections is a comprehension strategy effortlessly used by proficient readers. The trick to teaching this strategy, like many others, is to think aloud so children can hear what is going on inside our heads as we read text.

Until Next Week!

Gail and Joan
The 2 Sisters

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