Disarming Distraction


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Pam Pogson has a respectful discussion with Matthew, a sixth grader, about how easily distracted he is when reading. Together they come up with a strategy and a signal to help him stay focused so he can reach his goal of reading on grade level by the end of the year.

Listen and Watch

  • Notice Pam’s tone of voice, clear words, and belief in Matthew’s ability to stay focused. How might this influence Matthew as he hears and responds to her message?
  • Pam starts by reviewing what they discussed the last time they met. Notice the smooth transition into discussing Matthew’s ability to focus.


  • Pam and Matthew agree on a signal to help him refocus. Is it a signal you might use with a student? Would it work with all students? Why or why not?
  • What might you take away from this conference that you could try with a student whose goal is to read more?

Essential Elements

  • 8.1 Identify needs of student based on assessments and determine instructional setting.
  • 8.4 Record information in conferring notebook.
  • 8.6 Monitor progress.

Support—Barometer Behaviors

  • 10.1 Teacher engagement
    • Teacher builds positive relationships with students.
    • Student is taught to be self-aware, and to self-manage.
    • Teacher explains behavioral expectations; student practices.
    • Teacher individually confers with student, identifying and teaching self-management skills.

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