Monthly Archives: March 2009

Lessons Learned

777669af68dbccabc30c3b6bcaa818253On Friday, I presented a professional development session for some incredible Seattle public school teachers. During the course of my session, I modeled the “look, say, name, cover, writer, check” strategy that was originally introduced by Diane Snowball and Faye Bolton in their book, Spelling K-8: Planning and Teaching (Stenhouse, 1999).

In a nutshell, this strategy invites students to create a mental image of an unfamiliar word (or parts of it if it’s a long word) in their minds. This strategy uses the following steps, as reflected on page 214 of Spelling K-8:

  1. “Look at the word, perhaps noticing words within the word, looking at the parts of the word, or underlining known parts.
  2. Say the word.
  3. Name the letters of the word.
  4. Cover the word and picture it in your mind.
  5. Write the word from the picture in your mind.
  6. Check to see that you have all of the letters in the word, and in the correct order.”

Whenever I introduce a new strategy to teachers, I try to provide an authentic learning experience for them as adult writers. So when I modeled the “look, say, name, cover, write, check” strategy, I chose an adult-level word to learn (as opposed to words like “can” or “because”). I selected the word “pneumonia.”

While the teachers enjoyed learning this new strategy, I made a rather noticeable error: I failed to clearly articulate the purpose of the strategy. This became obvious when a teacher responded, “I don’t think children should be learning words like ‘pneumonia.'” While this strategy could be used to learn any unfamiliar word, I clarified that “look, say, name, cover, write, check” was an ideal way to teach high-frequency words, words that are frequently used in reading and writing.

As a literacy coach, I need to remember that teachers and students learn in similar ways. If they don’t understand the purpose of a strategy, they may miss the learning entirely.


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Coming to Seattle: Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond

20081205_linda2On April 9, my colleagues and I at the Center for Educational Leadership have the privilege of welcoming Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond to Seattle for a presentation in our District Leaders Seminar Series. As many of you know, Dr. Darling-Hammond is one of the leading voices in our country on school restructuring, teacher education and educational equity.

She recently served as the chief education advisor to President Obama’s election campaign, and she continues to have significant influence on national education policy. Given the deep interest in Dr. Darling-Hammond’s work, we are opening single-session registration for this presentation, which will be held in Kane Hall on the University of Washington campus. The cost for attending this event is $175, and includes dinner. To register, call 206-221-6881. Spaces are limited. Please join us for a great time of learning and networking!

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